Hey. It's been a while. I swear, they're trying to drown us in homework… But don't tell them I said that. shifty eyes :slamhead:

Ahem. I have been spending too much time on deviantART, and so I have acquired a habit of adding :slamhead: to the end of all of my sentences. I'm sorry.

Disclamer: I don't own Naruto. Or do I? Bum bum bum…

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Haruno Sakura's life has been changed many times by various sequences of three words.

I. "It's a girl."

Her father and mother sigh in relief, because if she had been a boy, she'd never have heard the end of it about her pink hair.

II. "You're our Sakura-chan."

The earliest memory she has is of her parents smiling at her and telling her they love her.

III. "Big-Forehead Girl"

She is dubbed this cruel nickname and withdraws inside herself, only to emerge when Ino rescues her.

IV. "You like Sasuke-kun?"

It is three meaningful words that start the bitter rivalry between Sakura and her best friend.

V. "Don't tell anyone."

At the Chuunin Exams, she promises him that she will keep silent; it does not matter, as those who can help see the cursed seal anyways.

VI. "Don't worry, Sakura."

She still worries (how can she not?), but it is slightly less stressful watching Sasuke because of Kakashi's words. He is her sensei, after all, and she trusts him.

VII. "Thank you, Sakura."

When she tries to stop him from leaving, Sasuke leaves her and Konoha with nothing but three words and a memory.

VIII. "Please teach me."

She is so determined to become stronger that the Godaime Hokage cannot help but agree to help her. She learns quickly, and Tsunade is proud.

IX. "Bring him back."

In a desperate voice, she asks the impossible of Naruto, who only gives her a promise made in the "good-guy" pose. When he comes back empty-handed, she smiles sadly and thanks him anyway.

X. Killed In Action

When her parents are both killed on a mission, she becomes ANBU in order to finish it for them. Kakashi's name joins theirs on the memorial when he dies in her arms, and she finally understands why he used to visit it every day.

XI. Captured By Akatsuki

On an S-ranked solo mission, she is captured. Five months later, she returns to Konoha. Tsunade and Morino Ibiki both talk to her, but all they can pry from her is that it was Akatsuki; she will say no more.

XII. "Teme came back!"

Naruto drags a reluctant Sakura to the front gates, where said bastard is standing beside Team Hebi.

XIII. "Itachi is dead."

These three words mark the end of his long conquest at last, but Sakura does not feel any relief. With a face of stone, she stiffly welcomes him back and disappears. The others watch, baffled.

XIV. Restore The Clan

When he seeks her out and asks her to marry him, she almost accepts – until she asks him why. He replies bluntly, without regard for her feelings, and she slams the door in his face. She refuses to be used by someone who doesn't love her, as if she is livestock for breeding. The next day, he announces an engagement to Karin.

XV. Smile of Pity

When Karin visits Sakura to gloat about her fiancé, Sakura only smiles; not a forced cheerful smile, but a true smile of pity. Sasuke has no feelings for either of them; Karin will regret her choice in the end.

XVI. Oh, The Irony

Finally, the silence of her home is too much to bear, and she leaves Konoha, ironically taking the same road as Sasuke did, years ago. Ironically, he is out for a walk and tries to stop her.

XVII. "Tell me Why!"

He demands to know why she is betraying the village. While Inner Sakura rants and swears ("You hypocritical bastard!"), Sakura only looks away and replies that she has loved two men in her life. The first was Sasuke, who left her, and now he's taken away the second.

XVIII. "You killed him."

Sasuke's eyes narrow at the implication. "No," he hisses. "Not my brother! He's a murderer!" She answers softly that no matter what he was, she loved him. Sasuke's mouth opens to speak. "He's dead, Sakura. Get over him."

XIX. "I hate you."

She hisses venomously at him, in a tone he's never heard directed at him before. This is so different from the Sakura he used to know that he is struck speechless for a moment.

XX. "You lied, Sasuke."

A figure in a black cloak with red clouds materializes at her back. She whirls and stares at him; he smirks. Then she throws herself into his arms and begs him to take her away. He complies, leaving Sasuke to fume in anger.

XXI. "I love you."

He sets her down gently and says the three words that Sasuke has never said to her. She cries and he holds her as if he'll never let her go.

XXII. Happily Ever After

In the shinobi world, there is no such thing as the perfect ending. But as she sits in Itachi's arms, watching the sun set over the horizon, she smiles contentedly and thinks that this is the closest they can get.

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I'm done. I typed this on the crappy school computers, and was too lazy to give it to my beta-chan, so I apologize for any spelling/grammar errors. And the Roman numerals were annoying…