A/N: Thank you all for your reviews!
All right, Everyone. It's time for the last chapter. This is the last one so be ready to see what happens next. Read and Review.
Naruto-Heart of Honor: Sixteen
The Haruno Compound was rather quiet as Sakura approached the gates. It had taken her almost a day to walk back. She was in a state of jitters as she went. She had taken her time on getting home, afraid of what would happen when she did get home. She was afraid that her father would be so mad at her and her mother would scream and holler at her. She wondered what would happen if she was disowned from the family. The thought of having to leave again really hurt.
Her jitters turned into icy fear as soon as she even saw the gates of her home. She was finally back. She had finally returned after nearly seven months at war. She wondered what would happen next as she just stood in front of the gates of her home, staring at the wood. She couldn't find herself to open the doors and poke her head in. She was too nervous.
But after almost fifteen minutes of standing there, she decided that she would sneak in. The first person she wanted to see was her father. She didn't want anyone else to see her just yet.
Sakura climbed up the wall of her family's compound and crouch low on top of it, looking down at the activities going on. She could already see that most of the workers were already at work, going about their daily chores. Her mother was hanging up bed sheets up on the clothesline, looking rather passive. The pink haired Shinobi felt her heart starting to pump harder to see her mom. She had missed her so much. But where was her father? There was only one place she could think of. So she walked along the wall, ducking now and then when she could have sworn someone was going to see her. And finally, she reached the Haruno Clan's cherry orchard. The trees were full of cherries now, with no cherry blossoms. It was still quite the garden though with summer blossoms.
There, Haruno Daisuke was sitting under their favorite tree.
Suke looked like he was asleep while sitting against the tree's trunk, but Sakura could tell that he wasn't. She had picked up the ability to read someone's expressions well after spending so much time with the men. There was a little sorrow on her father's face. A look of loneliness, sorrow and extreme worry. She knew that it was about her. It couldn't be anything else.
Sakura sat in the branches of one of the trees for a moment, watching her father as he just sat there. She felt her heart cracking a little to see that look on his face. She had never seen that look on his face before and it was very heart shattering. She never wanted to see it again. Without a word, she quietly climbed down the tree and approached her father as silently as she could. She frowned when he didn't respond as she moved closer. But as soon as she stopped ten feet away from him and stood in front of him, Suke's face changed a little. He was definitely sensing someone close by. After a minute, his eyes opened and he looked right at his daughter. He was surprised to see her there. He hadn't expected to see her again.
"Sakura." The old man whispered as he started to stand.
Sakura quickly moved forward, kneeling close to him so that he couldn't stand up. She would have rather that he sat down as she talked to him. Her hands quickly grabbed at the Shinobi forehead protector around her head and pulled it off. "Father, I'm home. I have brought news of the war's status. Lord Orochimaru and his Sound Ninja army has been defeated. The County of Fire is safe now." She told him before bowing her head as she lowered her forehead protector onto his lap. "I have brought home my proof that I have become Shinobi and have helped defeat the wicked Sanin. It's also a gift from the Honorable Hokage to uphold the Haruno Clan's honor."
Then before Suke, Sakura bent over, bowing before her father, not daring to look up into his eyes. She couldn't. She didn't want to see the look of anger in his eyes for what she had put him and her mother through. For dishonoring him and taking his place at the Shinobi Army camp. She didn't think she could bare it if she saw that look.
But Sakura was very surprised when Suke pushed the forehead protector off his lap and grabbed her by the shoulders, pulling her into a tight embrace. "Oh, my little Sakura. The only honor I possess is having you for a daughter." Suke said with a voice full of emotion.
Sakura blinked in surprise as she was being hugged by her father but slowly, she wrapped her arms around him, hugging him back. Tears of joy filled her eyes as she realized that her father was not angry. He was so happy that she was back safely and alive. "Father, I'm so sorry……"
Suke pulled away, keeping his hands onto her shoulders. He was smiling softly with tear-rimmed eyes. "My little cherry blossom, I don't care anymore. I don't care that you ran away from home to join the army. I'm only happy that you are back in my arms and safe from harm. I am only happy to see you again." He told her. Sakura smiled right back before she threw her arms around her father and hugged him tightly. She was so happy that he was taking a lot better than she had expected. And she was even happier that she was home. She had missed her father and mother so much. "Father, thank you." She whispered to him.
Later that evening, there was a small celebration at the Haruno Residence because of Sakura's return. Her father and mother had not stopped embracing her, not that anyone could blame them. The workers had helped set up a few decorations and some of her mother's workers cooked up a large meal to celebrate Sakura's honor. They were all happy to see her. All of them were begging Sakura to tell them about her Shinobi training and what it was like being surrounded by men. Even her parents wanted to hear about it. So Sakura told them everything. She told everyone how she ran away and disguised herself as a man. She told them about her first day and how she almost got kicked out. She even started laughing when the men did on how she explained Naruto's first reaction to her.
"Well, I don't know. Ramen is pretty good and you should never interrupt a man when he's trying to eat." One of the hands joked.
Sakura just rolled her eyes and continued on with the story of her training. She told her father how badly she struggled while training under Hatake Kakashi and the Shinobi Elites. Most of the men were surprised to hear that it had been Kakashi who had been the Commander of the Shinobi Recruits. Her father was not one of them. Instead, he just looked rather thoughtful as he listened to some of the men complain about how shameful it must have been to work with Kakashi. So obviously, they didn't think highly of the Hatake Clan.
