Title: Someone To Save You
Pairing: SasuSaku, hints of NejiTen, NejiSaku-friendship (even though that does not work at all)
Summary: "Thank you, Sasuke-kun," she says, "for failing."
Disclaimer: Naruto © Masashi Kishimoto.
Notes: Right, so this is a response to -bell.esque's Valentines Day gift-exchange challenge. I got Miko-chan, and I kind of freaked out, because it's Miko-chan. Anyway, the rules were that it had to include the pairing and time requested, and love-letters somewhere in there. I think I failed on all aspects because this doesn't capture the mood of Valentine's Day at all. Plus, there are plot-holes everywhere, like whoa.
This was originally supposed to be about 1,000-2,000 words. Then my brain died, and spewed out more crap, fusing it with a story I wanted to write anyway, so I killed two birds with one stone. Not literally, though.
Many, many thanks to the ever-amazing Epiff Annie for being my beta-reader on this. This would be in shambles without her. That girl is a god-send, I swear.
So, Happy Valentine's Day, and enjoy! Reviews are adored, as per usual.
"You're going to be the most beautiful bride anyone's ever seen. Even with your massive forehead."
Sakura smiles. "Thanks, Ino-pig."
Ino smoothes out an imaginary crease in her bridesmaid dress. "That is, until I get married. Then everyone will forget about you like that," she teases, snapping her fingers to emphasise.
Sakura tips her head back and laughs, a few strands of hair falling out from her bun.
"Oi, Forehead! Careful," Ino chides, tucking the pink strands behind Sakura's ears.
Once Sakura's giggles have ceased, she looks up at Ino. She's grown up so much. Sakura can barely recognise her from the little girl who used to defend her from the school bullies. It's her wedding day, yet she feels as if she's about to lose everyone she holds dear.
"Thank you, Ino," Sakura says, again. "I mean it."
Ino shakes her head and hugs her best friend.
"Any time, Forehead," she says. Then, in a whisper, "Sasuke's sitting out there, with Naruto and Shika-kun and the others."
Sakura nods mutely.
"You gonna be okay?" Ino asks, looking concerned.
Sakura takes a deep breath in, and exhales. She fusses around with her veil and puts on her brightest—
"Yeah, I am," she reassures the blonde.
Ino smiles back wearily, not believing her friend in the slightest. She hears the organ start to play and suddenly becomes aware of her surroundings.
"Come on, Sakura," Ino says, grabbing the bride-to-be's hand and dragging her out of the dressing room. "They're waiting for you."
Haruno Sakura has never been particularly well-known for her good looks. If asked, most people will comment that she was pretty, but not beautiful. Not drop-dead-gorgeous or anything, no — those are the words mainly used to describe Yamanaka Ino. Sakura has a natural kind of prettiness — not the kind that inspires artists or stops people in the street, but it is one that people would have to take a second look at to recognise.
But today, on her wedding day, every single one of the guests present agrees that Haruno Sakura looks absolutely stunning.
Naruto fiddles with his tie uncomfortably, trying to loosen it without looking ruffled. It's not working.
Beside him, Sasuke stands, leaning back against a pillar, arms folded and scowl in place.
Shino, Kiba, and Hinata approach them, Kiba and Hinata carrying extra drinks for Naruto and Sasuke.
"Thanks," Naruto says, gratefully accepting the glass that Hinata nervously offers him, and downing the alcohol in one shot. "I feel like I'm suffocating in this thing."
Kiba lets out a low whistle. "They really pulled out all the stocks for this reception, huh?" he says, shoving his hands into the pockets of his slacks.
"Yeah," Naruto says, looking at his surroundings appreciatively. "The Hyuuga-tachii really know how to throw a party."
He glances at Sasuke, only to find that the raven-haired boy isn't paying attention to any of them. Naruto follows his gaze and sees Sakura walking up to them. She's changed out of her wedding dress into an emerald green evening gown, and Naruto thinks he's never seen anything lovelier.
"Hi!" she says brightly, her cheeks flushed and her smile dazzling. "You're enjoying yourself, I hope?"
"There's plenty of alcohol," Kiba states, raising his glass. "That's all I need."
Sakura laughs, but doesn't say anything in reply.
An awkward silence settles onto the group, neither of them saying anything.
