Story: Lady Luck
Chapter 8: Teacup Candle
Pairing: Uchiha Itachi & Haruno Sakura
Sides: Uzumaki Naruto & Hyuuga Hinata, Hyuuga Neji & Tenten, Nara Shikamaru & Yamanaka Ino, Jiraiya & Tsunade, Gemna & Shizune
Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto. I do not own any of the characters associated with Naruto, nor the plot lines from either the show or the manga. In no way am i affiliated with any writing staff or have anything to do with the creation of the show or manga and do not claim to do so. I do not own any rights to any action figures, or video games, or any other books or games or shows that are based off the creation of the show Naruto. All of the previously mentioned belong to someone else who is much richer than I ever hope to be in my entire life.
Notes: This is a non-massacre story. Which means, for all who are new to this type of story where Itachi did not go off and kill off the rest of the clan.
Please read and remember to review at the end!
I have a very tempting offer for you! ^-^
The reception was held back out in the courtyard. Lanterns were hung on every building in site and hung on ropes between the buildings. Small candles floated in the water and the koi fish swam around happily knowing they were going to be fed well tonight. The newly weds sat at a sweetheart table in front of the Uchiha main house. The same house that would soon be their home for the rest of their lives, a fact Sakura was trying to ignore.
From the sweetheart table, the clan members were arranged in other tables off to the right side of the fountain while the other guests were arranged on the other side. The buffet was located on the complete opposite side of the fountain.
Why did Sakura agree to that?
She could hear the food calling her name.
But she was stuck at the sweetheart table as her and her husband received congratulations on their marriage, praises on the beauty of their ceremony, and the never ending stream of compliments on her kimonos.
So there she was again, talking with some Uchiha-someone or another… their names began to blur together after a while. This time it was an older woman whose husband had passed away. Her son, who was also paying his respects, was part of the Konoha military police force. A chunin, according to Itachi he never applied himself enough to pass the jounin exams.
Apparently that was a rather common occurrence with the branches whose parents are not both well accomplished shinobi.
"Oh and I just know the little male Uchihas you pop out Sakura-san, will be just as accomplished as Itachi is."
Sakura just forced the corners of her mouth to stay in a smile. Just keep smiling, just keep smiling, she told herself.
Inside she was furious. This was not the first woman, or man to come up and tell her something similar. How beautiful she looked and how they would assume that she would be popping out little Itachi's soon enough. -That expectation is exactly what she feared. Was this all they were going to see her as? Just some machine to bring little raven haired, obsidian eyed, sharingan wielding, Uchiha geniuses into the world? Oh never mind she was the top field medical konochi. Never mind she was one of the top medical examiners at the hospital. Never mind that her team was one of the most talented in Konoha.
Nope she was expected to be a dutiful wife and walk around with a pregnant belly, a toddler on her hip with a trail of Uchiha ducklings following her every step.
Inner Sakura shivered for a moment then thought: Well, at least your sex life will be happening.
Sakura actually shivered.
"Both Itachi and I will be re-assuming our work before we think about having children. Neither of us are ready to become a parent." Sakura just smiled and nodded turning to her husband. This was the 'political' answer she had been giving all night to various clan members who came up to her.
Itachi could not help but smile at his new bride. The number of clan members feeling as if this comment was appropriate enough for the moment of their reception. These were not the worst of the questions though and even though he sensed the slight aggravation in his wife's voice, he knew she was handling herself very well. They were in between their scheduled time for courses. Almost to the main meal, Sakura's stomach was rumbling violently. The rosette was in her new character right now, so she would never complain about her hunger. The slight glances she would make towards the decorative array of fruits, vegetables, cheeses, wine, finger foods and desserts was calling her name.
As well as his. Itachi would never show it, but his stomach was avidly telling him that nourishment would be needed, and needed soon.
Uchiha-what's-her-name was looked at the raven haired prodigy, raising a quizzical brow. Leaving little room for his distant cousin-or other to begin talking much again, the bridegroom ushered his thanks for their kind words and turned back to his rosette.
"Itachi," Sakura started.
"Hime?" he answered turning slowly to look at her.
Sakura opened her mouth to speak before giving him a stern look briefly. Must he really call her that? She then continued, "If I have to talk to one more of your relatives about my future Uchiha sons I am going to punch something."
Itachi smirked. She was doing fine, and she knew it. He had a feeling the whole redundancy of the statement and the constant underestimation of her own skills and abilities was the cause of her true irritability. It was quite shocking how easily Sakura's moods could change. She really was an emotionally based person.
"Believe me when I say Sakura, they know enough not to anger you from the previous demonstration you gave them at the previous family gathering."
Was that supposed to be a joke? Sakura raised an eyebrow at Itachi.
He was smirking
Uchiha Itachi just made a joke.
Well what do you know.
The band played a small cord signaling it was time for dinner.
Finally, both parties thought at the same time.
Both of the newlyweds took a deep, relaxing breathe. For at least 30 minutes they would get time to themselves. Some of the few they would have all night.
They would get to eat fill themselves with actual protein and nourishment. Secretly, Sakura wanted a glass of sake, just to take the edge off of the situation. Possible taste this vintage that Tsunade accepted from Itachi.
So. Completely. Wrong.
Three things happened almost instantly. First, Itachi's chakra became very defensive. Sakura could feel the aura building around the small area between the two of them, almost as if it was reaching out to her. Second, he put a hand on her knee over her kimono. Sakura's heart skipped a beat. Her senses became very acute after noticing Itachi's defensive aurora. Thirdly, for a brief moment, Itachi's eyes bleed into the spinning crimson wheels of the sharingan.
"Uchiha Masaru," Itachi muttered.
Sakura had heard the name before. Her gaze raised to her husband, who was staring at two figures walking towards the sweetheart table.
Both husband and wife thought the same thing, for different reasons:
Sakura found herself unconsciously interlacing her own fingers with Itachi's, which surprised him greatly, but he did not resist. He assumed she was attempting to draw a physical sense of security and comfort from the connection.
The later Uchiha shared only fractions of information about the distinguished man walking beside his father. Much less than he knew Sakura was prepared for. Strangely, a celebration of the union of two people does not leave those two people much time to talk.