Sakura, however, shut them up really quick by slamming her fist into the ground, causing a minor crater. She apologized to her mother, who didn't seem bothered at all. She was actually laughing with her father and some of the women while the men all looked at Sakura with fear. The one thing that Sakura did not tell everyone about was the problem at the river right after she had become the first Shinobi. She thought that one was too embarrassing. Especially with most of the men. After spending so days and nights with the men in the army, she knew how crude they could be. So she decided to keep that one to herself. That is until her father asked about it. He had had a feeling she was hiding something so he and her mother pulled her into the house and asked if anything bad happened or embarrassing. Sakura didn't want to lie to them so she told them the truth. She told them that she had tried to take a bath in the river and ended up with a bunch of naked men. As expected, her mother nearly fainted while her father chuckled with amusement. He obviously took it a lot better than her mother did.
However, as the celebration drew on, something that Sakura had been expecting happened. She received visitors. One of the hands had heard someone knocking at the gates so he had went to investigate. He came back flustered and shocked with a pair of smiling blonde Shinobi right behind him. Namikaze-Uzumaki Minato and Naruto.
"Minato-senpai!" Sakura gasped as soon as she saw them. "Naruto!"
Naruto grinned as he rushed forward and threw an arm around her, hugging her tight. He didn't even pay any attention to any of the workers as they looked rather surprised or confused. Even Sakura's mother looked stunned. But Suke just smiled as he greeted his old friend. "Hiya, Sakura! How's it going?!" Naruto asked in his loud and obnoxious voice. But Sakura smiled as she pulled away from him. She was happy to see him again, of course. "I'm okay. But what are you doing here?"
"We were passing by, on our way home, Sakura-kun." Minato said as he stepped closer to her. "We just thought it would be nice to stop by and see if you got home all right. Plus I wanted to make sure things were going well after your return."
Suke just smiled as he put an arm around Sakura's shoulders. "Things are back to normal, Minato-san. I am so grateful to you for watching over my little cherry blossom. I was so afraid that something bad would have happened to her." He told the blonde Shinobi. Minato just smiled back at him as he placed his hand on Naruto's shoulder, shaking his head. "Do not thank me, Daisuke-senpai. Thank my son, Naruto. He had been watching over her, watching her back as she progressed. Of course, he did not know that she was a girl until recently. But, as you can see, they are fast friends, no matter." He said gently. His eyes then lit up before he turned around just as another pair of visitors arrived. "Ah. It seems to me that you have more guests."
"Zaku-kun! We came to visit you!!" Rock Lee said as he ran through the even more surprised hands. Behind him, a grinning Gai was following just as quickly.
Sakura looked at them with surprise, her eyes wide as saucers when she saw the boutique of flowers in the very unusual but energetic young man's arms. She didn't take them right away as he held them out to her. "Lee?! Gai-sensai?! Wh-what are you doing here?!" She gasped. But her eyes grew wider when she saw that there were a few more arrivals. Neji with Hinata and a man, whom she knew was her father, Lord Hyuuga, and Neji's uncle. Next to them, was Shikamaru and his father. And then Shino, Choji, Sai and every one of her friends. They were all carrying parcels and gifts. "Wh-What..."
"Don't be surprised, Sakura." Shikamaru said lazily. His hands were shoved into his pockets, matching the very stance as his father, who looked exactly like him. In fact, they looked so alike that it was alarming. "We're comrades, remember? Besides, we thought it'd be cool to show your folks that we don't hate you for lying and deceiving us, making us look like idiots because we thought you were a boy..."
Sakura was giving the lazy Shinobi a very dry look as he prattled on. She was annoyed that he was going on like that, even though she knew he was joking. But still, did he really have to tell everyone at her home that? But she smirked when Sasuke pushed right through the ground, smacking the procrastinated Shinobi over the head.
"Knock off, lame ass." He said dryly before looking at Sakura. "Hey."
"Sasuke?!" Sakura yelped with surprise then looked to see that Itachi was right behind him. He gave her a nod, while ignoring some of the alarmed looks he was getting from the workers. They obviously know who he was and what he had done but he didn't pay them any mind. Suke was a little surprised to see him too when the longhaired rogue ninja showed up. "Oh." He found himself say. Sakura just glanced at him before moving forward to Sasuke and Itachi, giving them both a nod. "Hey, Sasuke, Itachi. It's good to see you both again." She turned her eyes onto Itachi, who looked back. "Thanks for standing up for me, though, Itachi-san. You know, for protecting me from Orochimaru." She said, smiling.
Itachi just lazily shook his head as he kept his eyes on hers. "It was no problem, Haruno-san. I only did it because you are my younger brother's friend and comrade. I have caused him enough pain so I could not do it again." He told her.
Sakura only nodded before looking around at all of the Shinobi she had befriended. "But what are you doing here? I thought you were going home. And..."
Neji shook his head calm as ever as he folded his arms. "We wanted to visit you, Sakura, and my uncle has heard of what you have done." He looked up at the tall Lord of the Hyuuga Clan, who stepped closer. "I believe that is the same reason of the rest of the Clans. My family has learned of what you have done for the Fire Country and what you have done for me. They wish to thank you for your help." He told her. Lord Hyuuga nodded as he tilted his head towards a blushing Hinata, who held up box. Then he turned his pure white eyes onto Sakura. "As Lord of the Hyuuga Clan, I, along with our entire Clan wish to thank you for helping Neji while at war. You have the deepest gratitude of the Hyuuga Clan." He told her. Sakura could not stop herself from slowly touching her mouth in surprise. She felt incredibly touched at his words. But she was even more surprised when all of her friends held up their own boxes and gifts.