"I—Congratulations, Sakura-chan," Naruto says finally, clasping a hand on her shoulders. "You look beautiful tonight."
Sakura smiles hesitantly, before reaching out and pulling Naruto into a hug.
Sakura lets go of Naruto, and turns to see who is calling her.
Neji walks over to where his bride is and says bluntly, "Come, Sakura. There's someone I want to introduce you to."
"Okay," Sakura says—
obediently, just like a good little slave
—and moves to stand beside her husband.
"I'll come and find you guys later on, okay?" she says, throwing another dazzling smile over her shoulder.
When nobody replies immediately, Neji puts his hand on the small of Sakura's back and guides through the throng of people waiting in line to offer their congratulations.
Only Hinata sees past Sakura's false smiles and realises that she has averted her gaze from Sasuke throughout the entire conversation.
And Naruto is the only one that can sense the murderous aura that suddenly formed around his friend when Neji approached, and slowly sidles away from him.
Wow is the only word that enters Sakura's mind, as she is shown around her new home for the first time. Neji's relatives have told her that one of her duties as the wife of a Hyuuga is to be available at all times.
'That means no leaving the house,' an old aunt had warned. 'You may have visitors, but you can't abandon your post unless there is a function you have to go to.'
At least, Sakura thinks, they have imprisoned her in a very nice cage.
The house is absolutely stunning. It is huge and modern, yet retains a dignified air of antiquity. How that's possible, Sakura knows not. But she knows that she will be very, very comfortable here. Not happy, of course — she gave up all chances of happiness when she agreed to marry Hyuuga Neji — but comfortable nevertheless, which, she reasons, is the next best thing.
"So, any questions?" Neji asks, once the tour is completed.
Sakura shakes her head. "No, I'm fine, thanks."
"Okay," Neji says. "I've got to finish up a contract for tomorrow, so I'm going to my office now. If you need anything, you know where to find me."
Sakura doesn't move for a few moments, watching Neji's retreating figure until he dissapears around a corner. She continues staring at nothing for a few more minutes, before turning around and wandering through her house.
She enters the master bedroom, and sits on her — their — bed. It's enormous, like the rest of the house, and the room itself could be regarded as a very big apartment all on its own. There's even a kitchenette in front of her.
Sakura stands up and walks towards the small kitchen, but pauses when she notices two doors that lead out onto a balcony to her left. She diverts, and instead walks over to open the doors and step outside.
There aren't any clouds in the sky tonight, Sakura notices, as a cool breeze ruffles her pink tresses.
She feels her phone vibrating in her purse, and hurriedly retrieves it, not bothering to check who is calling before answering it.
"Hello?" she says anxiously, her breath caught in her throat.
Sakura didn't know who she expected to call, so is surprised—
and a little disappointed, though she makes sure not to show it
—that it is her mother.
"Hi, Okaa-chan. Did you enjoy yourself tonight?"
"Very much so," her mother replies on the other end of the phone. "But that isn't why I called. How are you, Sakura?"
"I'm okay. The house is amazing. You and Otou-chan have to come and see it sometime."
"We will, dear," her mother says. "Where's Neji?"
"He's in his office doing some work."
Sakura's mother sighs.
"I'm sorry, Sakura," she says, her voice containing more than a tinge of regret.
"It's okay, Okaa-chan. Really, it is," Sakura quickly reassures her mother, trying to sound normal.
"To be tied down at your age…" Her mother trails off. "You're only twenty, Sakura. You're supposed to have your whole life ahead of you."
"It doesn't matter," Sakura maintains, blinking away the tears that are threatening to form in her eyes. "I—I have to go now, Okaa-chan. Neji's calling me."
"Okay. Why don't you come and sleep over at ours tomorrow?"
"I love you, Sakura. And I'm sorry that we had to put you through this."
"I love you too, Okaa-chan. Don't worry about it. Really."
Sakura quickly ends the call, and purses her lips, staring at the phone in her hand.
She sighs, leaning against the balcony's marble banister and wipes away a lone tear that has slipped down her cheek.
A raindrop falls onto Sakura's left shoulder, and she looks up at the sky. It's about to rain — heavily, if the clouds are anything to go by — so Sakura quickly hurries inside and prepares to get ready for bed.
Once she has changed out of her gown, Sakura lies down in a bed that seems miles too big and is far too cold, and silently cries herself to sleep, dreaming of a life she might have lived, and of a name she might have had.