The worst possible situations played out in Itachi's mind. Many involved a battle of bloodline limits and chakra enhanced punches, lots of debris, the destruction of the Uchiha compound. He resisted the urge to express a positive emotional reaction to that thought. His plan was not to go that far.
Uchiha Masaru was the eldest elder on the Uchiha clan counsel. No piece of information missed his ears; every decision made for "the good of the clan" was approved by him first, not later. He had hoped, Masaru would have waited until much later to even approach his new wife.
Unless his goal was something much more, Sakura's strength would be measured right here, right now. Masaru was a master at intimidation.
Itachi stood up when the two figures finally reached the table. Sakura followed suit a moment later, slightly annoyed as she smelled the decadent feast wafting up towards her nose. Her disdain for the elder began to grow even further; first for not allowing her an audience to plead her case against this marriage, second for preventing her from eating. Third, for having the arrogance to demand an audience during her meal at her wedding reception. Why should such arrogance be rewarded with exactly what he desired? Because he was a clan elder?
Sakura once again forced a smile, with every inch of dislike she developed for this man.
"Itachi if you would allow me to address, Sakura for the moment," Fugaku started not really waiting for his son's permission. "Sakura, may I introduce our clan's respect counsel leader, Uchiha Masaru"
There was a slight pause as Sakura turned her attention from her father-in-law to the new man. The clan elder's cold, unyielding, face withering and analytical, waited for Sakura to make the next move. With a slight bend of her waist, Sakura bowed to the elder dark haired male. "Masaru-sama," she said, boldly maintaining eye contact.
The male figure held her emerald gaze for a moment. His eyes seemed to be nothing more than a black icy vortex of pride. Sakura feared if she touched him, then he would crumble into a thousand shards of ice. But, this man right now was the bane of Sakura's existence. This man embodied all of the traditions, the rules, the ideals that bound not just Itachi, Sasuke, and Shisui but now her as well. She knew this meeting, currently interrupting her tempering meal, was a means to begin the intimidating.
Well guess what, an angry Tsunade was much more intimidating than him. The four tails of chakra streaming from Naruto were more intimidating than him. Saving the life of the Kazekage's brother was more intimidating than any words this wrinkled bag of potatoes could bring.
"Thank you for the honor of visiting us Masaru-sama" Itachi said.
The old man's response scratched his way out of a raspy vocal cords. Sakura wondered how hold this man actually is. "I would not be one to be absent the wedding of the next clan leader, even though there are some individuals here who some would not deem worthy of attendance."
Everyone in attendance at her wedding, who was not an Uchiha, represented parts of her life who supported and encouraged her. The other clans such as Shikamaru's, and Ino's, Masaru probably considered so far beneath himself and the Uchiha clan. Not to mention he probably was one of the one's who were completely shocked that not just one, but two, Hyuugas participated in an Uchiha wedding.
Chakra gathered in her fingers as she squeezed Itachi's hand a little tighter than she probably should have.
Itachi returned her pressure with his own, less intense, squeeze.
"On the contrary Masaru-sama," Sakura focused all of her energy into the smile she now plastered on her face. "The Hokage herself is here today."
Cold, obsidian eyes focused on Sakura's emerald. For a split second they flashed over her form, noting her defensive chakra signal, and her hand firmly entwined with her new husband's. "No Hokage has missed the marriage of an important clan, it is nothing but a duty to the position."
"Tsunade-shishou," Sakura emphasized, "Would not have missed my wedding for anything. In fact, many of the guests in attendance-"
"We are all well aware of your close relationship with Tsunade-sama, Sakura-san." Fugaku cut in quickly. The tension was obviously tangible between the two sets of Uchihas.
Itachi finally spoke up again, after watching the anger fueling his new wife, "I believe it is in the best interest of the village, to invite such a diverse group from all types of clans and life supports and cohesiveness between all clans and shinobi."
Sakura smirked and glanced at her new husband a look out of the corner of her eyes.
He was supporting her, he was actually supporting her. Just like he said, he Itachi, the man who forced her into this marriage, was supporting her against his family.
Actions always speak louder than words.
"The village does not concern me Itachi, the clan is our first priority." Masaru said sharply.
Itachi's eyes narrowed. So there it was. The clan was always the first priority. "While we appreciate this unsolicited attention, my wife and I wish to return to our meals before the other evening activities begin."
Fugaku's eyes widened slightly as Itachi's brazen statement, shunning them away. "Watch your tongue Itachi."
Masaru did not flinch at all. "The clan also expects evening activities to produce an heir within the year."
Itachi's hand suddenly gripped Sakura's hard, anchoring her in place. With her tongue in her check she said, "Your expectations might be disappointed in that time frame Masaru-sama,"
Masaru faulted for a moment. A half a second if that, but he faltered. Take that!
Sakura guessed that he was not used to such defiance.
"May I remind you, are the future Lady Uchiha, it is up to you to set the example for the rest of the clan. Since you are new to the concept of being a part of something bigger than your own selfish goals and beliefs, I would advise you to remember how luck you will experience since marrying Itachi and marrying into the Uchiha clan. Therefore, I will assume you are going to rephrase that statement. Otherwise I will have no choice but to go tell the rest of your clan you refuse to have children."
"Masaru-sama you twist my words," Sakura began her retort, "Itachi and I both know we are expect to have children as the heads of the Uchiha household…"
"I am glad we have an understanding." He interrupted the bride.
"Masaru-sama." Sakura stated firmly. The assertion in her voice rivaled that of Tsunade herself. "Since you seem to have forgotten who I am let me remind you. My name is Haruno-Uchiha Sakura. I am the apprentice to the Slug Sannin, Tsunade-hime, and currently your Godaime Hokage. I am personal friends with three candidates for the next title of Hokage, and personal friends with the Kazekage who has traveled three days from Suna to see and support me at my wedding.. I am the topic medical field ninja, having saved many of your clan's lives and treating many of their injuries. I am the topic medical examiner at the Konoha Hospital. I am a member of team Kakashi with Itachi's brother Uchiha Sasuke and Uzumaki Naruto. I am not defined by the fact I now bare an Uchiha surname. Do I make myself clear?"
