NaruSaku... but Naruto and Sakura have never forgotten a certain special person they still feel for.
Het and an insinuation of shonen-ai, so keep an open mind, yeah?
It was no surprise when Naruto went down on one knee and offered Sakura a diamond ring. The whole of Konoha had noticed all the extra missions he had been taking on to pay for the stone, even if it wasn't that big. But even without taking notice of Naruto's sudden quest for cash, it had been expected for a while. The two team mates had grown closer over the past few years, their relationship was nothing like the one from when they had both only just graduated from the academy.
Naruto's blind adoration had been replaced by a complex study and understanding of the girl. He now took notice of every part of her, taking note of both the good and bad. Needless to say, to him the good would always outweigh the bad.
Sakura no longer dismissed him as a simple moron. She had learnt to look past the annoyance, look past who he was said to be and see who he could truly be.
They had both significantly grown up. Of course life as ninja always pushed young ones to grow up quickly, but Naruto and Sakura had matured in a way that hadn't been expected from them for at least a few more years.
Their wedding was a friendly occasion ; they invited practically the whole village and some of the Sand too. Everyone felt happy for them, they received many blessings.
The first few years of their married life were lived with passion. They went on missions, fought each other in training and made love with the ferocity of the ninja they were.
They eventually settled down when Sakura became pregnant with their first child. Shortly afterwards Naruto received the long anticipated title of Hokage and more children were soon on the way.
Their life together seemed to have everything they could ever want, ever need. They seemed to be happy, to have achieved perfection. And they believed so, they lived as if it were so, both of them ignoring the tiny pull they felt in their respective hearts.
One summer night Sakura found herself awakening in an empty bed. Where was her husband? Feeling a little nervous she got up. After slipping on some sandals and a jacket she made her way out of the bedroom. The house was dark and eerily quiet. Without thinking she found herself crossing through the living room and walking out onto the balcony. She knew where Naruto would be. She quickly climbed up the railing and jumped up onto the roof. Sure enough there he was staring off into the night. He didn't immediately detect her presence, but as she stepped forward he whirled around.
"Oh, hi Sakura. Lovely evening, isn't it?" The flash in his eyes and the over joyful mood he had quickly put on to mask his darker one had given him away. And they both knew it.
"Naruto..." She walked over to him.
"Shh, please don't ask," he sounded as if he were on the verge of tears, as was she.
"Every year, Naruto, every year," she choked out, shaking her head.
"I know. But with you, Sakura, it's every day," he retorted, pain dripping from his voice.
Taken aback, she gasped, "Naruto! I-" He shushed her, putting a finger to her lips.
"It's okay, I understand."
"I'm sorry, I really am," she mumbled. He wrapped an arm around her and continued to reassure her.
After a while she turned to him and asked, "Why?" Naruto frowned.
"Why only once a year?"
Sighing, Naruto explained, "It's not only once a year, it's much more often. But July 23rd is the only night I allow myself to think of him properly, as opposed to all the other days where I just push the thoughts away."
They were quiet again for a long while, before Naruto said, "For you, I know it's every day, every night, you never stop thinking about him."
"That's not true!" she exclaimed, "not when I'm with you." Naruto gave her a sad smile.
"Glad to hear it." Though he sounded as if he didn't quite believe her.
"No Naruto, really." He shook his head.
"It's okay Sakura, I know, I've always known. In bed last night, when our last child was born, when you said 'I do'... Through all those moments and many more, I know there's a part of you that wishes it wasn't me there, with you, but him." Sakura was now letting her tears flow freely.
"Oh Naruto, I am sorry," she managed to say in a trembling voice. She felt horrible, he could tell. So he did what he knew best: he pulled her into his lap, wrapped his arms tightly around her shaking form and stroked her hair.
"Sakura, it's okay, it really is. Because..." this was it, he was finally telling her. "... Because I understand, I know just how you feel." She pulled back slightly to look into his eyes.
"You do?" He nodded.
"I really do, I feel the same way, about him." She laughed, though whether or not it was a nervous laugh Naruto couldn't be sure.
Still laughing a little she told him, "I always thought, well, I always had a bit of an idea. I knew, I just didn't want to think about it."
"We both knew, we've both known for a long time. I think we've both known ever since he left."
They sat in silent contemplation without looking at each other for what seemed like an eternity, yet like a second. Both had many things on their mind.
As the sun showed the first sign of rising, Sakura -without turning her gaze to Naruto- asked :
"What do we do now?"
"We go on." Naruto didn't pull his eyes away from the horizon as he answered either. His answer didn't seem to satisfy his wife, so he cupped her cheek and forced her to turn her head towards him.
"Sakura, I love you, I really do. You occupy a huge place in my heart, almost all of it. But I could never completely give you my heart, there's a piece that doesn't belong to you, it belongs to him." Sakura nodded, holding back tears. She tried to speak, but her emotions held the better of her. Naruto found himself once again reassuring her, "It's all right, Sakura, you don't have to say anything, I accepted the fact that you would always love him a long time ago. I don't hope to beat him in that any more." He had only made things worse for her.
"Naruto! Don't tell yourself that! It's not like you to give up hope like that."
"But it's true." Sakura bit her lip and lowered her gaze.
"It's true that I can never forget him, it's true that I love him and always will. But it's also true that I married you, Naruto. That I love you," She looked up into his eyes through her messy bangs, "I don't think I could ever live without you," she clenched his shirt tightly in her hand. "... Naruto." He smiled, but not his usual huge grin, it was more of a soft serene smile.
They held each other for a while longer, before Naruto started to squirm waking up Sakura, who was half-asleep.
"Come on, the kids are going to be waking up soon." With a nod she got up and followed him. They climbed down together, doing their best to leave all thoughts of Sasuke on the roof.
Apparently July 23rd is Sasuke's birthday.