It starts to rain outside.
It is raining outside.
Sakura smiles softly, laying back on her — her — bed and closes her eyes.
The phone rings.
Sakura's eyes snap open, and she reaches to her bedside table to grab the phone.
When she receives no reply, Sakura opens her mouth to speak, but no words come out. Instead, she sits up and brings her knees close to her chest.
A comfortable silence settles between them for a few moments that seem like an eternity Sakura doesn't want to end. Finally, just as Sakura is about to break down, someone says her name.
She doesn't reply.
"Sakura," he repeats.
Sakura rubs her eyes. "Yeah?"
"Please," he says, a tinge of anger, sadness and—
dare she believe it?
—desperation in his voice. "Just go and divorce that Hyuuga bastard as quickly as you can and come back to me."
Sakura lets out a sob and buries her head in her knees, wiping away her tears on the fabric of her jeans.
"I-I can't, Sasuke-kun," she chokes out. "You know that."
"Sakura, stop crying. Now."
Sakura looks up, smiling. "Okay, Sasuke-kun."
"Is Hyuuga treating you well? If not, I'll kill him."
"Of course he is, Sasuke-kun," Sakura says, laughing a little. "Besides," she adds fondly. "You'd never make it past all the security. They'd shoot you as soon as you enter the premises."
"Tch. What do you think Naruto is for? He'll be the decoy. I'll kill Hyuuga while the guards are busy shooting bullets through the dumbass."
"Sasuke-kun!" Sakura reprimands, doubling over in laughter. Once her giggles have ceased, she scolds, "Don't be so mean."
Sakura's smile falters.
"Sasuke-kun," she says tentatively, "I—I'm not quite sure whether we should be doing this."
"Doing what? It's not like we're committing adultery."
"But it feels wrong, Sasuke-kun. I don't think you can call me after this. I mean — what if someone overhears us? If Neji's relatives find out, I don't even want to imagine what might happen."
Sasuke doesn't reply.
"Sakura, I love you," Sasuke blurts out.
There is silence. Sasuke's never told Sakura he loved her before in their entire relationship, and she hates—
—him for saying it now.
And for the first time in her life, Sakura doesn't know what to say.
So she doesn't say anything. Instead, she adjusts the phone between her cheek and her shoulder to a more comfortable position, and tries to hear the sound of his heart beating from the other end of the phone.
She thinks she can hear it. She's certain he can hear hers.
"I love you too, Sasuke-kun," she finally settles on, her vision blurring for the umpteenth time since their conversation started.
"I don't care that you're married," he says stubbornly, cocky arrogance ever-present.
Sakura smiles through her tears. "Of course you don't. You're Sasuke-kun. You wouldn't," she says affectionately.
"There has to be a way you can get out of this."
"No, there isn't, Sasuke-kun."
"Yes there is," he insists. Stubborn asshole, Sakura thinks fondly.
"If you say so."
"I know so," Sasuke says confidently. "And you'll find that way."
Sakura hears Sasuke sigh, and a few more tears slip down her cheeks.
"I love you, Sasuke-kun," she says again.
Sakura grabs a pillow from behind her and buries her face in it.
"Yes?" Her voice is muffled by the pillow.
"I'll wait for you."
The doorbell rings for the third time in a row.
Sasuke scowls. Why aren't any of the servants answering the door? He'll have to report this to his father if it keeps up, he thinks, as he descends the stairs and strides over to the front doors.
He opens them and finds that he doesn't recognise the person in front of him.
"Hi," his visitor says breathlessly. It's a girl, about Sasuke's age, with two buns in her hair, but he still doesn't know who she is. "Um, it's Sasuke, right?"
Sasuke gives one nod of his head before saying, "And you are…?"
She doesn't reply immediately, and he looks at her expectantly.
"Oh!" she says, surprised. "I'm Tenten. One of Neji's friends."
In the span of one second, Sasuke's brain processes this information and comes to the conclusion that Hyuuga Neji is a sadistic bastard. First, he steals away Sasuke's girlfriend. Then he oppresses her and turns her into one of his obedient servants. And if that wasn't enough, the man sends a crazy person over to annoy him and drive him insane. It must be some elaborate attempt to destroy the Uchiha, Sasuke reasons.