There was a moment of silence. Sakura was shaking with the endorphins rushing through her body after giving everything behind that speech. She had been hanging around Tsunade and Shizune way too much to have the mental and emotional strength to say what she just said. Then again, he should have known better considering how much Tsunade has rubbed off on her apprentice.
Throughout the duration of her monologue, the rage she had directed towards the clan had come out. The rage, unrest, and pain she had built up and buried inside of her spilled out. At the end, she was shaking so violently, she felt like she could have obliterated the entire compound with one single punch.
"Masaru-sama, you knew who you welcomed into the clan." Itachi stepped in. "You knew exactly who she is, where she came from, and you should know that neither Sakura or I am in a position to be parents. Yes, maybe in due time when I have retired from ANBU and when my wife has accomplished everything in her own career she wishes, then we will consider having children. Right now, on my wedding day, I want a moment with my wife. Thank you Uchiha-sama, father, for your audience but Sakura and I will begin our meal now."
Sakura Haruno-Uchiha smirked. She had no regrets about anything either one of them said, and sat down promptly to begin eating her meal. Ignoring the two gentlemen who were still stunned standing on the other side of sweetheart table.
Uchiha Itachi merely declined his head, in a shallow nod and following suit, sitting down and resuming his own meal. Sakura's grip on his own hand had caused some bruising and possibly a broken bone or two, no pain too great that he had not dealt with before.
Nothing else was said, the two gentlemen returned back to the Uchiha side of the reception while Itachi caught the bridal party table looking over in confusion. Sasuke's sharingan was activated and the same with Shisui. The Hyuuga girl's Byakugan retracted back; no doubt she had been listening in as well. Naruto was obviously aggravated that he was relaying second hand on what other's told him.
They would have their time with their beloved sister shortly.
Right now was his. Itachi knew Sakura needed his support.
"Is that what you were talking about?" Sakura asked after many moments of silence. She had consumed her food quicker than he had ever seen before.
"Sakura," Itachi spoke her name gently, as not to disrupt her nerves.
"Itachi what kind of world did you drag me into?" She turned to him, her heart pounding, tears almost formed in her eyes. "I knew the clan was tough but Sasuke… how much did you actually shield from Sasuke?
The male finished chewing his food before turning before his new mate. "I will tell you Sakura. But tonight is not the night, not with half the clan here, not on your wedding reception."
Sakura looked into Itachi's eyes, trying her best to read him. She looked at the tired and weary muscles in his face, the counter lines of his jaw, the squared off shoulders; anything she could. But she could not interpret anything from him.
"Itachi," Sakura began looking down, grabbing his hand. What he did for her in that moment with his father and the Uchiha clan elder. Immediately she noticed the bruising on his hand. "Did I do that?"
Nothing was said again between the two. She sensed that he did not want to blame her for his current situation. Maybe because he felt guilty, maybe for another reason. Either way she did not know nor did she care. Focusing her chakra, her hands began to glow green as she sandwiched his hand between her own. Her own chakra found its way into his hand. Under the first layer of skin, down to the cellular level, urging his body to heal itself. She carefully healed the small fractures she found. Once she was done, her chakra retreated.
Unconsciously Itachi flexed his hand. Sakura had never had to heal him before. In fact he did not like when medic ninjas attended to him before his teammates because his injuries were never as severe.
"Thank you Sakura."
"It was the least I could do for breaking your hand. Why did you not say anything?"
Itachi just shook his head. "Think nothing of it hime."
The band began to play again, and the servers came around once again to collect the empty plates. After three minutes the tempo changed, inviting people to actually begin dancing now that dinner was almost over.
Itachi did not say anything, just cupped her hand in his. He stood, she followed suit; and while guiding his arm he lead her around the table before tucking her arm in his. Together they made their way to the dance floor. Itachi nodded to the band who again, started up a song with longer, somber notes before turning to his new bride.
"May I have this dance Sakura-hime?"
Sakura blushed while looking back up at him. "Oh so that is what we are doing out on the dance floor. Do you know how to dance Itachi?"
Itachi pulled her closer, wrapping his left around around her waist and bringing their right hands out to the side. Itachi leaned into her close enough for his breath to caress her cheek. Enough for her to think he was going to kiss her again in front of everyone.
Her heart skipped a beat for a moment. Instead of kissing her he only whispered, "you have no idea what I can do hime-"
Husband began to lead his wife around the dance floor in time with the music. The wedding, the reception, the glamour and grandeur of evening, all seemed to disappeared with every synchronized step.
All of it, melted away until it was just the two of them, moving in time with the music.
Right then and there two eyes locked and something changed.
He became more than just a man to her.
In the beginning yes, this man represented everything bad and evil that had happened. Sakura thought he was trying to tame her, to clip her wings, to cage a girl. While not entirely false, he was not trying to brand her as an Uchiha and chain her to an Uchiha baby making/child rearing/domestic life.
There was still one question that was burning in her mind: Why force her into marriage? If Itachi was truly that interested, why corner her? Why give her no other option?
Naruto just did not understand.
He stood there, right in the middle of it all, and he could not figure it out.
Hinata approached him, cautiously, assessing his quizzical face. She was never sure what exactly could come out of her blonde lover's mouth at any one given time. "Naruto," her timid voice, registered on an important wave length in Naruto's mind.
"Hinata, I just can figure it out." He said, his gaze still
"You are confused about the dessert buffet?" Hinata asked, referring to the large display of gourmet foods before the two of them.
Naruto turned quickly to look at the beautiful girl who had loved him for years before he had even noticed her. Confounded he looked back at the tray of delectable pastries before him.
Oh, he thought, "those do look delicious Hinata. It's just…" He looked back at the sweetheart.
He had not even noticed the spread. There was something else on his mind. "But you are more worried about Sakura-chan?" Hinata asked?
"Ne, Hinata-chan, Sakura-chan just means so much to me," awkward pause, "I mean you are awesome, and wonderful, and more than I could have ever asked for," Naruto struggled to cover his tracks. He was still not used to this boyfriend thing.
"Naruto-kun, it is alright, I understand. Sakura-chan is like a sister to you." Hinata smiled and gently entwined her arm with his own. "Come on, tell me what you are worried about."
