Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto, because if I did, this story would be making an appearance very soon.
Sakura moved through the dusty corridors of the Uchiha Compound, gazing in wonder at Sasuke's childhood home. This place had been deserted nine years ago at the time of the Uchiha Clan Massacre; the only things remaining were the ghosts of memories not hers. Still she had come here, in hope that she might find something, anything, amid the faded memories to help her understand Sasuke. Not why he had left her so cruelly on that bench three and a half years ago, she had long since despaired of ever having an answer to, and merely acknowledged it as one of the mysteries Sasuke kept in abundance about himself in an effort to prevent anyone from becoming close to him, but just to begin to understand him. Sakura knew what happened to his clan, and on the night that he left her she'd said that she understood what he meant by loneliness. But, as she lay in bed late at night, any hope of sleep driven from her by her bittersweet memories of Sasuke and the time they had shared together as Team Seven, she'd come to realize something. Sakura had realized that she had never, and could never truly understand what Sasuke had meant by loneliness. Even when she lost him, it had been only a dull ache compared to the blinding pain he had experienced at the tender age of seven, when his family was torn from him by the merciless hands of death. So Sakura had come here, to understand the burden thrust upon Sasuke when he became the avenger of the Uchiha clan.
Her hand slid over the surface of a table, coming away with a thick layer of dust coating it. She gazed around the room she found herself in, as the ghosts of incidents left undiminished by years washed over her, giving her new information. Pictures flashed before her eyes as her ears heard the voices of days long past. After the sudden flare of memories, Sakura was left breathing deeply, her hands breaking out in a cold sweat. This had been the kitchen; she had known that as soon as she had entered, but she had not known that this was the last place Sasuke had seen his parents alive. Nor had she known that his last conversation with his father had been of Itachi, and the disturbing changes in his brother's behavior. Would every room be like this, yielding its secrets so easily to her, yet at the same time filling her with fear and dread? She wasn't sure if she could bear that. Yet, even as the memories left her filled with fear and pain, she knew that she would keep going, she would see all she could, because each memory was a scrap of knowledge to add to her meager pile of information about Sasuke. She had to go on, if only to understand what Sasuke must feel each and every time he thought of this place.
Filled with that resolve, to see it all no matter the cost to herself, Sakura stepped outside onto the roofed pathway between the different parts of the mansion. Despite her resolve though, it would not take a keen eye to notice that her steps were slower, as though she were afraid to awaken any more ghosts of the past.
Here new memories came to her. Sasuke and Itachi sat together, discussing their father's reaction to Sasuke's first report card from the academy. Even this early, a full two and a half years before the fateful day of the massacre, Sasuke already harbored small feelings of annoyance toward Itachi, though it was nothing compared to the blinding rage that filled him now at the mere mention of his brother's name. Then the scene before her changed, to when she did not know. She saw as the younger Sasuke watched his brother and father casually walking toward each other, a firm feeling of fear and dread blooming in the heart of the youngest Uchiha. Though they passed each other without incident, it did nothing to alleviate Sasuke's fears for his sibling's relationship with their father. However such doubts were soon thrust to the back of his mind as his father offered to teach him a new jutsu. With a new spring in his step, Sasuke accompanied his father to the lake.
Sakura panted as though she had run a great distance, eyes wide. Though these particular memories had held little to feed the flame of fear within her, it was still very unnerving to watch these unfamiliar memories play themselves out in front of her like a film. (A/N: Or like a certain TV series that we are all obsessed with and think is the greatest thing ever. I couldn't resist saying that.)
She timidly slid open the door to the room in front of her, trying to mentally prepare herself for what she would see.
She saw nothing. No tormented visions, no ghosts of the past, nothing. It was just a room. If anything, being here made her feel... happy. What was going on?
Sakura walked around the room, feeling an overwhelming sense of comfort from being here. Despite her knowledge that murder had been committed in this house, despite knowing that a young boy had been tortured here, despite everything that she had seen today, she felt that here she was safe. The oddest thing was, she hadn't felt that she was truly safe anywhere since Sasuke had left. That was a feeling purely reserved for when she was with him. Could that mean…?