"Hyuuga doesn't live here," Sasuke replies coolly as soon as his brain has banished mental images of him strangling Hyuuga Neji. He makes to close the door, but the girl quickly slips her foot in the crack and continues smiling.
Sasuke merely stares at her, wondering what kind of upbringing she must have had and if her parents had ever taught her about restraining orders.
"I know," Tenten says, pushing the door open wider. "But I came here to talk to you. Can I come in for a second, please?"
Sasuke blinks, dumbstruck. There is no way a forward psycho like her could be friends with an uptight priss like Neji.
Without waiting for an answer, Tenten slips off her shoes and walks into Sasuke's foyer, whistling and looking around her.
"You have a nice house. It's not as big as Neji's or anything, but it's nice," she comments bluntly, taking a piece of bubblegum out of her pocket and popping it into her mouth. "Want one?" she asks, taking out another piece of gum and offering it to Sasuke.
Sasuke twitches and closes the door behind him.
"No thank you," he all but growls.
"Suit yourself," she says. She turns away from him to inspect the marble stairs.
Sasuke's scowl widens, if possible, and he clears his throat, his patience having worn out.
"Not to sound rude or anything, but what the hell are you doing here?"
Tenten turns around and looks surprised, as if she had just noticed Sasuke was standing there. "Oh… that…" She trails off, suddenly donning a serious expression.
Sasuke folds his arms over his chest, waiting for what she has to say next.
"Um, well," she begins hesitantly. "Have you spoken to Sakura lately?"
"Get out," he says, once he has recovered.
"Eh? Sasuke, I—"
"That's enough," Sasuke says sharply, opening the door behind him. "I want you out of my house. Now."
Tenten doesn't give up that easily. "I don't think you understand, Sasuke—"
"No, I don't think you understand," Sasuke sneers. "What the hell is this? Did Hyuuga send you here to see whether I've been having an affair with his wife—?"
"He didn't!" Tenten protests.
"Then why are you here?"
"I—" she stutters, not knowing what to say, "I don't know."
She lets go of a breath she doesn't even know she's been holding.
"But," she continues. "Don't you think that it's so wrong? I mean — I know that you used to date Sakura. Don't you think that it's so unfair? This whole thing."
"Life isn't fair. Deal with it."
"Does Neji love Sakura?"
Sasuke doesn't reply.
"How the hell am I supposed to know?" he replies irritably, losing his temper. "And why do you care so much anyway?"
It is when Sasuke notices Tenten fidgeting with the hem of her sweater and averting her gaze from his that he realises the girl in front of him didn't come over at Neji's request, nor did she come over to mock him. Instead, she came, genuinely curious, to be reassured of a matter beyond her control.
Poor girl. With her upbringing, she never stood a chance.
Sasuke sighs. "No, he doesn't," he says, his tone softening considerably.
"Really?" Tenten perks up.
"I wouldn't know for certain. But Naruto informed me that he's been told Neji spends most his time in his office and rarely speaks to Sakura when not in public."
Tenten is rendered momentarily speechless, and in that moment, Sasuke can practically see the hope bubbling up in the girl's eyes. She looks away, as if trying to process the information she's been told and a smile forms on her face.
"Is that so?" she mumbles to herself, tugging at a lock of her hair.
Sasuke merely observes her actions. He almost feels sorry for giving her false hope.
"Thanks, Sasuke," Tenten says, smiling at him. "I'll be going now. I apologise for any inconvenience caused."
With that, she walks out of the house onto the porch, and puts on her shoes.
Tenten stands up once she's done, smiles at Sasuke one last time, and begins to walk off.
After a few steps however, she pauses and turns around to face Sasuke once again.
"I really am sorry about what's happened, Sasuke," she says sincerely. "I've only spoken to Sakura a few times, but she's a really nice girl."
"She loves you very much, you know."
I don't know what I'm about to say. I don't even know why I'm writing this.
I love you. Even though I never say it. You know how I dislike expressing things like that. But it seems easier to set things in pen. So that's what I'm going to do.
This girl — Tenten — came round to my parents' house today. I got annoyed with her. She's really irritating. Almost as annoying as you.
Naruto's been more stupid than usual. I think it's because you're not around to lecture him, so he's been taking advantage of that and drowning himself in ramen.
Go punch Hyuuga for me.
Thank you for your letter. Really. It means so much to me.
