Once Upon A Time

Prologue

"The Promise"

-x-

It's over now

What have you done?

- Within Temptation

-x-

"Ita-kun!"

A boy around 10 years old turned to see a young girl with bubble gum pink hair running towards him. A small smile played across his face as he dug his hands in his pockets, waiting for her to reach him. Her face was lit with a large smile, a dark red ribbon tied in her hair to keep her bangs back. She finally came to a halt in front of the older boy and leaned her hands on her knees panting.

"Yes Sakura?" Itachi asked.

Sakura looked up with a smirk on her face. Her green eyes squinted against the sunlight and it took her a few seconds before the boy in front of her came into focus. His long black hair was tied in a low pony. His eyes, which at first glance looked black but were actually dark blue, stared down at her blankly. Sakura finally stood up but had to crane her neck to see Itachi's face. She just reached his elbow.

"Itachi-kun, you promised me you'd help me with my flower arrangement today remember?" Sakura said.

Itachi frowned slightly. He forgot. He closed his eyes and mentally sighed. He was hoping he could train today. He had no time to pick flowers, especially with a 6 year old.

"Sakura, I'll be no help to you. I'm a boy, I know nothing of flowers." He said. "Why don't you get your blonde friend to help you?"

Sakura scrunched up her face. There he goes again, making up excuses. Well she wasn't going to let him get out of it.

"Ino can't… she's um, helping her parents at their shop." Sakura lied. "And besides, you promised! Didn't you say Uchiha's never back out on their word?"

Itachi couldn't help but smirk. Well, she did have a point there. But still, picking flowers? Uchiha's didn't pick flowers.

"Well…" Itachi begun.

Damn, and now she was pouting.

'There's no helping it I suppose.' Itachi thought with a sigh.

"Fine." Itachi said in defeat. "But only for a little while."

Sakura yelled with excitement and jumped up and down. Itachi couldn't help but smile as he watched the girl's display of happiness. She was just too darn cute for her own good. He remembered when they first met, she had been so shy. She could hardly even look at him without madly blushing. But as time went by she grew more comfortable around him, and more confident. Sakura then grabbed his hand and started leading him to a nearby field. She then got into talking about something that had happened to her earlier. Itachi just smiled pleasantly not really paying attention. He made sure to nod his head every once in a while to keep up an act of listening.

For some reason unknown to him, he had a weak spot for the girl. He didn't act this way towards anyone else. Hell, he didn't even act this way towards his own younger brother. But when she looked up at him with those pleading eyes he couldn't say no.

'Some ninja I am.' Itachi scoffed.

When they reached the flower filled field, Sakura let go of Itachi's hand to run around laughing loudly. She chased a couple of butterflies around before running back to Itachi.

'How can she be so care free?' he wondered as he stared down at her smiling face.

He thought back to when he was her age. He had never been able to act like a kid. As soon as he could walk his father started training him in the ways of the shinobi.

"Ok Itachi-kun! Let's get started!" Sakura exclaimed loudly.

"Hn." Itachi said boredly and followed after the young girl.

She ran around for a bit picking up a few flowers and checking with him to make sure they were the right ones. Of course Itachi didn't actually know if they were right or not, to him they were just flowers.

"Ah! These were the flowers Ino was telling me about. They're called cosmos. Aren't they pretty Itachi-kun?" Sakura asked and held the white flower out for him to see.

He gazed at the flower boredly but nodded his head. Sakura giggled before placing the flower in the pouch she wore around her thigh.

"One time Ino threw a bunch of them into this one girl's mouth and told her they were poisonous." Sakura said. "You should have seen her face. It was so funny."

"Why did she do that?" Itachi asked before sitting down.

"She teased me about my forehead." Sakura said bitterly.

Ah, Sakura's forehead. She got teased about it a lot. Though Itachi found himself admitting it was rather large for one so small. That was one of the reason's her self-esteem was so low.

"Well, it is rather big." Itachi said teasingly.

"Shut up meanie!" Sakura yelled with tears in her eyes.

Itachi flinched. He hated when she cried. It could be quite annoying. He sighed before motioning for her to come over to him. She hesitated before slowly walking over to the sitting boy. When she was about a foot away from him she stopped. Even though Itachi was sitting down, he was still about an inch taller than her. He brought his hand up and tapped her in the middle of the forehead, much like he did to his brother, only more gently.

"I was just playing Sakura." He said. "I happen to like your forehead."

Sakura sniffed. "Really?"

"Really." Itachi said. "It's one of the things that make you, you. Don't let anyone make you feel bad about it."

He then reached up to wipe away a single tear that fell as she smiled.

"Ita-kun?" Sakura asked.

"Hm?" Itachi said softly.

"Thank you." Sakura said before wrapping her small arms around his neck.

Itachi casually wrapped one arm around her back before letting go.