She lead him away from the table and out onto the dance floor. Other couples were also dancing. Sakura had danced her first dance and the night was nothing more than an upscale party. All of their friends were there, but everything felt off. Something was not the same.
And Naruto could not figure out what it was.
Sakura laughed with them, she still danced with him, and Sasuke, Kakashi, and Sai. Half of the stick-up-asses-clan watched while Gaara approached Itachi to ask permission to dance with the new bride. Many younger cousins stood on the side as Gaara pulled Sakura close.
That would be a good fight to watch. Itachi vs. Gaara. They would name it the battle for a cherry blossom.
Naruto shook his head. He was getting away from himself.
"Why would Teme's brother go to such lengths to marry Sakura-chan so soon? Not like Sasuke, Sai or even myself could match up against him individually; maybe if we throw Kakashi-sensei in there with Tsunade-baachan, then we could. But why? Why is it so important to marry her against her will in less than a year?"
Hinata smiled sweetly at her blonde lover. He was so smart, thick headed and stubborn, but he had the biggest heart and he did pick up on everything around him. That was part of the reason she admired him. Among many others.
"It surprised me just as much as anyone else Naruto-kun." Hinata said as they began to sway back and forth on the dance floor.
"Understatement!" Naruto laughed aloud, "Teme could not even do anything about it. Then again he did not try very hard…"
"What? It is true!"
Then came the moments where Hinata could not help but laugh. "Naruto it is not always black and white when it comes to clan matters. Sasuke is very torn up about this too."
The hyperactive blonde was silent. There was an unspoken knowledge between the two. Sasuke should have fought harder for Sakura. Everyone else saw it. The way those two interacted. Sasuke was supposed to end up with Sakura once everyone was married off.
"Maybe we have to face the fact that Sasuke-san and Sakura-chan were not meant to be together."
Naruto sighed. He was not in the habit of giving up, and he did not think Sasuke was either. Maybe Hinata was right. Teme's brother was a good guy… besides the whole forcing Sakura to marry him thing. But that still left the one question in his mind.
Why the rush? If Itachi was really all the interested in Sakura, why trap her like that?
Naruto did not like that. More because it meant Itachi was smarter than Sakura, and Tsunade-baachan; which meant he was smarter than Naruto gave him credit to be.
Kind of hard to play protective big brother when the guy was twice a smart as you and had a better reputation.
Naruto smirked, he would still take Itachi. Uchiha clan or no. Sharingan or no. Naruto would take him down the moment he did anything to upset Sakura.
Hinata leaned in to rest her head on Naruto's chest. "Maybe there is something big in the clan that is going on soon and Itachi was pressured to find a wife. Maybe instead of choosing someone from in the clan he wanted someone outside of the clan and needed to marry her before something bad happened.
Naruto thought on this. "Like what?"
"Like what?" The dark haired male snapped his head towards another dark haired male.
The older of the two scanned the area making sure not many people were listening. "I don't know, they won't tell me or Itachi."
"What do you mean…"
"Keep your damn voice down." Shisui snapped. "Listen Sasuke, Itachi has done a great deal to protect you from clan politics-"
"Hn, so I have heard. Yet now he drags Sakura into it."
"Trust me it was either Sakura or one of your mindless cousins who have been swooning after Itachi since they could walk. The one's whose fathers and mothers cultivated them to be a perfect Uchiha Matriarch. The very ones who are glaring daggers are your beloved teammates, probably plotting her untimely death."
"hn," Sasuke sneered, like they actually could. "Then please enlighten me cousin: What is so damn important? Why her? Why now? Fill me in for once!"
"All I know is that it that plans are going to be set in motion to 'remind' this village that the Uchiha clan the most powerful one in the village. All others are insignificant."
Sasuke's eyes narrowed at his cousin. "That's specific."
"I smell blood and I don't like it."
"Does Sakura know?"
"No, Itachi plans to tell her once she gets settled."
Sasuke glanced over towards their family's side of the reception. Masaru sat with the other elders and their table along with his father and mother. His face gave away no expression, but the concerned looks on the other's faces long with the hmm-ing tenors of many questions being asked, Sasuke knew it was not good.
He wanted to talk to his mother. See if there was anything she could tell him. He should be the one telling Sakura. He was the one who had been with her through thick and thin.
"Promise, cousin, you cannot tell."
Sasuke snapped back. "Then why even let me know?"
Shisui looked at Itachi and Sakura; the 'happy couple had just cut the cake. He had told Itachi to shove the piece in her face, but both were a picture of pristine happiness as they gingerly placed the cake in one another's mouth.
He had every faith in their relationship. Itachi, despite his emotional problems would learn to trust and respect Sakura.
He just needed a good lay first.
The elder Uchiha cousin turned his head back to the younger, "Because whether we like it or not we are the future of this clan. Its rooted in past and tradition that was founded when tradition needed to stand. Change is the future and if the Uchiha clan gets its way… the whole village is doomed. And since Sakura is not an Uchiha by birth, if Sakura were to anger the clan, I fear what would happen to her."
Sasuke's sharingan flashed for a moment. Then settled when he realized Shisui meant no harm.
He hated this. The pull he felt between his team and his clan. Sasuke was bound by blood to a group of people with expectations and traditions to uphold the very name of the crest he wore. Still, family was something that he never held with them. His family was elsewhere. With the dobe, and the weird pale guy who joined their team later. With Kakashi who had personally mentored him, who had steered him away from a dark path he almost traveled years ago. This was the family, those precious people he swore to protect, and the ones he would.
Sakura was actually his sister now. By law and by choice, through years they had grown together, had helped one another. He had to protect her. Even if he had to protect her from his blood family.
"This isn't going to be good is it?" Sasuke asked.
Shisui took a swig of sake. "Nope. Don't think so. But a lot depends on that little leaf. Their marriage might save this whole village."
"She was always so respectful when I had spoken to her before," one whispered.
"Why would she not want to produce future heirs for the clan?" Another whispered.
"You let him marry outside of the clan Fugaku," accused a third.
"When I presented his choice to the clan counsel for official approval, I heard no objections. As was so clearly stated, you all knew who she was and where she was coming from."