I love you too, Sasuke-kun, and I miss you—
(and here, Sasuke can see where her elegant handwriting has become almost a scrawl, and where the ink has been smudged)
—and everyone else so much right now. How are they?
Tenten's a really nice girl. She's just a bit… eccentric. Different. But it's a pleasant change to the rest of Neji's family. They're all quite serious.
Nothing much has been going on here. I've finally gotten somewhat used to the house. I still go back to my parents' place once a week to see them. Ha, one day, I was on my way back from there, and one of Neji's cousins was at the house. He's only six, bless his heart, and when I got back, I found purple crayon scribbled all over the walls. I thought it was funny, but when Neji saw it, he just completely flipped out. You should have seen it.
Give Naruto my love. And a proper meal. Seriously, Sasuke-kun, he's going to die of malnutrition one day, and then you won't have anyone to insult you.
All my love,
I told you Sakura, stop crying. I could barely read your last letter. Tch, annoying.
Everyone's okay. They want to see you, so Naruto's been devising a plan to kidnap you with Aburame, Inuzuka, Nara, and Akimichi. He plans to recruit Hyuuga's cousin to make getting into the premises easier.
(this makes Sakura laugh)
Tenten is crazy. I'm surprised no one has checked her into a mental facility yet.
Give that little kid my business card. I could use his services.
I went round to Naruto's the other day. We ate out. But he wouldn't have anything but ramen. It just wasn't worth losing a few billion brain cells to convince him otherwise.
Sorry about my last letter. I couldn't help it. I think I'm better now, though.
Naruto would have a hard time getting Hinata to help him. For one thing, she can't stay conscious for more than five minutes when they're in the same room. I think it's really cute, but Naruto just doesn't get it. You'll have to drop hints to him sometime. Lord knows I've tried, but he's just so dense sometimes.
No, Tenten is not crazy. Like I said, she's different. You're just too snobbish to accept that, Sasuke-kun, and don't roll your eyes at me (yes, I know you are)!
(Sasuke smirks, and rolls his eyes—
as if she can actually see him
Sasuke-kun, you don't even have a business card. Go get one and I'll give it to Neji's cousin. But he might just draw on it. Or eat it. Children like to eat things.
Invite Naruto over to eat a proper meal! I will not have him on a diet of nothing but ramen for another day, do you hear me? It's not healthy and it's not normal.
Do it! I'll know if you haven't!
Tch. I am not discussing that dumbass's love life. That would be a waste of time I'll never get back. And his stupidity is ever-present. It cannot be avoided. I don't know why I'm even around him half the time.
Sakura. The girl waltzed into my house without my permission. That is considered as breaking and entering to most people. Except she didn't break anything. Apart from my brain, that is.
(Sakura bursts into a fit of giggles, and tries to silence herself — it's late, and the rest of the people in the house are sleeping –– but to no avail)
I do have a business card, Sakura. And it was sarcasm. Get with the program, or get a brain.
And I invited Naruto over yesterday. He asked what the cooks were going to prepare, and when I didn't say ramen, he wasn't interested. I told you already: he's a lost cause. Don't bother, Sakura, it's just going to give you high-blood pressure by the time you're twenty-five.
You know you loooove Naruto deep down inside. And you can't stand to be without him. And you NEED him. Oh Sasuke-kun, you are WHIPPED.
(this elects a sigh and five minutes worth of involuntary twitching from the Uchiha, as he resists the temptation to burn the letter in front of him)
Um, well Tenten is impulsive like that. And like I said, you are way too snobbish to tolerate that. It's quite endearing really. She came around the house yesterday, so I told her about what you said. She says she's going to steal all of your underwear now.
You do? How come I've never seen any of them? I want to see one!
I phoned Naruto this morning and told him not to eat any more ramen because it was unhealthy. I think he was surprised that I knew he had just forsaken every single nutritional food on the planet. He probably thinks I'm stalking him or something.
All my love,
For the millionth time, I am not gay. Please don't make me hire a hitman to come and shoot you. It would make Hyuuga a widower.
I've just placed a padlock on my underwear drawer. Thank you for the heads-up; I'll just ignore the fact that you snitched on me. Tch, annoying.
You've never asked to see any of my business cards, Sakura. And I don't go about flashing them around like Naruto. He did that in a nightclub recently; he ran around giving them to random girls who thought he was a pizza delivery-boy.
