to ever ever after,
forever could even start today.
-Ever Ever After, Carrie Underwood
It was Chouji and Ino's first anniversary, and Ino, being Ino, did not let the chance for a party slip.
On Chouji's insistence, it had been a small affair at the Akimichi residence, only the Rookie Nine and Team Gai invited. Still, it was a happy occasion, which was probably expected with people like Naruto and Lee involved.
The guests had come rushing in. Shikamaru had arrived first(but eventually left first, too, for a visit to Suna had been scheduled), followed by Team Gai and Team Kurenai. Fifteen minutes later, Team Kakashi(albeit without Kakashi) made their entrance. No one was surprised when Kakashi himself had come a good two hours later.
All was well in the world.
Sakura laughed merrily at one of Ino's anecdotes, along with Tenten and Hinata. Missions had brought the kunoichi together, and they were eventually inseparable.
Tenten smirked. "Well, that doesn't compare at all to what Neji—"
Tenten flushed at her fiance's intrusion. Ino and Sakura could not contain their laughter, while Hinata settled for giggles. She wasn't about to laugh at her cousin's expense.
"Nothing," Tenten assured, fighting off an onslaught of laughter.
"Aww, Neji-san, you ruined what could have been an amazing story!" Sakura cried jokingly.
Neji quirked an eyebrow.
"As much as I hate to disappoint you, Tenten and I are to meet with Hiashi-sama. Actually, I believe you, too, Hinata-sama, are to take part?"
Hinata blinked, as if thinking over it for a while.
"Oh!" she said. "I think Naruto-kun is also involved." She smiled apologetically. "I'm afraid I'll be taking my leave, too."
"Oh, it's alright!" Ino said, still as jovial as ever. "It's about time we wrapped up, anyway. Have fun, sweethearts."
"Don't worry," Tenten winked. "It's a story for another day. You'll enjoy it, I swear."
Sakura grinned. "I'm sure we will. Now run along, you guys. Let's not keep Hyuuga-sama waiting."
With a polite nod, Neji whisked Tenten away. Hinata gave a little wave and quick "Happy Anniversary!" before running off to drag Naruto away from Kiba and Lee.
Sakura sighed, tucking few stray strands of pink behind her ear.
"You know, Ino..." she began.
"I never thought," Sakura said. "That, even in a thousand years, we'd all have ended up like this. Like a fairytale."
Ino snorted. "You make it sound like a bad thing."
Sakura rolled her eyes at her childhood friend. "Of course it's a good thing, Pig. But with our professions and all..."
"Pssh," Ino scoffed. "Stop wondering, and enjoy it."
Sakura laughed for the umpteenth time that night. "Yeah, I guess I should."
"Hey, guess who's coming over, Forehead!" Ino wagged her eyebrows suggestively.
Before Sakura could reply, Sasuke's smooth baritone cut through.
Sakura turned around, smile already in place. "Yup?"
"I'll walk you home." The sentence, in itself, seemed more of an offer. Yet, with the way the man had said it, it came out as an outright demand. As expected of Uchiha Sasuke...
"Sasuke-kun, can't you see I'm—"
"Oh, come on, Forehead." Ino winked at the pair. "It's getting late." Sakura held back a snort.
"Akimichi Ino, it's nine o'--"
"Sakura." Sasuke's tone could have been imploring.
"I swear, the two of you..." Sakura mumbled, while getting off her chair. "Alright, alright...I'll see you around, Ino?"
"Happy Anniversary, pig."
Ino smug smirk softened into a sweet smile as she watched her friends' retreating backs.
That fan would look good on Forehead's back, I suppose...
The walk to Sakura's apartment was one of silence, except for the occasional bouts of idle chatter.
By now, Sakura was used to this.
With Naruto, she had full-out, animated conversation. With Kakashi, she had playful banter. With Sasuke, she had an intimate, somehow happy silence. It was Sasuke, and Sakura loved it for what it was. Him.
But, for some reason, there was something...odd. Sakura was sure it was emanating from her love-teammate-friend, and whatever it was, it had been creating thick tension between the two. This was not him, and she didn't like it at all.
Perhaps it was the moon? It was full and beautiful...just as it had been when he left, and according to some accounts, the night of the massacre. Swiftly, she turned to him, mouth hanging agape and ready to speak.