"It's the same with my clan, I guess." Shikamaru said lazily. "My father wanted to meet the one girl who managed to outwit me." He looked rather annoyed by this. "I'm a guy with an IQ of 200 and I never saw it coming that you were a girl. He thought that was too damn hilarious."
Sakura blinked in surprise but then burst into laughter, along with everyone else in the yard. They couldn't help it. Shikamaru was actually embarrassed that a girl tricked him. Even his father was laughing as his son was starting to turn red from embarrassment and anger. But after a minute, Shikamaru's face softened while he rolled his eyes. "Yeah, yeah. Laugh it up. At least I'm not the one who saw a dozen naked guys in a river." He said smirking. Sakura stopped laughing as she looked at him with wide eyes. The other men also stopped, but they were blushing bright red while both the Heads of each of the Clans just laughed harder. All of the young Shinobi just kept on blushing or rubbing the back of their necks.
The days passed slowly and Sakura received frequent visits from all of her friends, minus one silver-white haired Shinobi. She was disappointed that night when Kakashi didn't show up to help her and all of the Shinobi celebrate the freedom with the Haruno Clan. In fact, no one really seemed to know where he went off to. Even Minato told Sakura that right after she left Konohagakure, Kakashi had vanished. He and Naruto had made a quick stop at the Hatake Residence but Kakashi had not been there. The lights were off and it didn't look like anyone was home. That made Sakura worry just a little. She wondered where he was and if he was all right. She really hoped that he was okay. She wanted to go see him, just to check up on him but she was a little nervous about doing it. She was pretty sure that he didn't want to see her right now. If he did, he would have came to visit. So she kept her peace.
Though the days went by, Sakura went about her daily routine on the house chores with her mother and the workers. She helped them keep the house all nice and helped out in the gardens. Occasionally, she spared with her father to keep up with her Shinobi skills. She loved doing that. And even though her father had a limp in his leg, he still had his Shinobi techniques. He even gave Sakura a good run for her money. They really liked sparing with one another. It kept Sakura in shape.
Slowly, the summer passed and turned into Fall, which became a very cold Winter. Still, Sakura received visits from her friends. She had been invited to a few wedding ceremonies during those days. Naruto and Hinata finally got married, as did Neji and Tenten, who had been paired up with one another. Sakura was happy for each of her friends as they were paired up with a woman. Rock Lee found his own love with a girl that Sakura didn't really know. She found it really amusing when Ino ended up being paired with Choji. She hadn't been expecting it but at least Ino didn't seem to mind. In fact, she seemed really pleased.
"He's really not fat. You just got to get him to let go some of his Chakra and he'll be a normal size." Ino said pleasantly after she had been unified with Choji. She then smirked at Sakura who was watching Choji eat a large rice cake. "I'll tell you what that I don't mind being big though." She added with a smug smile.
Immediately Sakura covered her ears. She did not want to hear anything weird from Ino. Especially about Choji. She was still getting used to the fact that he was one of her friends and to hear about…..that did not settle too well on her part. What she found even more amusing was how the foreigner, Temari had some how dragged Shikamaru to the alter. Sakura had no idea how she managed to get the lazy idiot but she had. She had spent three days laughing and giggling about it. And even laughed harder when some how the wild card Anko somehow got Gai's attention. The poor fool seemed rather confused about it too. There were a few rumors about it. Some said that she was only interested in his reputation or something. But no one could tell for sure.
But every night, Sakura spent at least an hour looking out the window, staring up at the night sky as she thought about Kakashi. She felt rather lonely without him. She wondered how he was doing. She hoped he was okay. Of course the one thing she wanted to know the most was why she was feeling like the entire world had crashed right on top of her head. She couldn't stop thinking about him. She thought about him night and day, during meal time and even during her chores. She couldn't help but feel like there was a weight on her chest. And a few times, she found herself cry.
However, one night, her mother had caught her tearing up a little as she sat out on the porch looking up on the winter moon. She only frowned before asking her what was wrong. Of course, Sakura only tried to pretend that the chilly wind had hurt her eyes a little but the look on her mother's face told her to tell the truth.
"I'm……I'm just thinking…..about one of the men, mother. My Shinobi Commander, Hatake Kakashi. I don't know why. I guess I'm just a little worried about him. He's the only one who hasn't come visit me since the war ended. Even Morino Ibiki has come to visit and he didn't even like me that much." Sakura told her in a low voice. "I…..just can't stop thinking about him."
There was a pause before Haruno Rukia smiled. She seemed to see right through Sakura's heart. She knew what her daughter was feeling now. And she wasn't entirely surprised. After hearing all that Sakura had been through, she wasn't surprised that Sakura might have feelings for the Heir of the Hatake Clan. "Sakura, when he is ready, he will come visit you. He'd have to be crazy not to." She told her as she reached up and pushed a long strand behind Sakura's ear. "And do not stop thinking about him. If the fates are kind, you will be happy in the end." And she said no more. It left Sakura in a state of confusion but she didn't bother asking her mother about it.