"Do not flash such arrogance and disrespect in my face again." Masaru snapped quickly, "This village needs to be reminded once again of the power the Uchiha clan holds."
"Enough," Mikoto finally stood up from the table. "Ancestors forbid all of you. This is the girl's wedding day, Itachi's wedding day, your future clan leader mind you. This is supposed to be the happiest day of their life and you waltz right up and tell her that you demand a child from her? Like such business could not wait till after the honeymoon?"
"Mikoto you will sit back down and remember to whom you are speaking." Her husband reminded her in a thick, irate voice that would have shattered glass if it could.
The Uchiha matriarch looked at her husband for a good long second, "Why Fugaku? I have been silent for years and years. I let you walk over me for most of my life and this is what I get in return? I have been a good wife, a loyal and obedient wife to you and to the clan for years. Don't you dare raise your voice to me when I attempt to defend the relationship of our son and daughter?
"And that goes for the rest of you." She heatedly turned upon the rest of the elders. She was done, she was fed up with them. And she was not going to be weak enough to let them corrupt the one thing she could do for her son and her new daughter.
"Their marriage was forced upon them, all of you know that. Do not pretend otherwise. The one and only Haruno Sakura is now Uchiha Sakura. What more could we ask for? Let their relationship evolve natural on their own. They have risen to the occasion and have planned such a wedding and reception. They will play your part. The whole village is now invested in their relationship. It is bigger than the Uchiha clan. She is the village sweetheart. Now, she is the next Lady Uchiha. Let their marriage represent what the Uchiha clan can be; not forcing them into what you think it should be."
She had to leave. She just spoke out against the very people who arranged her own marriage into the first family. So promptly, the current Lady Uchiha left the table. Looking for either one of her sons, her new daughter, or any other logical woman.
Maybe she'd even go talk to Hiashi.
Masaru only looked at Fugaku. The intent and unspoken message was clear. Get control, maintain control, and assert control. "We are still planning to proceed as scheduled."
Fugaku only nodded in return as the elders left the reception.
The current head of the Uchiha clan looked at his son once again dancing with his pink beauty of a wife, on the dance floor. It was almost time for them to depart and they had hardly left each other's side all evening. Was his wife right?
In that moment, Fugaku made eye contact with his son's crimson sharingan.
After the Reception
Sakura sat next to Itachi in the back seat both of them facing the driver. To say she was feeling awkward would be an understatement. It was like a bad blind date on steroids. Neither she nor Itachi said a word to one another since they left the reception. Sakura did not know why, because he had been full of conversation at the reception; pointing out this person or that person, giving her names to take down so she would remember them later; even standing up with her against his clan elders.
Both individuals knew this was a different type of awkward. As supportive as Itachi was about not having children, there was still a topic that neither man or wife breached at the reception.
The anticipation of what could happen as they spent their first night as married couple. Alone, in a honeymoon suite. She felt like the whole world was watching. She knew Ino was expecting a full report when her rosette best friend finally returned from her 10 day hiatus. Sakura was still trying to figure out a way to tell her that she did not have sex on her honeymoon.
Sakura knew she was not strong enough to stop him, but she did not think Itachi the type to even imagine doing such a thing. She knew, he had probably experienced, the trust it takes for a shinobi to allow such intimate physical contact.
Still, the newest addition to the Uchiha clan could not help but wonder… she had heard stories. Rumors really, and none that have the slightest bit of plausibility.
Stop it right now, the little voice said inside her head.
Why deny it?
There is nothing there to deny. Anything you are feeling, is nothing more than the gratitude that he is not going to be putting you on your back.
Itachi stood up for me. And what if…
No. Stop that thought. Never forget he also forced you into that situation.
But he's not abandoning me…
Second point of awkwardness: arguing with the little voice inside her head. This argument of her feelings towards Itachi now has been going on since their talk with Masura. Especially during their first dance as a couple.
When the world melted away and there was nothing but him. Sakura wanted to trust the butterflies in her gut telling her that he was being just as manipulative as before. That all of this was nothing more than an attempt to deceive. Just as he had tricked Tsunade into giving her permission for Itachi to marry Sakura.
The infamous pink haired ninja was completely confused. It was times like these she wished she had the same aptitude for strategy like Shikamaru
Her head rolled to one side, watching the trees go by one by one, by one, by one. Nothing more than a rhythmic lull as she traveled. She had leapt through those trees before, heading out for missions with her team. Which also was the third awkward point… carriage ride? Really? Nothing short of romantic for sure, but Sakura had a feeling this was not enjoyable for either herself or her new husband.
Husband, she thought, the word was even weird to think about.
She was a married woman now. Hands already folded in her lap, Sakura caught herself playing at the band on her left hand. She was bound by law and by honor to the man to her left. Right then she began to question herself. Was she truly okay with this? Or had she just pushed any fight she had left so far down she had become numb to the situation?
Itachi looked straight ahead. Head not moving. Does he ever even blink? Sakura wondered, but had a feeling if she were to test the theory; her actions would only feed the large elephant riding the carriage with them.
Eventually, Sakura could not take the silence any more. She felt so alone, with someone- her husband- who was supposed to be all over her right now. At least that was how she pictured it. A honeymoon with a man who loved her, fully, and completely, in this life, and the next.
Love…Was it possible for Sakura to love Uchiha Itachi?
Was it possible for Uchiha Itachi to love her?
Mikoto had said if she kept her heart open then Itachi might open his. Sakura had given her word to Mikoto that she would try. This marriage was not going to end any time soon after all.
"Itachi, I…" Sakura began hesitantly, not knowing what to say. What could they possibly talk about now? Their impending wedding and reception shenanigans were the discussed topics up until that point. What now? What was supposed to happen now and for the rest of their lives?
His head did not move, "Is there something you wish to discuss hime?" Itachi said in his low tenor of a voice. Smooth as silk as his hair gently flowed in the wind and the pace the two white horses would take them.
"Why do you always call me hime?" Sakura asked, her face squinting at the word. She was not a princess. She knew the nickname of Konoha's Sweetheart, but there was nothing she could do about that, and she kind of liked the idea.