Sakura looks up from her desk. "Yeah?"
Neji leans against the doorframe. "Plans have changed; the dinner's been cancelled."
"I see," she says, pursing her lips. "Well, I won't bother changing then."
"What are you doing anyway?" Neji asks curiously, looking pointedly at the pen and paper on the table.
Sakura freezes. Neji can't see the contents of the letter from that distance, and Sakura isn't technically doing anything wrong. But still, as Sakura looks at her husband from where she sits, she feels so… guilty.
"Oh this?" Sakura glances at her unfinished letter nervously. "It's just a product of boredom. Ino and I have been thinking that we should write letters to each other rather than e-mails," she says, trying to appear nonchalant. "It's stupid really, but it's fun."
"I see," Neji says, not taking his eyes off his wife, as if trying to detect a lie.
"Yeah," Sakura grins weakly.
It seems as if Neji senses Sakura's uneasiness, as he tells her, "Sakura, if anything's bothering you, you can tell me. I'll gladly help you out with any problems."
Sakura blinks. "Thanks, Neji," she replies. "But I'm fine. Really."
Neji nods once, and starts walking towards Sakura.
Sakura momentarily panics — what if he sees the letter? — and quickly covers it by placing her elbow across it casually.
"Sakura," Neji says once he's in front of her. "I'm sorry."
Sakura blinks again. She thinks she's had just about enough of everyone apologising to her. If they were going to regret their actions, Sakura believes they shouldn't have done them in the first place.
"I know you didn't want this and neither did I," he continues. He kneels down on one knee so he is eye-level with her. "But there's nothing we can do about that."
Sakura does nothing but look at her husband. For the past few months, she has been trapped inside her own home, feeling so alone, so empty, living solely for the letters of her ex-lover. But, as she sees the man before her, she finally sees someone who might actually understand her. He's in the same position, she realises, as she recalls the numerous visits Tenten had paid to the Hyuuga household. She didn't come to get to know her friend's new wife. Sakura sees the looks Tenten gives Neji when she thinks nobody is looking. She doesn't know whether Neji loves Tenten, but she knows that he feels a strong sense of camaraderie towards the other girl. He could have been happy with her had she been born of a different social class.
"You may not feel the same way," Neji says cautiously, "but I want to try to make this marriage work. We didn't want this, but Fate dealt us these cards. Let us make the most of them."
Sakura doesn't reply for a while, but when she does, she has a small smile on her face.
"You know," she says, "I've never imagined I would ever be in an arranged marriage. Well, I had, but I'd always imagined myself hating my husband."
"Then I suppose I'll have to give you a reason not to hate me," Neji replies, the corners of his mouth lifting.
"You just have," Sakura says softly.
Neji stands up.
"I can't give you a happily-ever-after, Sakura. I can't give you the love you sacrificed, or even a new love to replace that. But I can offer you companionship, and I hope that is enough."
He holds out his hand to her, and Sakura suddenly sees Neji in a new light. She looks at the hand offered to her, and thinks that if she couldn't marry the love of her life, she is at least lucky to be married to a kind, respectable man like Hyuuga Neji.
"You'll make your family proud one day, Neji," Sakura says, as she takes his hand and he pulls her up.
"Our family, Sakura."
Sasuke receives his final letter from Sakura a week after he sent off his last one. The handwriting is almost illegible and there is barely a single word in which the ink has not been smudged.
My mind is so full of jumbled words right now, and they're all fighting their way onto this piece of paper, that I don't know which to put down first.
Do you remember the time that we went on a road trip to Suna with the others to visit Gaara, Temari and Kankuro? And how everyone suddenly ditched us, and we got lost for five hours? We just wandered around the whole town not knowing what to do next. Well, I just wandered around not knowing what to do next. You just acted as if you knew exactly what you were doing. I bet you didn't, though.
What I mean to say, Sasuke-kun, is that I enjoyed that time, like I've enjoyed every single moment I've shared with you. There's something about you that makes me happy just by being near you.
And that's what makes this harder.
Sasuke-kun, we can't do this anymore.
Neji and I have talked about this, and we want to give our marriage a shot. I don't feel anything towards him, Sasuke-kun. I don't think I ever could, having known you. My marriage is never going to be perfect, but I want to give it a chance. Which is why I can't keep writing to you.
