Hello. This is my new story. I hope you will enjoy it. It takes place when they are twenty years old. They have grown up and are jounins. Things have changed, which you will gradually learn when reading this. Anyway, please read it, for it will all fall into place. Please leave me a review. That will surely brighten my day and they are appreciated. Thank you! Here we go.

Chapter 1 Treasured Encounter

She was like a soft song, harmonic and soothing, as she stared at him with her emerald eyes. Her coils of pink hair glided down her flawless back, like wispy waves. She smiled pleasantly and stroked his cheek.

His wild hair was unusually flattened by the unstoppable snow that fell angelically, like unique feathers, each one radiating a clear diversity. Her emotions were like ribbons worn bright. He breathed heavily. His eyes were wide. The harsh cold he felt a moment ago, was gone.

He felt nothing, except her. She wrapped an exceedingly long blanket around him. It felt like snow, for he could feel the soft, yet sharp texture, but it was not cold. She leaned over him, her skin like the softest silk.

"It's okay, Naruto. It was just a dream." She whispered, tenderly. She brushed her lips against his strong neck. He could see strings of darkness bounding him, drowning him. However, her jade eyes, which he constantly got lost in, broke the darkness as if it were only frail pieces of glass. Gentle warmth filled the deepest part of him. His breathing eased and he embraced her tightly, absorbing her direct comfort, which calmed his uncontrollable shivering.

"It felt so real." He said, almost inaudible. He distantly caressed her strands of wispy hair as he realized how well he fit into her, like two unique puzzle pieces connecting naturally. He radiated a rare exhaustion which replaced his contagious happiness. The visible darkness was diminishing, and soon a mournful greyness covered him like a blanket. The sky and her face became clear. He suddenly felt the flakes of ice falling from the endless sky kiss his face. The strange blanket that he had felt around him vanished subsequently and her naked touch was gone.

Reality had gradually claimed him. The cold enveloped him abruptly.

'I'm awake.'

She had been waiting for him by the majestic gates and her worry grew. It gave birth to a strong uneasiness. The woolly scarf of vibrant orange kept her warm. The one he had given her.

"Hold on to this. I'll be back." He said, encouragingly.

The window to her emotions was evident in her glassy eyes. She looked at him and he could read her like an open book. She could not prevent her worry from flowing out of her. Her radiance of emotions was so pure and obvious.

It created a rare weakness in many eyes. In his eyes though, it was a strength which he admired greatly. He caringly wrapped the warm scarf around her exposed and frail neck. She could smell his fragrance of security. He smiled warmly, stroking her flawless cheek with appreciation. His blue gaze was locked with hers, reassurance flooding from them. It almost eased her untameable worry. She softly grasped his hand, her slender fingers entwining with his.

"I'm worried; this mission will be tough..." She whispered. She averted her soft gaze to the thinly blanketed ground.

The world was enveloped with a bright whiteness and the confused world regained its lost purity. He placed a finger under her chin and gently raised it so that she could meet his intense stare.

"Don't worry, Sakura. I'll be fine. With this scarf, I promise you that I'll come back." He said, a happiness resounding in his voice. It was so typical of him to speak big words, but it made her heart soar, for it confirmed her that Naruto was still his true self, despite the mission's severity. Loyalty and sincerity were his strongest qualities, so it was hard to convince him to take it easy.

She smiled weakly, feeling her heart lighten by his comforting words woven with truthfulness. It partially shattered the weight. He kissed her lovingly, their lips locking briefly, before he embraced her strongly, so strong, that it felt like she was a part of him. Two became one amongst the falling snow, which did not exceed his unique brightness.

"I'll be waiting. Don't overdo it. When you come back, I'll make you your favourite meal." She said, more happily, yet a faint sorrow beamed from her eyes.

"I can't wait." He stated, reflecting her forced smile. It was a rare and difficult situation for the both of them. He did not want to let her go. He tightened his grasp around her shoulders and his eyes gently opened, like crescent moons. They stood there for a few more moments, just holding each other.

Now, he had to force his heart to let her go. He released his warm embrace and looked at her profoundly.

"It's time to say it. Goodbye." He said, softly. He kissed her solidly on her forehead before turning around. Their hands were linked like chains, before they broke. She watched him walk away. Suddenly, he swiftly turned around, his face adorned with his characteristic smile; warm, bright and true. Her eyes widened, before softening. She smiled back. It was slightly forced, but a true one, nonetheless.

Suddenly, she could not stare at his back, but only at the empty distance that visibly separated them. She wanted to run after him, even though she knew that it was gainless. She could not move though.

His smile immobilized her. He disappeared behind the powerful gates. The sparkling snow diminished his precious form; only his golden hair broke the whiteness for a brief moment.

