Title: Blinded by Love
Characters, Orochimaru, Sarutobi
Genre: Gen
Rating: G
Spoilers: Yes, to the series. Contains character death.
A/N: Writtten for naruto100's "First and Last" challenge
Word count: 220

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The first time Sarutobi laid eyes on Orochimaru, he knew the boy was different. The keen intellect in the boy's eyes, his thirst for knowledge, and his natural talent for the ninja arts, made him stand out among his peers. He was a gift to the village, a genius like they had not seen in decades. With a teacher's dedication, Sarutobi taught him; with a father's heart, he loved him.

The boy with skin pale as winter-frost was destined to change the ninja world. Sarutobi knew, with the certainty that one could only gain from experience, and from the many years of watching the leaves of Konoha sprout, that talent such as Orochimaru's could only lead to greatness. Each word spoken by Orochimaru was a song to his ears, each right answer to a problem was golden light in Sarutobi's eyes. Happiness.

Blinded by love, he chose to forget that greatness often led to ambition, that ambition led to tragedy. Even when the evidence was clear, he ignored it.

The last time Sarutobi saw Orochimaru, it was through tears of disappointment and regret. He felt the sharp blade of his prodigy's betrayal pierce his heart, the tip of Kusanagi cutting through skin and muscle, and he finally remembered what his mind, by a trick of the heart, had willfully neglected.

- fin -