Finally, the New Year had come and Spring soon followed. The snow had melted, showing the cherry blossom buds growing on the branches, which were slowly opening up. Sakura spent most of the time in the chilly day taking care of them. Her father would occasionally help her out. They were expecting very beautiful cherry blossoms this year. It was more than likely they were going to have a very good year, if the omens were right. Even better, Sakura's lovely pink hair had regrown and was almost the same length as it had before she cut it to become Zaku.
However, something that Sakura had not been expecting happened. She received a summoning scroll from the Matchmaker, Tsunade.
Sakura was definitely nervous about having to see that woman again. She wondered what it would be about. She had passed the age of being matched up. But by the looks of this scroll, that didn't matter to the beautiful, gray wearing woman. She had summoned Sakura to try again to become a bride. The pink haired Shinobi was almost too tempted of just blowing the woman off. It was more than likely Tsunade was going to criticize her for wanting love again. But her mother made her change her mind.
So with no real choice, Sakura agreed to go see the matchmaker again.
On the day of the visit, Sakura prepared herself to go through the same thing as she had a year ago. She scrubbed herself clean, dressed and put on the make up, just going through the same routine to become a bride again. She was going to wear the same red and pink kimono as the year before. Only this time, she was going to wear her Shinobi headband with it. She didn't really care if Tsunade was going to be amused or not. She wanted to be a Shinobi.
And as expected, Tsunade frowned as soon as she saw the forehead protector on top of Sakura's head, serving as a decorative headband. She didn't say anything as Sakura just sat down across from her, not looking nervous at all, even though she really was.
There was a short pause as Tsunade looked Sakura over, though her eyes kept returning to the forehead protector. She stared at it for a minute then looked right into Sakura's eyes. "So, the rumors are true. You have become Shinobi. Or is that a stolen forehead protector from your father."
"No, ma-am. It's real as can be. I have become Shinobi, as of last year, and the first Kunoichi." Sakura said in a proud way.
Tsunade just stared at her dryly as she folded her arms and leaned back in her chair. She didn't seem amused but it wasn't like the pink haired girl cared. "I also heard that you pretended to be a man. That's really stupid, you know? To cut your hair, wear men's clothes. Why couldn't you just be who you were?" She asked dryly.
Sakura frowned at the beautiful blonde but shook her head as she copied the woman's sitting position. She even folded her arms, as if mocking her a little. "Because back then, I didn't know who I was. To everyone else, I was just some pretty little girl with pink hair and was meant to be a bride. I wasn't satisfied with just being a failure as a bride, so I tried a career change. And as you might have heard, it worked out."
"Hmm." Tsunade hummed, her face emotionless. "I also heard a curious rumor about you bathing with men. That is one of the most disgraceful things I've ever heard."
Sakura glared at Tsunade when the words were out of her mouth. She wasn't sure who told the matchmaker that but it did make her cheeks heat up a little. "Okay, that one is a rumor. I did not bathe with men. I just sat on the sidelines while they made me talk to them while they were bathing. Besides, I was pretending to be a guy, remember? I was careful. And even so, it's my own business."
Tsunade was definitely not amused with that answer. She glared right back at the pink haired 19 year old, who met her challenge of a glaring contest. They just glared at one another for a long time before the matchmaker shifted her head to the side. "I'm also curious. Has your answer changed since the last time we met?" She asked. Sakura frowned with confusion but then she realized what she was talking about. "If you're talking about what I want most out of a relationship with a man, then no. I still want love. I deserve love. I'm not going to change my mind about."
Again, Tsunade gave her a dry look. She was again not amused by her answer. "Love is for fools, Haruno Sakura."
"No, it is not. There is nothing wrong about love, Tsunade-san." Sakura just said as dryly.
That seemed to surprise Tsunade on the bold answer. She was not used to someone talking to her like this. But she was curious nonetheless. "Oh really?" She asked folding her hands together. "Do tell. Explain to me what is not wrong with love? As far as I'm concerned, love is a joke." She told her.
Sakura just shook her head as she looked the blonde right in the eye. She wasn't sure how she was going to explain it to her. But then Kakashi's words that night at the river came back to her. She paused as she remembered them. "There is nothing wrong with love at all, Tsunade-san. There is no more honorable way in a relationship than love." She found herself smiling as she remembered Kakashi's exact words. "Without love, there is not perfect match. If I want love in a relationship, then I should get it." She told Tsunade. Then after a long silence between them, Sakura frowned as she blinked out of her thoughts. "I'm sorry, Tsunade-san. I'm only wasting your time. There is no match for me that you can find. I have to find my own match." She stood up and bowed to the woman. "I'm sorry for wasting your time." Then the pink haired woman started towards the door.
However, Tsunade found herself grinning as she rest her chin on her hands. "On contrary, Haruno-san." She spoke up, making Sakura stop and turn to look at her. "I think I found you the perfect match. For being so bold as you are, there is only one man I can think of that could use a young bride like you." She grinned even more, though that scared Sakura by the sight of it. It was not an innocent grin at all. "Mind you, he is older than you by far. And he's already got gray hair. But he could use a feisty young bride such as yourself." Tsunade said as she dropped her hands.
Sakura went very pale as she stared at the evil grin on the blonde matchmaker's face. She didn't like that look at all. It looked so……so….evil. This woman did not have anything good planned for her. "Erm….um….wh-who is this…..man you're t-talking about?" She asked nervously, her courage gone.
