I believed you

With a faint blush coloring her cheeks, Sakura stood in front of her huge mirror. Her two best friends, Ino and Hinata, were seated on her bed and watched her amusedly. "Aren't you getting tired of staring at yourself in the mirror?", Ino mocked.

Sakura brushed carefully over the white satin of her wedding dress and replied cheerfully: "You're just jealous because I am the first one of us to get married."

"But the wedding starts in two hours. Do you really have to run around like that until then?"

Sakura nodded. "I can only wear this dress today, so at least I want to wear it the WHOLE day! I expect a little more support from my bridesmaids, okay? I want to hear it once again!"

The two girls sighed and then said in unison: "You are the most beautiful bride we have ever seen, Sakura."

She grinned broadly at them and attempted a sweet response, when she was interrrupted by a knock on her door. Surprised, she said: "Yes? Who is it?"

„It's me.", a deep voice said and the door opened. Her future husband entered the room with a serious look on his features.

"Neji!", she shrieked and reached for her coat to cover her dress. "You aren't supposed to see me before the wedding!"

He shook his head. "It's important, Sakura. I have to tell you something."

The serious expression on his face worried her. He wasn't going to call of the wedding, right? "What's wrong, Neji?"

He inhaled deeply and said: "He's back."

"What?!" she stuttered. The happy look had completely disappeared from her face.

He nodded. "Sasuke is back. They found him somewhere near the village yesterday evening."

Everyone in the room was suddenly quiet. This was not good. Sasuke had left the village about four years ago. Sakura swallowed hard. "He is back? I-is he alright?"

„Yes. He was rather worn out but he is okay."

Quickly she put on her coat and walked over to her fiancé. "Neji-kun.", she said softly. "I have to see him. Now. I will be back in time, please wait for me."

Pain shone clearly in his silver eyes, but he held back and nodded. "He's at the hospital."

She faked a smile. "Thanks, Neji-kun." She ran past him and left the room. Neji watched her leave.

"Why the hell did you do that?" Ino cried as soon as the door had closed. "Are you crazy? Telling her something like that before the wedding!"

„She has the right to know."

Ino shook her head in disbelief. "Do you want to lose her, Neji-san? She was in love with Sasuke-kun for such a long time… you were the first one who she got close to. If she meets him again…"

"…she might not come back.", Neji added. "I know."

„Then why did you...?"

„I don't want her to marry me just because he wasn't there. If she chooses him over me then I'll have to deal with it."

Ino just shook her head, but Hinata got up and hugged her Cousin reassuringly. "She will do the right thing, Neji-niisan. She'll come back, for sure."

***

Hesitantly, Sakura opened the door and threw a glance into the room. "Hello?"

„Come in.", a familiar voice said.

She entered the room and closed the door thoroughly. He was standing at the window, and when he turned around to face her, she was practically overwhelmed with feelings she had buried inside of her long ago. He had a few scars, also in his face, but he was still handsome. Sasuke was no longer a child, but a grown-up man. "Sasuke-kun.", she whispered. "You're alive." Without thinking she ran to him and hugged him tightly. And right then, when she touched him, she realized, that he was really there. That he was back, alive.

"Sakura." Much to her surprise, he pulled her closer to himself. "It's good to see you."

They let go of each other and she let her gaze wander over his handsome face. "How have you been, Sasuke-kun? What happened?"

She couldn't believe her eyes when a small smile played on his lips. "I finally did it. Itachi is dead. I fulfilled my dream and finally found peace."

"I am glad that you are finally able to be happy, Sasuke-kun. It's so good to see you smile."

Sasuke looked into her eyes and all of a sudden she felt uneasy. He placed a hand against her cheek and siad: "I came back because of you. Forgive me for being so cold. Now he have the chance for a new beginning, because-"

Sakura backed away from him. She would have never thought to hear that from him. He frowned. "What's wrong?"

Slowly she unbuttoned her coat and showed him her white dress. "Sasuke-kun. I'm going to get married today."

His mouth opened, but he couldn't say a word. He backed away and his face darkened. Now he looked just like back then, the look of betrayal and distrust had returned to his eyes. "You're getting married? Ah- You… I mean... Who?!"

„Hyuga Neji."

He seemed hurt. „Do you love him?"

Without hesitation she replied: „Yes."

He was at a loss of words. "S-Sakura… I have been thinking about you the whole time. I cannot let that happen..." Surprisingly he grabbed her shoulders and the very next moment he pressed his lips against hers. She felt a slight tingle in her stomach, just like back then when he had looked at her with those dark eyes. A part of her wanted to give in to this kiss. But then there was a picture in her head, silver eyes, that observed her with affection, Nejis demanding kisses and his tender touch, and she realized that her heart belonged to him. This was a dream from her youth, a dream she had given up on long ago. It hurt.

Sasuke let go of her and stared deeply into her eyes. "Sakura… please… are you sure, that you want to marry him? Would… wouldn't you rather be my wife? I- I love you."

„Sasuke.", she whispered and a tear rolled down her cheek. And then she replied: "No. I love him more than I love you."

He looked at her with so much pain in his eyes. "You told me you would love me forever, no matter what happened. I believed you. I survived, just to be able to return to you."

She wiped away the tear sadly and replied: "On that evening when you left, you told me that you would never return my feelings, no matter what I do. You said it was better for me to give up on you. And I believed you." She took his hand into hers. „I'm so happy that you are alive. But I cannot give up Neji. Goodbye." She let go of his hand and left the room quietly.

When she got out of the building, there was Neji standing at the door, waiting for her. He just stared at her and waited for her to break his heart. Instead she ran over to him, draped her arms around his neck and kissed him. "Neji.", she whispered and pressed herself against him. "I love you."

He exhaled in relief. "I'm glad you came back."

"Come on.", she said and grabbed his hand. "We better not be late for our own wedding." He followed her and she threw a last glance back. Up there behind the window stood Sasuke, watching her. With no regrets she turned away from him. He was part of her past. Neji was her future.

OWARI