Hime was a completely different type of nickname with a different connotation.
"Why do you have an objection to it?" Itachi countered simply, slightly tilting his head to look at her in the corner of his charcoal eyes. The stress lines on his face stood out more prominently, probably do the expectations and stress of the day. Why did he have to look so goddamn handsome? All. The. Time.
"Why do you always counter my questions will questions of your own? It is rather annoying." She commented, still with her eyebrows scrunched together.
Only then did Sakura finally realize how tired she truly was. Her whole body seemed to sink at once. So much for the soldier pills, she thought. exhaustion weighed heavy on her body. Her head ached slightly from talking and trying to remember everyone's name. Most of all her mouth hurt, too many force smiles throughout the night.
Itachi's body shifted now, so his shoulders were square looking at her as well as his eyes boring down into hers. "Your shishou is often known as Tsunade-hime, is that not correct?"
"Because she was the granddaughter of the first Hokage, yes."
"So one could say Tsunade-sama was destined for greatness?" Itachi questioned again.
"One could say, but she did not achieve her greatness because of her grandfather. She earned the position of Hokage through great work and dedication to her skills as a shinobi. She is the only female of the three Sannin. Also a title she did not earn due to her grandfather." Sakura made sure that she emphasized the part about earning her way instead of bloodlines.
"Many people compare you to Tsunade-sama, Sakura-hime." The tenor of his voice echoed on those words.
Sakura's breath caught in her mouth momentarily. "I highly doubt I will ever be Hokage Itachi-san"
"Please Hime," Itachi reached his arm forward slowly towards Sakura's face, he had done this too many times that Sakura, although hesitant, did not lean away. Itachi brushed a piece of hair behind her ear. "Although you may not be Hokage; you are destined for greatness."
Sakura's mouth fell open slightly as she just stared at Itachi. Why was she always surprised at these poetic words that came out from his mouth? He had such a reputation of being a cold, stoic, intimidating shinobi. But with her, she suspected only with her, he displayed a softness which astonished her.
"I believe we are here," Itachi said as he turned back around to face the front of the carriage. Sakura followed, turning her body to gaze upon the little town where they would be spending their first official night as man and wife.
The inn was rustic, and just on the other side of the welcome arch The small town was famous for its restaurant and woody lifestyle. It comprised mostly civilians with some basic shops and a main street of vendors and travels on and from their way to Konoha. The inn itself was built from, what looked like, long horizontal strips of wood. The owners and staff had been informed in advance of their special guests and prepared their largest room in honor of the Uchiha family no doubt.
The carriage pulled up to the front of the inn and attendants immediately took what few belongings they did have, insisting it was their pleasure to deliver it to the newlywed's room. Itachi exited the carriage from the side closer to him and he walked around the back to help his new bride down. She kept the appearances on, taking Mikoto's words to heart, her arm wrapped in his and she followed his lead into the small in.
Inside was nothing like the outside. The inn maintained a rustic theme but between the water fixtures and the marble reception area, she knew some major advancements had been made. Some faded paint spots on the wall might have suggested stuffed animal heads mounted there at some point, however, the new management or interior decorated removed them and elected for a simplistic design exhibiting the natural wildlife found in Konoha.
The two approached the string of employees waiting by the front desk.
"Welcome Uchiha-samas," A woman from behind the desk spoke.
"Uchiha will do if you must address us formally."
Uchiha Sakura. Even though by legal right she retained her own last name. She knew she would be commonly known as Uchiha Sakura from now on. She took in a deep breath, clean water and forest filled her with calming sensation. Aromatherapy. Nice touch.
The lady behind the desk, better dressed than any of the others around her in uniform. She was obviously the proprietor of the inn and wanted to greet her guests formally. "Welcome, my name is Satou Takami we are so pleased to have you with us."
I bet she is, Sakura thought.
The woman continued, "This is Aemi, she will show you to your room. Jouta will make sure your belongings are delivered safely. We are still serving in the dining room if you are hungry from your journey, or we can have any dish brought up to your room. Here are your keys, housekeeping will be around in the morning but there is no rush for the two of you. I know you have other places to go but while you are my guest you will have the top quality service available."
"Thank you madam," Itachi nodded his head taking the keys. Aemi, not any older than Sakura herself took a giddy step forwards and she stared at Itachi with a smile on her face. "Follow me sir."
For some reason, the girl's reaction irritated Sakura. What am I chopped liver now? I am standing right here thank you very much.
Itachi noticed the scent of jealousy in the little female next to him. In a way it was not a surprise, but was at the same time, he never would fully understand the emotional bipolarness of the female race.
Itachi shared his bed with a clan member before, he guessed they were together. She was so much like his mother in so many ways that he had to cut it off after. He knew he was destined to become a member of ANBU and she was groomed to be the next Lady Uchiha. She was not a warrior, not like he was. But her jealousy was produced in a never ending series of questions. She was worried every time another female even looked at him. She never did anything about it. She let it eat away at her.
He vowed never again.
Sakura was a warrior. She was someone who protected her precious people. He had scarcely thought twice about the young woman leading them to their room on the top floor of the hotel. He was aware the reaction he had on other females, he seduced more than one easily on missions. However he never understood it. One hello and it was always: "let me have your babies."
Okay, logically he did, but I do not understand why a woman would continually go after a man who is obviously uninterested- that was also a concept he never understood.
The trio traveled down the hall and up a small flight of stairs to the top floor of the small establishment. The hallway was more elaborate as they climbed to the third floor. The small decorations more ornate and elaborate. Wood carvings in the runners along the walls. Had woven carpets and tapestries lined the hallways.
Their guide was babbling on about this or that but neither man or wife cared enough to actually listen. She stopped an elaborately hand carved door. A sakura tree was in full bloom with two young lovers asleep in each other's arms.
Really, just had to go there didn't we, Sakura rolled her eyes as the attendant bowed low to the two and Itachi opened the door. As the in-keep had said, their belongings were already piled into a corner of the room.
"Is there anything else I can do for you today Uchiha-sama?" She asked very politely, straightening up from her bow.
"No that is all."
"If you need anything else-" She started.
