The Konoha Love Story
All general disclaimers apply
"I'm in love with you,"
He ran with no clear game plan, but the sense of urgency that was surging through his bloodstream was hard to ignore. Naruto didn't even know what he was going to say when he got there; all he knew was that he needed to be where she was. The sweat that was now running down his back was not from fatigue, but from anticipation. His heart was beating until he could hear and feel nothing else but the dull throbbing in his chest.
The dim light emitted from the Uchiha household became a beacon for him to follow in the dark night, but as he neared her house, he suddenly felt weak. Naruto approached the porch briskly and knocked ferociously on the wooden door. He had always admired the workmanship of the mahogany door, the intricate swirls of the dark wood, but tonight, it was like an antagonist, blocking him from the one thing he desired most.
Light footsteps approached, and for a moment, he could feel her beside him. The smell of her shampoo fought its way through and it reached him, beckoning him to stand closer. It felt like an eternity and he fought back the temptation to break open the door. But a flash of light blinded him, and a beautiful pink haired woman stood before him.
Her eyes widened in surprise and simultaneously something in his chest dropped.
She was not waiting for him.
He brushed off the aching feeling of his realization, because he had decided long ago. It didn't matter if she was waiting for him or not, because he will always come to her.
And it was about time Sakura knew that too.
It had been two days since Naruto broke into her house and Sakura had been trying to pile herself with endless amount of work to keep her mind off of her shitty love life. She wandered aimlessly through the hospital grounds. All her work for the day was gone and she no longer had a purpose, she scoffed when she realized how pathetic her life had gotten. There were still from nurses prancing about as the night shift began, but all the patients were already sleeping so there wasn't much excitement. As her feet carried on with no destination, she closed her eyes and indulged in the silence.
When she finally looked up, Sakura noticed she was no longer in the lobby. She smiled an ironic smile when she realized where she had inadvertently walked to. She hadn't walked in this corridor for five months and it was strange that its path had been ingrained in her mind. Sakura's hand clasped on the metal knob and twisted. She entered the vacant room and turned on the light.
"I was wondering when you would come,"
As the rays of light filled the room, she realized that it wasn't as empty as she had originally thought. The clean hospital bed was occupied by a dark, handsome man. His long brown hair hung loosely and his piercing silver eyes penetrated hers. It had been so long since she had seen him in this room. The situation was different now; he was no longer bedridden and helpless, and their relationship had been one of forceful civility.
She almost laughed when she noticed that his fingers were clasped around the television remote.
"Your soap opera is on," he said simply as the TV turned on. The familiar theme song filled the room just like it had five months ago. Small breezes of nostalgia blew softly across, filling their lungs with a desire to stay in this room of the past. In this room, they were not a subject to time.
She laughed and walked toward him and joined him on the bed. They stayed that way in silence, quietly remembering when everything was simple, before fate reared its ugly head. She smiled contentedly and snuggled in closer, draping an arm over his body.
"I didn't know you actually knew the channel for this show," Sakura mused out loud, "I haven't watched this ever since you left my care long ago,"
"Misao and her boyfriend got married, but she died during childbirth and he is now dating a new woman," Neji answered dryly.
Sakura turned to look at him incredulously; it was amusing to hear the feared Anbu captain reciting the plot of a soap opera. She buried her head in his chest and giggled. When she finally stopped, Sakura's eyes searched his and their gaze locked. The nostalgia was no longer pleasant.
"I'm sorry," she whispered.
He turned to face her, his breath tickling her face as he spoke. He scanned over her beautiful face, the pink bangs blew softly, "Me too,"
She laughed mirthlessly, her arms tugged him tighter. Slowly, she sat up, a finger trailed along his strong jaw line. Then her face was within inches of his, Sakura brought her lips down for a soft, chaste kiss.
"Neji, make love to me,"
The soap opera was forgotten as they have already begun to take each other's clothes off. Unlike the last time, there was no urgency, no animalistic lust, just the need to be near the person they loved. If this were the last the last time they could be together like this, then they will make it worthwhile.
If they were going to be each other's memory, then it will be something that cannot be forgotten easily.
They will be together, in that room of the past.
"You were with him, weren't you?" he asked, knowing full well the answer.
She nodded silently.
"I'm glad you got the closure," Naruto continued and approached her, offering her his hand.