Tsunade just grinned even more evilly as she picked up a bell on the table and rang it. She just continued to look right at Sakura in her evil way even as the door slid open and in came her assistant, Shizune. "Shizune, send for Jiraiya immediately. Tell him we have found him a match." She told her. Shizune blinked in surprise as she looked at her employer before glancing over at Sakura worriedly. "Jir-Jiraiya, ma-am? But isn't he a little too old for her? He's nearly fifty now, isn't he?"
Sakura went very pale to hear that. Her entire body just went so cold, as if she had just been caught in an ice storm. 'Sh-she can't possibly……!' She thought in horror. "You're pairing me up with a fifty year old man?!" She found herself screeching.
"So what if I am?" Tsunade asked with her evil humor. "You should have watched yourself, Haruno. I'm not one who you should challenge. Now prepare yourself. In two days, you will meet your groom. Either you like him, or not." She told her before she stood up and was out of the room, leaving a very horrified Sakura.
When Sakura got home that night, she immediately ran to her father with tears in her eyes. She didn't know who this Jiraiya was but it was more than likely that she was not going to like him at all. The thought of being married to a fifty year old man scared her. She had to find out from her father. Daisuke was in the garden though, looking over the cherry blossoms. That is until he felt Sakura's presence. He turned with a smile to greet her, only to be surprised when she threw her arms around him, crying into his chest. "My cherry!" he said in alarm. "What is the matter?"
"Father! She's horrible! That matchmaker is the most horrible woman I've ever met!" Sakura gasped against him before pulling away and looking at him with wide eyes. "Father, tell me what the odds are of her matches! Is there anyway I can get out of a match with a man?!"
Suke frowned in surprise as he wrapped his arms around her but then looked worried. He didn't like the looks of this. If his little cherry was crying, then something had really gone wrong. And if it was the match that the matchmaker made, he winced to think about it. "I'm afraid, Sakura, that once Tsunade makes her decision, she never changes her mind. And she always gets her way." He then took her hands, frowning when Sakura burst into tears. "Come sit down with me, Sakura. Tell me what happened."
It took her a long time to even get the words out of her mouth but Sakura finally told her father what had happened during the meeting and what was said. Then she explained to her father that Tsunade said that she was going to be matched up with a man named Jiraiya. She paused in one of her sentences when she saw how confused her father looked. He seemed to be thinking rather hard about this.
"Father, tell me. Who is Jiraiya?" Sakura asked worriedly through her tears.
Daisuke frowned as he rubbed his chin, thinking to himself for a moment. But after a minute, he looked at Sakura. "Hmm? Oh. Jiraiya? Well," He pulled a face. "He's actually a famous Shinobi. One of the Three Famous Shinobi. You see, Sakura. As you have been told, you have been made the first Kunoichi of this generation. But you are not the first Kuniochi in history. In fact, Lady Tsunade is the official first." He said, surprising her. "Jiraiya is also a famous Shinobi. And the third was once Orochimaru. Jiraiya, however, he……he's very famous with the jutsu he performs, of course. But he also happens to be the Fire Country's number one……" He stopped himself with a wince.
"Number one what?" Sakura asked worriedly.
Her father sighed. "Jiraiya-sensai happens to be the number one Pervert ninja in the entire Fire Country. He's well known to doing a lot of peeping at Women's bathing houses." He told her.
Sakura's face went even paler than ever. She was almost sheet white to hear that. She couldn't believe it. She was paired up with a pervert! How could this happen?! How could Tsunade do this to her?! Oh yeah. She did it to her because Sakura had challenged her matching ideas. Not being able to handle it anymore, Sakura fainted.
The two days passed slowly and each hour that passed during those two days felt more like the hours of her life were slipping away. She felt like her life was about to end. She had done quite a bit of crying during those days. She locked herself in her room, not eating nor sleeping, no matter how much her mother tried to coax her. Eventually, Suke grew too worried so he sent for Minato. The Shinobi General arrived around the afternoon, looking rather worried. He tried to coax Sakura out of her room so that they could talk. She had come out all right but only to throw her arms around him and cry into his chest. She told him that she didn't want to marry an old pervert like Jiraiya. She begged him to put a stop to this. To do anything to stop the match. Minato was surprised to hear that but after a moment, he finally had her calmed down and eating. He promised her that he would find out what in the world was going on. And that day, he went to see Tsunade.
Unfortunately, he returned with a faint smile and told her that Tsunade's decision could not be changed. "Just relax, Sakura. It won't be that bad." He promised her.
"NOT THAT BAD?!" Sakura gasped in a loud voice making everyone wince. "YOU TRY GETTING MARRIED TO A FIFTY YEAR OLD MAN WHO ALSO HAPPENS TO BE THE BIGGEST PERVERT THEN YOU TELL ME IT'S NOT THAT BAD!" Then she was off into her room again.
The day she was to meet her groom was more like doomsday for Sakura. She felt as if the world was going to end, even if it was a very beautiful day. She wanted to curse the gorgeous golden sun for even showing its face. She wanted it to be rainy and gloomy like her feelings were. But the weather was not going to comply. She felt like she wanted to die now.
Sakura's mother helped her that morning, though she didn't very much herself. She let her mother help her get cleaned up and picked out a very beautiful white kimono to wear when she would be married. She just sat on a stool while her mother did her hair and make up, staring off. She wondered more about Kakashi now that she was just sitting there. She severely wished that he could just show up before this whole arrangement could happen and she would beg him to take her away from there so she didn't get matched with an old perverted man. But she knew it was an empty hope. Kakashi hadn't been to see her for nearly five months now. There probably wasn't going to be any sign of him now. But as she sat there on the stool. Something began to dawn on her. She was starting to realize why she had spent so many days thinking about him and crying over his disappearance.