Sakura walked over to a chest in the corner and carefully opened it, feeling with pleasure the smoothness of the wood. When she opened it, the chest was filled with small toys, exactly the kind that a child of about seven years of age would have… Sakura smiled tenderly down at them. So this was Sasuke's old room, then.
She smiled sadly to herself at the thought. There had been a time when the idea of being in Sasuke's bedroom would have sent her into a fit squealing and fainting. But time and loss had changed her, so that now she felt only small comfort at being among the childhood possessions of her beloved.
Sakura sat down on the bed, tracing small patterns in the folds of the blanket as silent tears fell down her face. They felt different than others she had shed, though. While those had been filled with anguish at Sasuke's loss, these were softer, like those cried at the memory of a past loss. It seemed that she was finally beginning to move on. She could never forget Sasuke, not after what he had meant to her, but she could stop living in the past and focus on the here and now, and on returning him to Konoha.
A small smile appeared on her face at the thought of being able to move on. Many times she had been told to do so, by her parents and Tsunade, but she had never been able to. Maybe the hole Sasuke left in my heart is finally starting to heal, Sakura mused as she continued to trace the folds of the blanket. She suddenly noticed something, and drew her hand back in shock.
Timidly, Sakura reached down to feel the spot where her fingers had been. Surely enough, it was still there. Under the sheets was a flat, rectangular object. Excitedly, Sakura pushed the blankets back until the spot was bare, exposing a folded up piece of paper. She eagerly picked it up. The handwriting on the front was Sasuke's!
Her heart singing with pleasure at the thought of finding some final writing of Sasuke's, some last words from her departed love, Sakura unfolded the paper. What was written on it almost made her heart stop. It was a letter addressed to her.
If you are reading this, it means that you are in my old home, the Uchiha Clan Mansion. It also means that I have left the village.
Sakura choked back tears at this last sentence. So Sasuke had written this for her, knowing that he would leave?
First of all, there is something I would like to say about that. And that is that I am sorry, for the pain you and Naruto are probably going through. Don't you understand, I had to do it! Orochimaru wouldn't have let me stay; he or Itachi would have hurt you two in an attempt to get to me! Leaving now was the only way to keep you safe. I am sorry if I had to hurt you to do so.
Oh Sasuke, you're so naïve, Sakura thought, shaking her head sadly. Don't you know that Naruto and I would rather have been killed than to have lost you? You mean that much to us Sasuke; no physical pain can compare to what I've had to go through these past three and a half years. Despite this, Sakura's heart sang with joy at the thought that Sasuke had not wanted to leave them. Her worst fear all this time had been that he was serious, and she and Naruto and team seven really meant absolutely nothing to him. It helped more than he would ever know to be told that that was not the case.
The next thing I would like to give you, Sakura, is reassurance. You may think that Orochimaru will kill me and take my body. I swear, I will never let that happen. I'll kill him if he tries. Revenge is for me and me alone, not that Snake using my body. I swear, Sakura, I won't die.
There is one final thing I would like to tell you, before I have to say goodbye. And that is that I am not leaving forever. I will come back one day, after I have killed Itachi and probably Orochimaru as well. Then you and Naruto will no longer be in danger because of me.
I have one request of you. Wait for me. There is one very important thing that I want to tell you, that I was never able to say before I left. I did not have the right to say it before, because to do so would only put you in danger. I could not bear the thought of you being hurt because of me. But, if I ever return, it will mean that there is no longer a danger in you knowing this, so I can say it now, and hope that you will take it to heart and never forget me.
Haruno Sakura, I love you.
A/N: This story was written at the request of sadbird, who asked me to write a SasukeXSakura story where they get together and have a happy ending. There will be a second chapter where Sasuke comes back. Tell me what you thought of my first attempt at a happy SasukeXSakura ending!