"You have been very attentive to our needs. Thank you, both Sakura and myself are pleased" Itachi cut her off quickly. He looked to Sakura who stared at her husband. The new bride was not entirely pleased but more pleased with the thought of her leaving. A cordial smile graced on her lips as she too thanked the young girl for doing her job.
The girl left, the door closed and there they were. Alone at last just around 9 months after the day she accompanied him to his family get-together.
This is what he wanted? A marriage to her.
This is what she agreed to. Itachi, and her, silent in a room together.
Sakura waited for Itachi to say something. She was a great team member but she was never the first one to jump to the leadership role. She was support, she was the medic. And yes, while she was the topic medic, taking control in the OR or in the field when someone was injured; she had to face the facts.
This marriage was no OR. In this marriage, in this moment, Sakura felt alone.
Emerald met onyx. And neither one said a single word.
"I'm going to get a shower." Sakura muttered at last.
With a deep breath she began to feel all the exhaustion of the day exit her body. She was no stranger to strenuous activities but an entire wedding, from dusk till dawn and after, the politics, the sitting the standing, the dancing.
So for one moment, since her good cry this morning, she wanted to be Sakura. Just Sakura.
Not the bride.
Not Tsunade's apprentice.
Not the medic on team seven.
And certainly not Haruno-Uchiha Sakura.
By the time she had reached the bathroom she had retreated so far within herself that she did not hear Itachi's voice call after her.
Which he did. And he was kicking himself for letting her go. He had pictured this moment when they were alone for a while. He wanted to make her see he was not this evil bastard she had painted him to be. It was going to be hard if she shut him out completely.
What had he done.
It did not matter now. All that mattered was now it was his job to make it right.
Sakura did not know how long she was in the shower.
For a while she just stood under the hot water, letting it pour over her body, defrosting what was left of her.
Then she cranked the temperature up higher. She was not about to burn herself but came damn well close to it.
The Uchiha clan was nothing less than an inferno after all. Might as well get used to the heat.
But the way the water dripped down her back, and relaxed her muscles. The therapeutic attention that only a slow, steamy shower could give someone.
And in this moment she was just Sakura.
She washed away the make-up.
She washed out all the hairspray.
She scrubbed her whole body twice as if she could not get clean enough.
Then she did the whole process over again.
A part of her still wished the whole experience was a dream. That she would step out of the shower and be back at her apartment where an unruly blonde would be passed out on her couch and two dark haired stoic beauties on her floor.
Back with her team. Where she belonged.
But no, well after her fingertips looked like raisins, she knew it was time to step out of the shower.
Her skin needed lotion, her hair felt nourished enough to make her happy. Not like she needed to impress anyone now.
As Sakura wrapped a towel around her body before she stepped over the wedding kimono she shed before stepping into the shower. The garment was absolutely beautiful, but that was about it. She had no desire to put the fabric back on her body.
And if on cue there was a knock at the door.
"Sakura if you will pardon my intrusion I left a change of clothes by the door for you. With your permission I would open the door unless you would rather me not." His voice sent prickles up her spine.
For a moment Sakura did not know what to say. She had been so eager to get away from Itachi she forgot a simple change of clothes. "It's fine Itachi, just leave them by the door."
"As you wish. I will step outside the room for a moment while you retrieve them."
"Itachi you do not have to."
There was a pause. "I do not wish for you to feel uncomfortable."
After which the words: "You won't." slipped from Sakura's mouth. Quickly, as the blush was rising on her face, Sakura slid open the door to the room, grabbed the small pile of clothes, and retreated back into the bathroom before she even noticed the two heels retreating to the corner of the room.
Somehow, Sakura did not feel awkward. She actually smiled a little to herself. She held her classic red outfit in her hand, but instead of the Haruno crest on the back, the Uchiha crest, in all it's glory was pressed and stitched into the fabric.
At that moment Sakura felt a little chakra release. Itachi
She hurried to dress herself and slide the rice door open, "Itachi are you okay? I felt a…"
Oh. My. God.
Itachi stood at the foot of the bed. In his casual black cargo pants and black shirt with his own Uchiha crest. His hair, glossy and dark swept free around his shoulders, unbound and as wild as the woods around Leaf. His posture relaxed, hands in his pocket, shoulders rolled forward, eyes cast down.
Still more remarkable was the small glowing candles lit around the room, the soft glow emanating from the illuminated the now darkened room. Shadows met corners of the room as old friends, while the soft glow of the fire danced upon the wick of the teacup candles. The deep red, dark crimson color which colored the four walls almost seemed black or as red as fire itself depending on the light. The candles had a subtle scent of pine, not enough to overwhelm but just enough to complement the atmosphere. The small wax luminaries were also on every surface possible: the bed, the dresser the floor the windowsill.
All but the path between him and her.
Sakura marveled at the simplistic beauty as she stood there completely astonished.
Slowly Itachi raised his head, hair framing both sides of his face. His stress lines deepened with the stress of the day. His obsidian eyes captured her own, as they had done before; "With your permission Sakura I would like to approach you."
You can do whatever you want to me- some part of her thought.
Wait no, there's a catch- another part of her caught.
The two competitors in her head had to settle for a slight nod. The anticipation growing, questions forming in her head. What was he going to do? What was with this beauty?
With cautious steps Itachi moved closer to her. She did not shy away and when he finally reached her person Itachi surprised her and took his hand, and placed them palms up in front of her. There he paused, lifting his eyes to meet her own. he was waiting for her.
Swallowing, Sakura closed her eyes and took a deep breath in trying to calm her now racing heart. She did not know why she was so nervous. Itachi had never hurt her before. However the ambiguousness of his actions, his unpredictability.
"I am not going to hurt you Sakura." He assured her the timbre of his voice touching her heart.
"I know." She managed to whisper.
This was Uchiha Itachi's attempt at being romantic. Itachi was trying to be gentle and give her comfort.
Damn you Kakashi-sensei. She was a lucky lady if this was just a taste of Itachi's romantic side.
She placed her pale hands in his own. Long fingers, capable of such destruction, wrapped around hers as gently as a grandmother holding porcelain. With a gentle tug, he pulled her forward, encouraging her steps, leading her back towards the center of the room.