His smile stayed with her, etched in her heart that held so much. She unconsciously reached for the scarf and squeezed it softly.

It acted as a replacement, giving her the same warmth as he did. The scarf consisted of his touch, his warmth, his gentleness and protection. She exhaled a deep breath, before walking home, retracing her footsteps. There should have been an extra pair of delicate tracks beside her. She strengthened her grip around the orange scarf.

'Come back safely.'

He had been gone for three weeks. Tsunade had contacted her abruptly and told her that Naruto was arriving today. She had not mentioned any details concerning the mission, which confused Sakura. However, the thought of Naruto returning safely drowned everything else.

She ran out of her lonely home. She followed the winding path to the gates that were covered in a thick blanket of snow, purifying and enhancing the vibrant redness. Sakura stopped abruptly and decided to wait. And there, she would stand for as long as it took. She clenched the scarf around her warm neck.


After one hour, she was still waiting. She blocked out the cold that tried to surge through her body with the aid of her chakra. It flowed fleetingly within her, giving her warmth. It was not the warmth she yearned for though. She yearned for physical warmth that would gently swallow her whole; his comforting presence that only resided within him… Him…

Again, his smiling face rushed through her, like a powerful wave.


Suddenly, she saw a familiar silhouette break the suffocating greyness. He seemed to glow faintly in her wide eyes, burning everything else.

It burned inside of her, gently and reassuringly. She was relieved to see him. However, his aura was weak. He was radiating a mild frailty that worried her, stealing away her brief happiness. She began to softly run towards him, the worry growing stronger and stronger in her heart.

"Naruto..." She whispered, lightly. She was coming closer.

"Naruto...!" She shouted. She was almost there. A brief smile of relief appeared on her grateful face, before it was replaced with a piercing shock.

He fell. She could feel him fall.

She felt her heart stop for a moment. She caught him protectively, but she could not maintain the balance in her legs. Sakura fell to her knees, gently holding Naruto, tightly and securely. She slid her trembling hands under his head and shoulders. Sakura brought him close to her increasingly beating heart. She examined his condition thoroughly and calmly, despite the worry taking over her.

She unleashed a heavy sigh of relief. He was merely exhausted, causing his body to collapse. She tightened her grip, embracing him thankfully. She rested her forehead against his, absorbing his weak warmth that endlessly radiated from his persistent body. She decided to wait for him to wake up.

And he dreamed.

A sharp hand was outstretched, giving Naruto an incomprehensible offer. It pierced his soul and his heart. He stared elusively at the red orbs framed by coils of ebony hair. They were contrastingly bright, enhancing the seriousness woven in his voice.

"Come with me, Naruto. Let's beat him, once and for all." He whispered, his eyes glowing with a rare trust and sincerity. Determination radiated from his usually expressionless face. Naruto's eyes widened and he was intoxicated with a rare speechlessness.

He could only see him and the dancing ripples that expanded gracefully underneath his treading feet as he approached Naruto. His path seemed affixed. What was he thinking?

"Are you planning to leave, Sasuke? Again..." He questioned instead of answering his surprising offer. Sasuke retracted his hand that was sculpted by hatred, despite the newly obtained softness. He narrowed his eyes, forming a hard glare

He had been saved and remained in the village for six years. Their once cold relationship had blossomed. The memories were unforgettable. Even his frozen heart had been partially melted by the newly crafted friendship.

Why was he radiating harshness now, capable of freezing even the most ablaze flame?

Where was that faint softness in his eyes he had received through friendship's warmth?

Naruto could not think of anything else. . His orbs were like unbreakable stones.

"Sasuke?" He asked, uncertainty growing within him. Suddenly, Sasuke's eyes grew empty, hollowness seeping in like water.

"I'm leaving... Goodbye, Naruto." He whispered, harshly. Alarmed, Naruto extended his hand to stop him. When he touched him though, his body dissolved, turning into countless of raven feathers. They floated like black snowflakes. Suddenly, the dark feathers were in a process of alteration and appeared to be like suffocating hands, grasping Naruto. It was so cold. He tried to struggle, but it was futile and he was sucked into a nothingness that consisted of everlasting loneliness...

"Sasuke! Sakura!" He called, helplessly. Their vague images broke like glass. The shards scattered like rain.

As a young boy, he saw countless faces, etched with hatred, staring at him. Loneliness and confusion swallowed him. Naruto saw Kyuubi's shadow.

And then he saw Sakura lying lifeless on a bed of petals. Her coils of hair mixed naturally with the bright colour. It was as if she was falling, but she was not moving... Her emerald eyes were soulless, devoid of warmth.

