Epilogue


The weather has changed, and newly budding flower blossoms fill the air with their delicate aromas. Birds sing from their hidden spot in the branches, looking down at the blades of green grass, hoping to spot a meal wriggling within the flora. Winter has shed its icy cloak, and the people of Konoha rejoice in the warmer weather as they come together to celebrate their new alliance with the people of Kumoga. The war is done, and in the weeks that follow, there is feasting and music and dancing. The joy is contagious, and it spreads through the hearts of all the clansmen – warrior and civilian alike.

Sakura watches from the fieldhouse as Rekka, the fierce fire lord of all horses, and his white mare, Frost, prances through the lush rolling hills of green grass beyond the fortress of the Black Army barracks. She watches the sunlight gloss their coats and smiles to herself as they nudge each other's noses with affection.

Beyond the field, in a place that Sakura can't see, Naruto is training with Sai in the outdoor arena. Itachi and Sasuke are close by, taking turns sparring with one another as a new brotherhood begins to form. It is born of empathy and acceptance – a bond that began developing on the battlefield as they fought beside one another in unison. As brothers in arms, it is a bond that is deeper than family, forged in the fires of blood and loss – and alchemized of strength and unspoken oaths. The lines of the clans are blurring, and with it, a peaceful coalition has emerged.

From the darkness, light has been renewed.

The Black Army has become Sakura's home. Tsunade has appointed her the position of top Healer and given her a medallion of honor for her efforts in the war. She sits on the war council, next to Kakashi, and is given the esteemed title of Valkyrie. In the battles to come, the Raikage and the Hokage have determined that both Kumoga and Konoha will fight side by side as one.

Sai meets his birth parents for the first time and is welcomed into their home with tears and open arms. Sakura makes a habit of visiting the Haruno's on a regular basis, getting to know them and share her future with them both. Juro, though adamant to stay in Kumoga, promises to visit Sakura often. Sakura also promises to visit him twice as much. Konoha makes trades with him for herbs and soap supplies. Ino is particularly fascinated by the trade and decides to study under him, abandoning her station as a server in the Black Army. Sakura cannot help to notice the looks Ino and Sai exchange, and she wonders if perhaps there is something blossoming there.

The old bridges have been burned, and new ones, strengthened by the alliance, have been put in place. All is well in the world and the gods smile down on their children.

~oOo~

Kakashi appears without warning, sliding his hand across Sakura's stomach as he pulls her spine to his chest. She folds her arm over his, twisting slightly to grin up at him. They are standing in the back field, watching the horses run free in the fading light of the late afternoon sun. It has become one of their most cherished pastimes. No one follows them. Kakashi doesn't bother to keep his mask in place. It is as though the two are alone in the world.

"How are your ribs?" Kakashi asks, gently sweeping his thumb over her side.

"Tender still," Sakura admits. "But they're getting stronger."

At first, Kakashi does not reply. He holds her carefully, chin resting atop her head as he spots Frost among the prancing horses. It is in these quiet, simple times that he wonders if he is living a dream. He is not so accustomed to peace, and he is reluctant to trust the time he has been given, though the girl in his arms is a perpetual reminder that it is real. "Walk with me?" Kakashi says, brushing a lock of hair back from her forehead and attempting to tame it behind her ear. She has taken to letting her hair hang freely when they aren't training. She sports it now, as though she is proud to be marked by Chiron.

"Of course," she responds.

Kakashi takes her hand in his and leads her through the field, past the horses, and into the forest beyond. The golden sunlight filters through the branches, streaming down like a haze of glitter. They walk in companionable silence for some time until Kakashi leads her to a valley. There is a cottage nestled in a pine grove and a babbling creek cutting through the landscape. The windows are hazy from years of abandonment – the roof slightly slouched, weighted down by a blanket of russet pine needles. Sakura loves it instantly.

"What is this place?"

"This," Kakashi says, "was my father's home."

Sakura abruptly turns her attention to his face, the shock evident in her forest-green eyes. "You never told me," she says.

"Tsunade is the only one who knows it's still here," Kakashi tells her. "My father was permitted to live here when he was serving in the Black Army."

"He didn't have to stay in the barracks?"

Kakashi shook his head. "He left it to me after he passed. I couldn't bear to part with it, and yet I also couldn't bring myself to stay here… That was before."

"Before what?"

Kakashi bends to pick up a small twig, he snaps it in his fingers absently. "Before I met you… Before I thought of having a family."

Sakura is afraid to respond. She knows her mouth has fallen open ever so slightly as she gazes at the proud warrior before her.

"It needs a little work, but, it would be spacious enough for the two of us. And perhaps a child, one day, if that is something you want."

Sakura's breath hitches and tears prickle the corners of her eyes. She flings herself at him, ignoring the protests of her ribs as her arms circle his neck. She pulls his mouth to hers, kissing him sweetly and enjoying the warmth of his skin. "That is what I want," she breathes against his mouth. "A life with you is all that I truly want."

Kakashi stares into the depths of her eyes, sliding his palm across the back of her head and holds her tightly. She is all he wants, too. He kisses her forehead, bending to whisper in her ear and says, "As you are mine."


O
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I wish I had better words to leave you with. The audience I had with this story has by far been my most favorite. It has been a joy to interact with you and read through the comments and reviews you left me. It brought so many smiles to my face, and that is all any writer can hope for. Born of Winter Ash has been my most favorite to write and I love that I got to share it with you all.

I do have another KakaSaku fic called The Art of Catching Fire. It picks up where the cannon left off and does take place in the world of Ninja. It's lighthearted, fluffy, and overly romantic if any of you care to check it out.

I also have a few YA novels floating out there in the world. Though I would argue some of my fanfic is much better than my original work. But, if you're interested, you can check out my books on my website: BrittanyEliseAuthor (dot com). Especially if you're into witches and werewolves.

Thank you for letting me share my passion with you.

Happy Reading,
~Sparrow