Sakura smiled and took it, intertwining his fingers with her own. The simple act of affection gave her the feeling of being safe, of being shielded from the world. Naruto opened his arms and drew her in; he reveled in the smell of her being, the soft skin pressing against his own. After years of waiting, she finally saw him as a man.
Naruto gulped, his blood began to rush and his heart quickened. Slowly, he took a step back from her, earning a look of confusion from the woman.
She narrowed her eyes but then relaxed again in understanding. Her relationship with Naruto had finally made it to its crossroad when he finally got down on one knee.
"Sakura-chan, marry me,"
Hinata paused; she leaned back against her chair, well aware of the children's piercing gazes on her.
They were waiting for the conclusion.
It was funny how she hesitated, this was a story she had commit to memory. Yet Hinata didn't have the heart to tell the rest. She shook her head in disapproval, at her own weakness, but most importanly at Sakura's bad tastes. Sakura made her decision, now it was time for Hinata to make hers.
For once in her life, Hinata Hyuuga will have her way.
Sakura look at the man before her, it had been a while since she had seen him this vulnerable. His blue eyes asked for acceptance, the kind of acceptance she denied him almost all her life. Realization crashed on her, almost suffocating her in the process. She had taken granted of him, of the man who had known her the most, the man who stayed with her through all the shit in her life.
She just hadn't realized that even back when they were children at the Academy, her life had been his life too.
He squeezed Sakura's hand tighter, bringing her back to reality and she focused once again on his pleading face; the face that had long lost its childhood innocence.
"Yes," she said softly.
The expression on his face was something stuck between astonishment and disbelief. Those gorgeous blue eyes searched hers, wondering if those shimmering glints on her eyes were really tears.
"I want to marry you," Sakura laughed, as those she couldn't believe the answer herself.
Now it was his turn to laugh, deep gentle laughter filled the Uchiha house. Naruto lifted himself off his knees and immediately pulled her in for a hug. Sakura closed her eyes and breathed in his musky, masculine scent.
"You have no idea how long I have waited to hear you say that," he muttered.
The news of two weddings between some of the village's most famous ninja was circulating Konoha like wildfire. The villagers were bustling about, giving their congratulations whenever a chance was presented. At the moment, however, Neji and Tenten were getting the most attention since the Hyuuga wedding was to precede the Uzumaki's by a month.
With their names entering household conversations, it wasn't a surprise that Sakura and Naruto's engagement was the first thing Neji heard about when he got back from a quick mission. He immediately sought her out and Sakura soon found out that her preference to avoid him was no match for his determination.
She found him in her office, sitting on her chair with a smug look on his face.
"So you're getting married," he was the first to speak.
"It's not exactly fresh news," she answered indifferently.
Suddenly, all smugness and indifference dissipated from their faces. There was no point in keeping appearances in front of each other. They were in each other's mercy, fragile and vulnerable. Anymore words and it could break them both.
"I'm in love with you," Neji said simply.
They became broken people.
By some strange forces of nature, Sakura found herself agreeing to be one of Tenten's bridesmaids. Or maybe it wasn't so much forces of nature; oblivious to the pink haired medic's efforts to refuse the offer, Ino and Tenten had both opted to drag her off and managed to squeeze her in a small frilly dress. Ino and Sakura had been following the new bride-to-be to every dress shop in all of Fire Country. They soon figured out that even though Tenten was a small woman, she was vicious.
"Ooh, sexy," Ino shrilled, twirling around in the small dress.
"I half expected this to be one of those weddings where the bridesmaids look like shit," Sakura said, her hands patting down the peach colored dress.
"I might even pick up some hot guy at the wedding and have him deflower me," the blond continued.
Tenten and Sakura looked at each other in amusement.
"Deflower you?" the weapon master asked incredulously, trying to hold back wheezes of laugher.
"The entire male population in Konoha is probably drowned in your damned petals," Sakura embellished, and at that point Tenten could no longer contain her laughter.
Ino uttered a few words of protests and opted to go off to find a seamstress to make her dress shorter. After the blond left the dressing room, the remaining two women stood in their dresses in silence. Sakura wasn't sure if Tenten knew about Neji, but from the heavy atmosphere it wouldn't be surprising if she did.
"Sakura… I have something to ask you," Tenten began tentatively, her fingers tugging on the white lace.
"It's Neji, I know that he probably doesn't see me anymore than just a teammate. He's only marrying me to carry out his clan's wishes," the brunette started, Sakura could see the lines of worry on her brows.