He woke up.

Sakura stared into his wide eyes. They were sparkling like distant stars, yet the emptiness in them was so clear it caused an uneasiness to form in her body. She caressed his marked cheek with gentleness. The dream was still clinging on to him. Soon, his eyes gradually sucked in the reality around him.

"It's okay, Naruto. It was just a dream." She whispered, caringly. She faintly kissed his bare neck. He wordlessly embraced her, strongly. His heavy breathing was a deep language which she understood. It eased though and his fear sank. He was only afraid of loss and nightmares, which she knew so well. His shivering ceased as they lay there underneath the falling snow, the sky's frozen tears and petals.

"It felt so real." He said, softly. He was awake.

He was awake now.

"I'm taking you home." She said, strongly.

When they arrived at his empty home, both of them slipped into bed. Underneath the soft sheets, they held each other. Her strands of hair lightly touched his bare skin as she drew a line with kisses on his neck. He distantly stroked her face, firmly placing his lips on her forehead. Naruto gently strengthened his grip around her thin shoulders. Sakura looked up at him, her eyes softly glowing.

"Did you have a dream about Sasuke again?" She asked, cautiously. Naruto narrowed his eyes, remembering the intense vision; Feathers, suffocating hands and her lifeless body. He faintly kissed her forehead.

"Yeah, this time it was so vivid." Naruto admitted, sincerely. She looked at him, concern painted on her face.

"The worst part about it was that you were in it." He added, seriously. She widened her eyes slightly as she noticed the expression on Naruto's usually content face. It was replaced with a sheer worry.

"What happened?" She asked. He tried to answer, but his voice diminished. He averted his gaze hesitantly. She saw a rare emotion in his features. Sakura gently touched his cheek, allowing her to look directly into his bottomless eyes.

"Naruto, you know you can tell me." She said, softly and encouragingly. Naruto smiled weakly. His eyes were welling up with weak tears.

"You were gone." He forced, his voice thick. Sakura placed her other hand on his cheek, holding both of them now. Her eyes were more intense than usual, stronger than the ocean and brighter than any star.

"Naruto, I will never leave you alone." She whispered. She wanted to reach him. It seemed to work, for his eyes softened and he kissed her lovingly, stroking her wisps of wavy hair. Her hands slid down his cheeks, crawling down his neck and finally resting on his powerful shoulders. Their lips were solidly locked as their bodies became one. Words were no longer needed.

Later, Naruto fell asleep due to his heavy fatigue. He woke up once in the middle of the night though, and was welcomed by a thick darkness. However, he could see Sakura, who was like a faint star. He watched her breathe preciously. As he distantly fingered a loose strand of pink hair, he vowed to always protect her. He would not let her fade away.

'I promise.'

The snow had ceased to fall and the garish sun was aloft in the piercing blue sky. The peaceful snow, like a mirror, reflected the sunbeams, glistening like diamonds. Naruto was surprised to actually see snow in Hidden Leaf, which was a true rarity. He liked it though. Naruto, after having visited the Hokage's office and obediently delivered his report, made his way home.

As he walked casually through an empty street, he passed a girl. She did not seem familiar at the time; until he vaguely noticed the colour of her eyes…

He suddenly stopped, the wind awakening him. He swiftly turned around and saw a somewhat familiar face staring intently at him. Her coils of long ebony hair danced gracefully in the air. Her eyes like snowflakes penetrated him in a soothing way.

They just stared at each other for a few moments, digesting the encounter slowly. A thousand questions swirled through his mind. Everything seemed to proceed in slow motion. He envisioned memories from his childhood.

He saw a shy girl standing evasively in a corner. She would constantly stare admirably at him. When their eyes met, she would hastily avert her gaze. He never clearly understood why she did that. Despite her frailty and meekness, she was a strong girl. She yearned for acknowledgement, similar to him. Her eyes were usually soft, but gained a faint confidence when she fought for what she believed in. He respected her and even considered her a friend. One day though, at the age of seventeen, she left the village to train and fulfil missions. It was similar to a transfer.

Was she truly standing there? A gust of wind brought him back, and he fully realized who she was.

"Hinata…" He whispered, eyes wide. She brushed a wild strand of hair behind her ear.

"Naruto-kun…?" She questioned, stunned by his assertiveness. Naruto's face brightened considerably.

It was her.

It was her soft voice and those captivating eyes that ascertained him.

"Hinata, it is you." He said, cheerfully. He approached her and she stared at him, studying his tall height.

She no longer seemed to radiate a deep shyness, although she was still extremely meek. There was something different about her. Her eyes were harder, yet still so benevolent. Her hair was much longer, reaching the lowest part of her slender back. Her face was like porcelain, hard and gentle. Hinata did not say anything. She was still ensnared in the unexpected encounter. She was shocked. Naruto was merely overjoyed.