Just as her words were about to form, Sasuke halted. Intrigued, Sakura also came to a pause.
She realized they were in the park, which was, indeed, on the way to her apartment. But, for some reason or another, it was strangely…devoid of anyone but them. Idly, she also noted the cherry blossoms were in full bloom. A petal found its place on her shoulder.
"Sakura..." His usually monotonous voice was shaky.
With such great intensity, his eyes bore into her own. His usually proud, near-emotionless eyes were giving in to flickers of unease, anxiety, and...excitement?
For a moment, he seemed hesitant. Vulnerable. Yeah, vulnerability was adorable on him...Sakura would have laughed were it not for the seriousness of the situation.
Surprising the medic, Sasuke swiftly got down on one knee, his hands producing a velvet box from his pockets. In that velvet box, lay a beautiful golden ring, shaped into a cherry blossom at its peak. A diamond gleamed proudly in the blossom's center, surrounded by emeralds. Simple, but absolutely beautiful. Sakura could hardly contain her shock. Any proper train of thought soon deserted her.
"S-Sasuke-kun?" Her breathing became short and heavy. Her pupils were probably dilating from the astonishment, she found herself musing, despite her lack of coherent thought. The cherry blossoms continued their dance.
"Marry me, Sakura?"
Silence reigned for a while, unrelenting in its thirst for dominance. The concept slowly, painfully slowly, embedded itself into Sakura's mind. Finally, she grinned, overwhelmed by sheer joy. The Sasuke, the Uchiha Sasuke, proposed to her under the lovely full moon? Under the stars? With cherry blossoms gracefully dancing around? Never mind that they hadn't even started dating yet!
Sakura laughed heartily.
"Only if you, Uchiha Sasuke, love me, too." She grinned again as relief seemed to wash over him. A petal landed on his hair, creating a gorgeous contrast. "'Cos I'm really not settling for anything less than my fairytale ending."
Smirking, Sasuke stood up, and slipped the ring onto her awaiting finger.
As quickly as they could, they made for Sakura's apartment, unwilling to risk being seen by Konoha's denizens.
Sasuke soon acknowledged he had never tasted anything so sweet, while Sakura soon acknowledged that she had never felt anything more wonderful.
When their passions died down, they lay together on the couch. Sasuke had fallen asleep—ironically – and Sakura reflected.
They were shinobi and fairytales weren't meant for them—
Screw it. She stole one last glance at her beloved's(betrothed's!) sleeping face. A soft smile blossomed on her full, pink lips.
Whatever the reason, I'm going to enjoy every minute she decided before succumbing to the Sandman's coaxing.
Her dreams were filled with happiness.
"Uzumaki Naruto and Hyuuga Hinata, I now pronounce you husband and wife."
"So I'm guessing I can kiss the bride now?"
"By all means."
"This is so troublesome…but I love you, Temari. "
"Who cares about weight when I've got you, dear?"
"Really now, Ino?"
"I'll make my own destiny with you, Tenten."
"Neji, you're becoming a sap."
"Obito, look at my life now. Isn't it great? I mean, all my students...surpassing the Sannin!"
"Rokudaime-sama! Naruto-sama! THESE PAPERS WON'T SIGN THEMSELVES!"
"Uchiha Sasuke, you are hereby cleared of all charges."
"Dobe, I have been for quite a while. By the Godaime. We aren't even at a trial."
She turns to face her son. His emerald eyes are wide and shining with glee, and Sakura cannot help but grin back
"Remember that technique Tou-san said he'd teach me? Well, he finally taught me! And I got it on--"
"His first try."
Sakura looks up to see her husband, whose onyx eyes show nothing but pride. "He did well."
"You bet I did!"
Sakura laughs, happy and proud and bursting with love.
And there was no shattering, no breaking. No twisting; no weeping.
Just laughter and smiles. Just kisses and dancing.
Just fairytales about to come true.
…shards of what are to be, beautiful and wonderful and real.
They opened their eyes, and –
loved, laughed, cried, smiled, hugged, kissed, moved—
happily ever after.
Author's Note: OMG PAST TENSE AND SEMI-COHERENCE. GASPGASPGASP.