I know, I know. We aren't doing anything wrong, and this is merely an exchange of words between friends who share a certain history.
But Sasuke-kun. I've never thought of these letters that way. And, now more than ever, I can't see them as anything but love letters. And though, with the exception of our first letters, they are totally innocent, I would never want Neji to find them.
These letters — I love them, Sasuke-kun, as I love you, and they've been my only reason for waking up each day for the past two months. But now, things are different. We have to move on, and it's not fair for us to keep living in the past like this. Not for you, not for me, and definitely not for Neji.
It's funny. When we were little, Ino and I always used to talk about what kind of wedding we would have, and what our husbands would be like. Ino's fantasies would constantly change, depending on her mood and who the hottest celebrity of the month was. But throughout all our childhood, mine were always the same. I'd dream of a handsome prince riding up on his strong steed, getting down on one knee and making the most beautiful proposal, saying the sweetest words anyone would have ever heard.
But before that, I'd dream that he'd save me.
From what, I never knew. I always thought that it was just romantic, you know? The prince saves the princess from a life-threatening danger, then rides off into the sunset with her.
That's all I ever wanted. For someone to save me.
But we don't always get what we want, do we?
Enclosed with this letter are my ones from you. I can't keep them, Sasuke-kun. It would be too painful. But I think it would be even more painful to burn them, so I'm returning them to you.
Knowing you has given me enough happiness to last me for the rest of my lifetime. And loving you was the most beautiful and wonderful adventure I shall ever experience.
With you, Sasuke-kun, I don't regret anything. Even if I knew from the beginning that we couldn't be together, I would still do everything all over again.
I'm sorry, I love you, and I miss you.
It is February 13th, and Neji and Sakura are attending a ball hosted by one of Neji's more… eccentric acquaintances.
"A pre-Valentine's Day celebration!" Rock Lee had exclaimed, eyes sparkling with excitement.
"This is stupid," Neji commented.
"Neji! Where's your sense of adventure?" Lee had chastised. "What with a beautiful, young blossom like Sakura-san as your wife, you of all people should be thanking Cupid-sama for this auspicious holiday!"
When they returned home that night, Neji had remarked on how unlucky he was having two crazy people as his best friends.
It is the first time since her wedding day that she has seen all of her friends together, and she can't remember the last time that she has laughed so much and so sincerely.
She bickers with Ino, giggles with Tenten, drinks with Kiba, exchanges cooking recipes with Chouji, dances with Lee, and argues with Shikamaru about politics.
She laughs at Shino's monotonous, not-funny comments because they actually are, punches Naruto because she's missed him, joins in with Kiba and Tenten's drunken dancing because no one around her cares, runs off with Ino to the kitchen to get Hinata ice-packs because (as Ino teases), "poor Hinata-chan must be running a fever; she looks so flushed!" and pointedly ignores Sasuke's presence throughout the entire function because she doesn't think she could look at him without bursting into tears.
As the night goes on, Sakura finds herself fast losing her energy. With five minutes to go until midnight, Sakura excuses herself outside for some fresh air. Stepping out onto Lee's back porch, she inhales the cool night air and uses one hand to massage the back of her neck whilst the other brings her glass of champagne to her lips.
"What are you doing out here, Sasuke-kun?" she asks quietly once she has drained her glass.
Sasuke doesn't reply. He merely shoves his hands into his pockets and walks forward until he is standing next to her.
"Did you receive my letter?"
They continue to gaze at the moon for a full minute, before Sasuke turns to her and asks, "Were you serious about that?"
"As serious as I'm ever going to be. Sasuke-kun?"
Sakura has never been the conventional kind of pretty, but with nothing but the light of the moon to illuminate her features, Sasuke thinks she looks breathtaking.
"I don't regret anything," she says.
"I still love you."
Sakura lowers her empty glass to her side. "All I ever wanted was for someone to save me."
The dark-haired man shakes his head slightly. "It seems I've failed on that aspect."
She nods her head in agreement. Sasuke glances down at his watch — 11:59pm. One minute until midnight, he thinks. One more minute until the spell is broken.
"Thank you, Sasuke-kun," Sakura says softly, sweetly, "for failing."
As the last minute of the day comes to a close, Sakura reaches up and kisses Sasuke for the last time.