'I'm in love with him, aren't I?' She thought with sudden realization. Her heart pounded even harder to even think that. But then it nearly shattered when she remembered that she was about to be matched up with someone else. 'Too late now.' She thought bitterly.
Soon, Tsunade showed up with her assistant, Shizune. She was probably there to make sure that Sakura wasn't going to run away. And she seemed pleased to see how terrified the pink haired young woman looked. "You should be happy, Haruno, that you're getting matched up. Your groom isn't exactly what I would pick for myself but you two will get along so well." She teased.
"Lady Tsunade," Daisuke said dryly as he walked into the room with, surprisingly, Minato. "Do not tease my daughter. She isn't exactly feeling well this day and you can't really blame her. It is her match up day and anyone would be nervous about this day. So have some respect and stop."
Tsunade rolled her eyes but looked at Sakura as the girl lowered her head. With an annoyed sigh, she folded her arms. "Haruno Sakura, you are Shinobi. You have more courage than this. So show some of it. It won't be bad, all right? As soon as Jiraiya gets here, everything will be all right." She told her. Sakura didn't agree.
"Sakura," Minato said as he gently took her by the arm. "May I speak to you for a moment?" He also looked to her parents and Tsunade as if asking for their permission as well. "I have something to give you. A gift, if you wish to call it."
Tsunade looked like she wanted to object by Suke nodded his permission to his younger friend. He didn't mind at all, even though the match maker did. Sakura sighed as she let Minato lead her out of the room into the next, but didn't say anything until they were alone. "Minato-senpai, do I really have to go through with this? Is there anyway I can just run away till the day is over?" She asked sorrowfully.
"Hmm." Minato hummed with amusement as he slid the door closed then reached into his long coat's pocket. "Sakura, you can't always run away from your problems. Remember what you always say when it gets tough. A true Shinobi never….." He paused to let her finish. Sakura sighed as she lowered her head. "A true Shinobi never gives up." She faintly smiled at him. "Okay. I'll try it. This guy that I'm matched up better not be mean or I'll pound." She said punching her hand into her other hand. Minato only laughed softly before pulling out a small package. "Don't worry. He's rather kind. Here. This is from someone you know."
Sakura frowned as she slowly took the small package. "What is it?" She looked up at Minato but he shook his head to let her know that he either didn't know or he wasn't going to say. So she pulled the paper off the object, only to freeze. It was a small orange book with a couple on the cover, holding each other while a mob stood around them.
It was the Icha Icha Elite book.
"This is……" Sakura whispered breathlessly.
Minato tilted his head as he looked at it. He didn't seem so surprised to see it but then again, he wasn't expecting it either. "An Icha Icha book, huh? So that's what Kakashi told me to give you." He said quietly for only her to hear.
Sakura's head jerked upward and she looked wide eyed up at him. She wasn't sure if she heard right but did he just say Kakashi gave this to him to give to her? "Kak-Kakashi?! You've seen Kakashi?! When?! Where?!" She asked. Minato just gently smiled at her as he folded his arms. He paused for a minute to think before shrugging. "Just the other day. He came back from a trip he was on. He seemed to have been doing some thinking to himself during his time away from here. He didn't say where he had gone. All he said was give you this." He turned his deep blue eyes back onto the book. "You seem to know about this book."
Slowly, Sakura nodded as she looked back at the book in her hands. "Yes. Kakashi told me about it when I asked. I was never to read these books because my mother never approved. But I was curious so I asked Kakashi about his books. This one, this book is the one he told me about. I was so fascinated by the story line that he told me he would let me borrow it." She said as tears came to her eyes. She pressed her forehead against the book's cover, trying hard not to cry.
Minato just smiled faintly before putting an arm around her shoulders. He knew it must have been a little hard for her to get on with this day. "Don't cry, Sakura. I can promise you that you're going to see Kakashi again, and probably pretty soon." He told her gently. Sakura didn't reply to that statement, as if she didn't hear. Instead she tried to pull back her tears so she wouldn't ruin her makeup.
Not more than an hour in half later, it seemed that the groom had arrived. Sakura was ushered out in the yard with her family while Tsunade, as she told the girl, was going to greet the groom. So apparently she was suppose to be there. There was the sound of someone outside the gates, and that made Sakura feel even more nervous. So her husband to be was there. This made her start trembling. She felt as if she was going to start falling apart any minute. Tsunade moved forward to open the gates to allow the groom in. She looked rather annoyed as she peered outside then allowed in whoever it was.
To Sakura's horror, it was an older man.
He was quite tall and strong looking, of course. But he was definitely older than Sakura. He had nearly pure white, long hair that fell to his lower back. He also had two red marks running down his cheeks. He might have had a handsome look about him, but he was still older than Sakura.
The man's eyes immediately looked right at the pink haired girl as he walked into the yard with Tsunade and he grinned while looking her over. That didn't really help no more than him practically skipping towards her. "Oooh! So this is our little bride! She's really hot! No doubt she'll make a very nice wife!" He said, his eyes looking her over.
"Jiraiya! Don't be such a perve, you idiot!" Tsunade snapped.