"Ita-kun, can I ask you something?" Sakura asked as she pulled back.

"What?"

"When we grow up… will you marry me?" Sakura asked with a blush.

"What?" Itachi asked shocked.

"Itachi-kun, you're the only person other than Ino who isn't mean to me." Sakura said growing more bold. "I… you're my best friend! And when we grow up… I…"

Itachi laughed as Sakura struggled to find words. Really, she was just too cute. Marry her huh? Well, there were worse things.

"Ok." Itachi agreed.

"Really!?" Sakura asked with a large smile.

Itachi nodded his head and held out his pinky. Sakura wrapped her tiny pinky around his. It was a promise. Itachi chuckled and ruffled her hair as he stood up. The sun was almost at the horizon, he didn't notice how much time they had spent here.

"Come on Sakura, it's time to go home." Itachi said and walked off.

"Coming Ita-kun!" Sakura said happily and ran after the older boy.

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---------Three Years Later---------------------

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Sakura ran through the streets of Konoha on her way to the Academy. She slowed down as she passed the Uchiha's section of the village and saw Sasuke run through the front gates. Even though he was Itachi's brother and in her class at the Academy, she never really talked to him before. All the other girls in her class were head over heels in love with him, and while Sakura admitted he was cute, she couldn't help but like Itachi better. Her eyes turned from Sasuke's retreating figure to look down the Uchiha's street. She hadn't seen Itachi in a couple of weeks.

She hadn't seen him much in the last few months actually. Ever since he joined ANBU, he was always away on missions. And when he wasn't he seemed distant. Sakura frowned as she continued down the street, she was beginning to worry about him. Just then she spotted a group of masked men walking down the street. When she spotted the man in the crow mask she smiled.

"Itachi-kun!" she shouted and waved.

Itachi stopped and looked over at her. The rest of the ANBU squad continued on. Sakura stopped in front of him and gazed into his masked face.

"I know you're probably tired from your mission, but I haven't seen you in a long time so I just wanted to say hi." She said.

Itachi lifted up his mask and stared down at her with a blank expression, but Sakura could see hesitation in his eyes. Something felt wrong.

"What's wrong Ita-kun?" Sakura asked worried.

Itachi didn't reply right away but instead stared down at her with hesitation and some other expression she couldn't name in his eyes.

"Nothing Sakura, just tired is all." He replied coolly.

"Are you sure? You've been acting really strange lately." Sakura said with a small frown.

Itachi suddenly bent down so he could look her in the eyes.

"Sakura, you know I care about you right?" he asked.

"Of course I do. And I care about you too." Sakura said slightly confused by his change in behavior.

He then pulled her into a hug. After a few seconds Sakura wrapped her arms around him.

"Itachi-kun, what's wrong?" she asked.

"I'm sorry." He whispered before letting her go and standing up.

"Sorry for what?" she asked confused.

Itachi turned around and began walking away.

"You're going to be late." He said over his shoulder.

Sakura stood in the middle of the semi-busy street and watched him walk away. She had no idea that that was the last time she would see him.

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Sakura woke up the next morning and went through her daily routine. She showered, got changed, had breakfast, packed her bag, said goodbye to her parents, and ran out the door. She followed the same route she did everyday, but when she reached the Uchiha compound she found she couldn't get through. There was a huge crowd taking up the entire street. There were worried whispers all around her but she was only able to catch snippets of conversation.

"… Dead… "

"… One survived…"

"… Happened last night… "

"… He killed them …"

"… Who? …"

"… Itachi Uchiha …"

Sakura gasped. No… it couldn't be true. She started pushing against the crowd, desperate to get through. It was a lie… maybe she heard wrong? She squeezed through people, closer and closer. She could see the gates with the Uchiha symbol. All around her she could hear people saying the same thing. All dead. He killed them. Itachi Uchiha. She was near the front now, she could see people in jounin outfits, even some in ANBU. She was just about to burst from the crowd when someone grabbed her shoulder.

"Whoa there, this isn't something kids should see."

But it was too late, she had already caught a glimpse of bodies under white sheets stained with blood.

"The young Sasuke Uchiha survived. He's in the hospital now they say, in shock. Poor thing, can you imagine? Your entire family being killed by your own brother. Of course he fled. They sent four squads of ANBU black OPS out to search for him, but he's probably long gone. And he seemed like such a nice boy too…." someone standing next to Sakura said.

Sakura didn't hear a reply because right after that she fainted.

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Sakura laid in her bed later that night with silent tears streaming down her face. The angry words of her father ran through her head.

"I can't believe it! We let Sakura be alone with that boy!"

'Why Itachi-kun? Why did you do it?' she asked. 'What happened to you?'

With that Sakura rolled over and fell asleep. She dreamt of butterflies and flowers, and of a boy who once upon a time, promised to marry her.

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Edited: Oct. 4, 2007