"He'll love you in time," Sakura assured the vulnerable woman in front of her, "You're already wearing the dress, it's not suitable to worry about frivolous things,"
"I know you have been spending sometime with him, so you must know… does he have feelings for another woman?"
Sakura couldn't help but admire how beautiful Tenten looked in her wedding dress. The long white gown that touched the ground lightly as she walked, that hugged her waist perfectly, that would match Neji's own tux. The brunette looked fragile, and Sakura wouldn't dare break her. Neji was already a broken man, he needed a person to mend him.
"No, there is nobody else," she assured.
Tenten breathed out in relief and got back to admiring herself in the mirror. Both women turned around when Ino walked in proudly, flaunting her fabulous legs, the dress was now considerably shorter,
"Oh my," came simultaneous utters of surprise.
One month passed since the Hyuuga wedding, and then it was Sakura's turn to assume the role of the busy bride. Taking experience from Tenten's own wedding, Ino's dress was to be longer than the other bridesmaids'. Instead of a big wedding like the Hyuuga's, Sakura opted for a smaller one, despite Naruto's insistence that she should make it a day she could remember.
"My wedding with Sasuke-kun had taken months to plan, hundreds of paychecks and even more invites. Yet, I hardly remember the details," she had answered.
It was the big day and Tenten and Ino were busy getting ready to walk their friend down the aisle. Sakura had originally wanted three bridesmaids for the odd number, but Hinata had gracefully declined.
"Tenten, when are you going to tell Neji that you're pregnant?" Sakura asked as Ino zipped up her simple wedding gown.
"Hmm… soon, I want to surprise him," she smiled fondly at her flat stomach.
"Well… ready ladies?" Sakura asked, "Let's get married,"
Naruto almost couldn't breathe when he saw her emerged from the house, Sakura was absolutely radiant. She clung to Kakashi's arm as he walked her down the aisle, Sakura had been disappointed however, when the last of the Sharingan user refused to take off his mask for the occasion. The silver haired man gave her a quick kiss on the cheek before taking a seat next to his wife. Once he sat down, he held onto Kurenai happily and couldn't help but boast to Gai that his kids made a better couple.
All eyes were on the bride and her exquisite beauty as she approached the altar and was welcomed into the Hokage's arms.
"Do you, Naruto Uzumaki, take this woman to be your lawfully wedded wife?"
"And do you, take this man?"
The children were silent.
"So in the end, she married the Sixth Hokage," the little girl muttered to herself.
"Yes Sari," Hinata smiled gently, patting the child's soft hair.
They stared at their teacher's face and some gasped in astonishment when they realized that she wasn't as old as they had originally thought. It was as if in the past five days, she had gotten younger. The ending seemed to release her and the children couldn't help but noticed how pretty she actually was.
"Now that the story is over, it's time to go," Hinata clapped her hands and sent them off.
She remained behind, sitting on the soft chair and opted to look out the window. Her eyes landed on the Hokage mountain and lingered on the likeness of the Sixth. She ignored the steady footsteps that were approaching her.
"That was not how the story ended."
"No, but that was the end that he wanted. Even as a child it's always been his dream to be with her you see," she answered without turning to look at the newcomer.
"I like your ending better, even if it's not real."
"A distortion of the past or not, as long as the legacy of the Sixth Hokage is concerned, he married the woman he loved,"
Kiba couldn't help but marvel at his wife. Naruto had been a fool.
There she sat, with the sun washed down on her face, the woman who rewrote history just because the man she loved wanted it to be so.
He offered her his hand and she took it with a smile. The couple walked leisurely, enjoying each other's comfortable presence. They made their way outside of the Academy to a vast green field and stopped at a small piece of land. It was famous Konoha cemetery, the resting place for the heroes of Leaf Village.
Each tombstone bore a familiar name, there was Sasuke Uchiha who died in an A ranked mission. Shikamaru Nara, who lost his life during an enemy interrogation. Ino Nara who was executed during a low profile, undercover mission when a foreign lord found out she was a Leaf kunoichi. Lastly, they lingered for a little while when they got to the last grave. Before them were the characters of Sakura Hyuuga carved into stone.
Sometimes a story is not as history remembers it; it is as the teller wants it to be.
Because even though Sakura had chosen Neji, Hinata will always choose Naruto.