That was more than Sakura could handle. She couldn't help herself anymore. She couldn't just stand there anymore. With a choking sob, she whirled around and took off running for the gardens. She ignored her parents calling after her, and the alarmed yelp from Jiraiya when he got punched in the side by Tsunade. She just ran, not wanting to be around anyone right now.
"Sakura!" Her mother called and started to go after her but Minato placed a hand onto both, Suke and Rukia's shoulders to keep them from going after. He only shook his head with a faint smile. "Let her go. She needs to be alone."
Sakura went to the one place she had felt more comfortable about and that was her favorite cherry tree. She didn't even glance at the gardeners as they saw her race right past them. She didn't even stop the tears from flowing from her cheeks. She only ran to the tree and was up it before she even knew it, trying to hide within the pink and white blossoms. She couldn't believe this was happening. She was about to be matched up with an old man. Sure he had been handsome but he was a pervert and he was too old for her! This had not been what she wanted! She hadn't wanted to have her husband picked for her! She had wanted to pick him herself!
For nearly ten minutes of sitting on a branch, with her arms wrapped around her knees and her face buried with in them, she had been crying. She felt terrified of what was going to happen when she did return to her parents and the matchmaker. She was sure that Tsunade was going to scold her for trying to run. But as she sat there, she felt the tree shake a little, making her stiffen. It felt more like someone had just climbed the tree after her. Not wanting to look, she tightened her arms around her.
That is until someone placed their hand onto her shoulder.
Sakura stiffened for a moment before whimpering. She didn't recognize that hand so she was sure that it was her husband to be. She really did not want to talk to that Jiraiya right now! She was too scared of him!
"Hmm. Am I that terrifying to you, Sakura?" came the calm and amused voice she had been longing to hear for so long.
Sakura's head jerked up when she heard it and she looked wide eyed up at the familiar face of Hatake Kakashi. He was no doubt smiling at her by the look in his eye and he hadn't changed very much since she last saw him. His silver-white hair was the same, he still wore his mask and his forehead protector over his Sharingan eye. The only thing different, though not by much, his clothes were a little neater.
"Ka….Ka-Kakashi….." Sakura muttered as she looked up at him with shock. Kakashi just nodded as he crouched down next to her on the next branch. He seemed to be smiling still, though Sakura couldn't really tell. But he didn't really have time to actually say anything, because the pink haired woman gave a choking sob before throwing herself at him and wrapping her arms around his chest. He was taken back a little and they both would have fell out of the tree if he hadn't used his chakra to keep clinging onto the branch. "Kakashi!"
"Whoa! Careful, Sakura!" Kakashi said as he wrapped his arms around her to keep her from falling. But he stopped when he heard her sobbing into his chest. "Sakura, what's wrong? Why are you crying?"
Sakura shook her head against him as she tried very hard to stop crying. She was quiet for a long moment as Kakashi settled them both back onto the branch and he sat down next to her. After a minute, she pulled away from him and glared as she remembered of what had happened during the last few months. She remembered what Minato and everyone said about Kakashi disappearing and making them all worry. Angrily, she punched him in the shoulder. "You jerk! Do you know how worried you've had everyone by disappearing like that?! No one knew where you were! We were all so worried that something happened to you, Kakashi!" She told him sternly. "And stop laughing!"
In deed, Kakashi was chuckling while rubbing his arm where she punched him. It had hurt a little, but he was only glad that she didn't punch him her hardest. He knew he would have flown out of the tree if she had, and probably be knocked out. "I'm sorry, Sakura. I didn't mean to worry you." He told her with amusement.
Sakura felt her face flush as she folded her arms and she turned her nose away with a mild pout. She knew she was blushing a little but she hoped she wasn't bright red. "I'm wasn't too worried. I was just mad because you didn't come see me when everyone else did. Minato-senpai and Naruto would come see me almost every week! I've seen all of the other guys, even Ibiki! But you never came to visit once, you baka!" She paused when Kakashi rose an amused eyebrow at her. "Well it's true. You didn't come to visit. I guess I was a little worried. But that's because no one knew where you were."
"Well, I'm here now." Kakashi said with amusement.
Sakura gave him an annoyed look but then her face fell when she remembered what was going on that day. She sighed and leaned against the tree, wrapping her arms around her knees. She couldn't look at him in this state. Not to mention to even tell him why she was in a tree anyway. "Kakashi, this a bad time to come visiting me." She murmured.
The Shinobi frowned as he looked down at her. He could see that she was a little upset about something. She still had tearstains on her pretty cheeks. "Sakura," He asked quietly. "What's wrong? Are you hurt"
Slowly, Sakura shook her head before she buried her face into her knees. She really didn't want to tell Kakashi the reason why she was so upset but she trusted him with her life. And maybe if she told him her problem, he'd have something to say about it. Maybe he could use his influence to get her out of this mess.
"I've been matched up, Kakashi. I annoyed the matchmaker, Tsunade and she decided to be mean and match me up with an old man. I'm terrified. I don't want to marry an old man!" She said with a choking sob.
There was a long pause before Kakashi made a sound as if he was smiling too loud. He reached over and touched her arm to make her look up at him. "Oh come on, Sakura. I know I'm almost ten years older than you but I'm not that old." Sakura's body froze when she heard those words come out of his mouth. She literately froze and just listened to the silence. But after a minute, she lift her head and looked right at Kakashi with wide eyes. He was smiling at her, no doubt. But it was clear that she was surprised. He nodded as he guessed her thoughts. "Sakura, you're paired up with me. I'm the groom you're suppose to meet."