"I'm just as surprised as you are. How have you been?" He asked, excitedly. She continued to stare at him, questioningly.

"I-I can't believe it's you, Naruto-kun. It's been such a long time." Hinata said, sincerely. She could not stop staring at him.

"Yeah, where have you been?" He asked, more calmly. He consumed the sheer emotions she radiated.

"I have been in the bordering countries with my father. I accomplished missions given to me by the leaders there, so I could gain more experience and tolerance. My father trained me extensively as well. It's been three years." She told him, sincerely. He listened intently and realized that it had actually been so long since he had seen her.

"It's been that long, huh? But now you will stay here, right?" Naruto asked, regaining his happiness. She smiled warmly.

"Yes, Tsunade-sama wished for me to become a permanent ninja of Hidden Leaf. I too, yearned for my home." She answered, more brightly.

"That's great news!" He said, pleased. Hinata blushed faintly, the redness touching her skin warmly.

"H-How have you been?" She asked, apprehensively.

"I've had my ups and downs, but I'm fine now." He said, honestly. He smiled brightly, his eyes accentuating his joy.

"You still smile that way." She whispered. She looked away bashfully.

"Of course…! I can see many changes in you though." He said, warmly. She blushed even more.

"But you still blush!" He added, chuckling lowly. She automatically brought a hand to her lips, fingering them nervously.

"Relax, Hinata." He said, optimistically. They grew quiet again, absorbing each others presence. He was truly overwhelmed to see her back safely.

"Th-There were many times when I… I thought of you during my absence." She blurted out, slowly. It made Naruto's heart soar. Hinata could not believe she just said that.

"Thank you, Hinata. I missed you too." He said, eagerly. Her eyes widened by his complimenting statement. Her blush spread across her cheeks, growing stronger.

She had forgotten how strongly she felt for him. She used to frequently faint when she was close to him during her younger age. She was more controllable and mature now though. However, she could not stop her cheeks from reddening.

Her feelings came back to her like an unstoppable wave.

Naruto smiled, enjoying her gentle aura. He always did. He mentally giggled over the difference between her and Sakura.

"Neji and Kiba did too, actually. They were always whining about you. Have you met them yet, by the way?" He questioned.

"Yes, I was with them yesterday." She answered, smiling. Suddenly, her face grew surprised.

"Which reminds me, I have to meet Shino now. I'm already late." Hinata said, worriedly. She looked at him, expectantly, waiting for a reply.

"I see. Tell Shino I said hi." He uttered, understandingly. She shifted her gaze to the ground, not really wanting to say goodbye. However, she could not let Shino wait.

Naruto stared at her, noticing her reluctance and mild disappointment. He smiled.

"Hinata…" He said… She looked up. Her eyes were strong.

"It was really nice to see you again. Can we meet up later sometime?" He asked, lively.

"I would like that." She answered, delighted. Her smile was bright and grateful. He smiled affirmatively.

She bowed slightly, before running towards the centre of town. He was going the opposite direction, so he watched her run lightly.

"See you, Hinata." He shouted, energetically. Hinata stopped. She stood there for a moment, not sure what to do. Then she turned around and decided to wave earnestly. He smiled warmly and proceeded forward, satisfied with his abrupt, yet meaningful encounter. He could not wait to see Sakura and tell her.

A familiar feeling of faint loneliness swallowed his heart when he came home. It was empty.

Why did he feel that? He knew that Sakura would always come back. Brushing that thought aside, he slipped into bed and stared at the ceiling. It strengthened the hollow feeling in his stomach. He smiled though. It had been a good day. The only thing he needed now was Sakura. He felt inevitable slumber capture him. And he slept.

He heard a disturbing crash, which caused him to slowly wake up. He opened his azure eyes and scanned the room.

"Sakura?" He called, slipping out of bed and wandering to the front door. He found her there, standing stiffly..

"Sakura! He shouted, happily. He approached her enthusiastically, but he stopped when he realized that her aura was grave. Her emerald eyes were distant and evasive. Her eyebrows were furrowed as she finally looked up at him, seriously. He immediately understood that there was something troubling her.

"What is it?" He asked, softly.

"I have some bad news." She informed. Naruto narrowed his eyes, questions forming in his mind.

So, what do you think? Sasuke's reasons behind his second departure from the village are something which will be revealed later. If you did not get it, the first part of the story is from Naruto's point of view when he is waking up from the nightmare. This is going to be my second, very serious love story, so I really would like some comments. Thank you very much. If there are any questions, please ask.