The palpitations of her heart increased. The muscles in the corner of her mouth betrayed the nervous, butterflies in her stomach, curving up into the slightest smile. a small rose color appeared in her cheeks. Anticipation set in. "Itachi what is this about?"
Itachi did not say anything yet again, however the intensity of his gaze spoke enough. He examined every inch of her face. As if he was trying to imprint every rise and fall of her features. She did not reject his stare, nor his hand when he once again brushed a stray piece of hair behind her ear.
"Sakura you are a remarkable woman."
His eyes continued to search her face. She did not know what to say to him. She did not know what he was thinking.
Then again, she would probably never know what he is thinking.
Together they stood, in the middle of the room, surrounded by the simplistic beauty Itachi had created. He must have used his chakra to light all the candles at once. She could think of no other explanation for the simple release she felt earlier.
She allowed him to continue holding her hand, more because she feared if she retrieved it, this tender moment would be ruined. For that same reasons she also decided not to speak.
Itachi Uchiha did not speak with words, he spoke through actions. Sakura could only figure it was hard for an Uchiha to get a word in edgewise. Even if you were such a protégé as both Itachi and Shisui were claimed to be. Sasuke too was very skilled, but did not deal as close with the clan.
His actions told her he cared. His actions told her that he wanted her to be happy.
For a moment, she went to speak, but instead held. Itachi's eyes traveled between their hands, her eyes and her mouth. The slight movement made her wonder if he did have something to say to her.
Reaching out her chakra she sensed for his. His breaths were hastened, just a second or two more than usual. He was nervous. The signs were ever so slight, and unfortunately she did not spend enough time around him to notice every minute detail about him. Dealing with prideful shinobi was her specialty as a medic. She knew a male was a male and humility was a hard quality to come by.
"Thank you," she said simply. Her voice barely audible, was accompanied with her best 'don't-worry-it's-alright' smile. "Itachi this is beautiful."
"I wish it could be more." Itachi responded. The smooth tenor gone; instead his voice reverberated in his own chest as well as hers. Every syllable word draped with a tender seriousness she had never experience before.
"Sakura it should be more. I know what I did to you, and I did it for my own selfish needs. You are a remarkable woman who deserves better than the life I have condemned you to. I promise you Sakura, that I will do everything in my power to make you happy; as happy as if you married a man worthy of your intelligence, your skill and your beauty."
Sakura waited for him to finish, a small smirk appearing in the corners of her own mouth.
The tiniest hint to her husband that he had her undivided attention, and in this one moment between the two of them, she knew she could trust him. She knew, from this moment on, She was one of Itachi's precious people.
Her heart wanted to sing. As distrustful as she had been for the past couple of months, in this moment, with these actions Itachi was proving himself to her. In a more intimate way that she had ever experienced before in her life. Because the Uchiha, Itachi. The pride of the clan and the fu top ANBU ninja was humbling himself in front of her.
"But I believe my mother has spoken to you, as she had me, and it has given me reason to hope. Something I scarcely do. I do not believe in luck Hime, I believe luck is when opportunity meets preparation. And when the opportunity came along to make you mine I took it. By no means does that mean I will take you for granted. I meant what I said when I requested there be no secrets."
He continued, but his tone changed, it became strained; as if, for once, he struggled for words. "Emotion is never….I express well. I do not know how to express…. or even what I am supposed to feel on occasion. I have always done what is expected of me. However, from the information I have gathered, you are an emotionally based person. I am not perfect, Hime. I will make mistakes in this marriage, not that I want to, but because of my inexperience. I make my oath to you now Haruno-Uchiha Sakura, that I will strive to be the best husband I can be to you. Whenever and however you want me to be."
Sakura was the one to pause this time. She had to respond, but she was thinking what words could ever match the depth which he just matched to her.
"Well then," she whispered looking down at her feet with a smile.
This time Sakura did something she never thought she would do, ever. She searched for her husband's eyes, staring directly at him, not letting him get away for once. Leading with her chest, she moved forward until her own body was not more than an inch away from his. Their hands still linked.
With a breathe of confidence, and still maintaining their connected hands Sakura raised herself up on her tip toes, moving her face towards Itachi.
Her heart was racing, she was initiating a kiss, she wanted to express closeness to him, try to speak o him in a language he would understand. Express her happiness in this one moment towards him.
For a moment, a brief moment, when she reached the top of her tiptoes, she thought Itachi was going to leave her hanging. A wave of heat rushed towards her face. He wasn't going to respond…
but then, softly, like a touch of a newborn, Sakura felt the slightest pressure on her own lips. She felt two hands let go of hers only to curl around the small of her back, stretching her small figure up towards his height. Her one foot was forced to pop up off the ground as she pressed her own lips to her husband's.
Itachi's kiss was silk. Their lips slide against one another with a heated tenderness, full of passion, and need for the other person. The magical feeling of what a real first kiss should feel like. They were drawn to one another like magnets being pulled together against forces keeping them apart.
After a long moment in each other's embrace, the two stopped briefly, coming back out for air. Itachi leaned forward to place his own forehead on Sakura's.
"Your hands are cold."
I cannot believe the overwhelming number of readers who still picked up this story since my last update. I am truly humbled and grateful for all your love and support.
So with that, I will offer up a deal to any brave enough to take it. If anyone can tell me where I drew inspiration from for the last scene in this chapter I will do my best to incorporate any idea you may have for the story. Keyword is do my best. I do have a direction for this story now and I will be doing it, but I do not mind occasional input and other slight deviations.
Maybe such as a potential gender, description and name for a possible Uchiha child?
Also, I wish to remind a certain few that, as much as I'd like to pretend to be, I am thankful for the constant reminders of my grammatical errors, especially in my earliest chapters. I am a firm believer that constructive criticisms is a large part of becoming a better writer and that basic grammatical rules enhance one's writing. However, I ask that if that if you feel so compelled to tell me how horrible my grammar is to you, please also think of something else to comment on as well… maybe like the actual story.
The female owner off the small inn as well as the male and female employees are all OC that I created. They are not part of the anime or the manga (that I know of).
Please remember to review, it renews my passion for writing.
Stay beautiful :D