Sakura's mouth fell wide open as she stared at him with shock. She had not been expecting that one. "Wha--?!" She gasped before she lost her balance on the branch and toppled right out of the tree. She gave a choking squeak as she barely missed the branches as she went down. Her inner self was screaming at her for being an idiot and losing her balance in the tree.
But before she could hit the ground, she fell right into a pair of strong arms, with smoke and leaves curling around her. Sakura squeaked as she threw her arms around her rescuer's neck and looked up to see that it had been Kakashi who saved her. He was no doubt laughing at her and in a way, she couldn't blame him for laughing. She felt her face flush hot red from embarrassment but she couldn't even erase the shock from her mind. "Ka-Kakashi…..wh-what are you t-talking about?! I'm not paired up with you! I'm paired up with that old guy, Jiraiya! Tsunade even said……."
"Tsunade was teasing you, Sakura." Kakashi interrupted softly as he continued to hold her. He sounded very amused by her reaction. "As for that old man, Jiraiya. He's not your match. He's the men's matchmaker. He works with Tsunade, helping her find a match for the girls that she meets. They work together to figure out who would be paired up with who." He shook his head as he tilted his head. "Did you really think that you were going to be paired up with him?" The groan from Sakura told him yes and he laughed. "Okay, okay. I guess I'll have to give you some credit. Tsunade can be a real pain, if you ask me. She's been trying to match me up for years."
Sakura only stared up at him before realizing that she was still in his arms. She did feel rather cozy while in them but it was still embarrassing. "But….Kakashi…..I thought….um, I thought you weren't going to ever….." she was saying as she tried to wriggle out of his arms. Kakashi paused before putting her down and looking away. He knew what she was trying to say. He knew why she was a little concerned. "For the last few months, Sakura, I've been up at Rin's grave." He told her.
"…..Rin?" Sakura asked, blinking in surprise.
Kakashi slowly nodded as he folded his arms, his one eye tilted away from her. He was obviously doing some deep thinking about this. He must have been. "My former love. The one I was matched up with years ago. She's buried right next to my best friend, Uchiha Obito, the one who loved her the most." He looked at back the pretty pink haired girl. "It was my idea to bury them together. I've been…..been trying to decide what to do with myself, Sakura. Ever since the end of the war. I had to go see them, ask them what they thought I should do."
"But….what was you trying to decide?" Sakura asked curiously, her hands folding behind her back.
Kakashi paused for a long moment before looking right into her emerald green eyes with such a soft look. "I was trying to decide if it was all right if I fell in love with you, Sakura." He smiled softly when Sakura's eyes widened with surprise and he nodded. "Ever since at the river, Sakura, you've been in my thoughts. I couldn't stop thinking about you. I tried to forget about you but it wasn't easy. Every time I saw a flash of pink I would look for you. That's why I handed you over to Gai to train. Because I knew I was falling for you. Thing was, I thought you were a guy. But when I found out that you were a woman," He paused shaking his head. "I'm in love with you, Sakura. I'll admit that now. I was only asking Rin if it was okay to move on."
Another long pause before Sakura's face softened and she tilted her head, looking so cutely innocent. "And….what did…..Rin say to you?" She asked, softly.
Kakashi looked right at her, but his eye grew very soft as he saw how soft she was looking back at him. He slowly placed his hands onto her shoulders, rubbing them a little. "She didn't really say anything. But I knew she wants me to move on. She was never the kind that would want me to remain clinging to a painful memory." He then moved a step closer. "Sakura, I can't offer you too much. My clan is not very big. I'm actually the last of them. My parents are gone and I have no other family. I'm only wealthy with what I've earned from being a Shinobi. But I will ask you this, if you will give me a chance, I will do everything in my power to please you. The only thing I can offer you is my love." He told her softly.
There was a short pause as Sakura just stared up at him with such a soft look in her eyes. She had been waiting for someone, him to say those words for almost all her life. She felt her heart fluttering at each of his words and just thump harder at the word love. The one thing she wanted the most.
Slowly, she reached up and grabbed the end of his mask, lightly pulling it down. She paused to see if he minded. But all he did was nod once and reach up with one of his hands, covering her hand and pulling it down so that he was maskless. And as Sakura thought, Kakashi was scar-less, clean shaven and very handsome. She smiled as she touched his lips, which parted a little. "Kakashi, the only thing I've ever wanted is love. And I think that I fell in love with you a long time ago. Ever since that night at the river too." She whispered before rolling her eyes when she saw his eye flicker down to her lips. "And if you want to kiss me, then just do it already. Stop leaving me hanging."
Kakashi laughed as he reached up and took her hand away from his mouth but pressed it against his cheek. "So impatient and stubborn, you are, Sakura. I think you're going to be a very feisty housewife." He grinned down at her as his head dipped closer. "I like it though." He said before reaching down and kissing her. Inside Sakura's head, it felt like the whole world exploded in a heavenly bliss. She couldn't stop herself from wrapping her arms around his neck and pulling him closer.
This was only the start of a whole new relationship, and a whole new adventure. But at least, Sakura and Kakashi was going to face it together.
A/N: Well, that's it for Heart of Honor. There is a possible sequel coming up, depending if anyone wants it. But in the mean time, please let me know what you thought about it. And I really hoped you enjoyed this Naruto Fanfiction. Because I sure enjoyed writing it.