..Chapter Sixty-Eight..




When Sakura stepped out of the tent, Ino beaming at her like a mad woman, she felt as though she'd finally come home. This was it, was the thought which raced across her mind.

She'd spent countless years trying to convince herself this was all wrong, it wasn't right for her. She allowed herself to remain by his side, to join ANBU with him, to become everything she wanted to be because of him. The whole time, denying herself that it was him at all. Yet, it was. Her body, her heart, everything, all that was her had accepted what he was to her long before she admitted it to herself.

She carried no flowers, she wore no veil and she was not swathed in a gown of pristine white as she walked past the crowd of people and towards the long dual lines of ANBU shinobi. And as she stood, poise, before the long walk that would make her his wife, she was surprised to find he was not there waiting for her at the end.

Her eyes narrowed and her looked around.

Had Kakashi changed his mind? After all this? After all the torment, tears, blood and sweat they both shed together and apart? No... her mind whispered as her heart slowly began to break.

She felt a tap on her shoulder and swiftly looked left through the slits of her mask. Her heart stopped racing and her mind stopped coming up with analytical reasons as soon as she saw that mask.

"Kakashi?" she whispered, suddenly confused as she realized he was in the long line of ANBU.

"Minato-sensei wanted to make an announcement, Sakura," he whispered. "Just wait."

"An announcement..?" Her head turned and she looked down the line of ANBU towards Minato. She blinked as he smiled at her.

"Can I have silence, please?" the Hokage asked the crowd as he waved his hands outward.

It took a few moments, a few unsettled whispers, but after about a minute, there was silence in the village.

"Thank you," he called out loudly with a smile. "Now that I have your attention... I'd like to address that many of you are confused as to why I asked you all here. Some of you want to know why so many ANBU are stationed in two long rows. Well," he drawled out, pausing for effect, "what you see before you is a tradition that had been in long standing since the origination of ANBU as a unit into our village. It is customary for several, if not all of them, to show up when one of their own marries." He half smiled a murmurs rose up from the crowd.

He held his hands up again, indicating silence. "But a wedding is not the reason I have called you all here today," he explained. "Will Haruno Sakura, Uchiha Sasuke and Uzumaki Naruto please step forward and present yourselves to me?"

More murmurs rose up from the crowd as her two team mates made their way to her side.

Sakura took off her mask and looked between the two confused faces to either side of her.

"What's going on?" Naruto asked first.

"I'm not too sure," Sakura replied, eyes drawing towards Minato.

Sasuke said nothing but indicated they should move forward.

As all three began to walk, one by one, in a systematic fashion as the three passed, the long line of ANBU began to kneel; one hand gripped around the hilt of their sword as the tip rested against the ground.

"Why are they kneeling?" Sakura hissed to Sasuke.

"I don't know," he muttered back as he watched.

Sakura had no idea what was going on, but she was far more nervous than she had been about five minutes ago. A wedding was bad enough, what with cold feet daring to trip you up. But this? What was up Minato's sleeve this time?

She looked up at the small, stairway laden stage Minato stood upon until her eyes reached his. He was smiling, but for the life of her she didn't know why. Then he winked at her. It was an action that got her and her two team mates raising their brows.

"Turn around, you three," he murmured. Once team seven did as he requested he gave a short nod and returned his attention to the crowd. He placed his hands behind his back and began speaking once more.

"Years before I could even walk, and long before I ever became a shinobi or attended the Academy... Three local ninja became legends.

"They fought against a man twice their size and equally just a powerful. He was called Hanzo and hailed from the Rain village. They were called Tsunade, Jiraiya and Orochimaru and as we all very well know, they hailed from Leaf.

"As a reward for their victory, Hanzo dubbed the trio the Sanin. He told them the only way he would allow them peace is if they accepted this title from there on out." Minato briefly looked down at the group before one again addressing the crowd.

"Today, we bear witness to a similar group. They fought against impossible odds, defeated impossible foes, and returned to our village. Their story is not one which can be written into the history books for years to come. But, one day, when your grandchildren are young," he paused, grinning at what he was to say next, "they will read of the legendary group known as The Trinity of Konoha. They will spin tales and mimic what they have been told while they play.

"Know that, while their deeds, their duty, what they have given us might not been known for several generations, you are all to give them the same respect you so give the Sanin. People of Konoha," he said loudly while indicating to the three a few steps below him, "I give you your Trinity!"

Shouts Sakura was not expecting, came out from all corners, all areas. Some people smiled, others looked confused, some appeared to ask questions to their friend about what it could be that she, Sasuke and Naruto had done that had remain secretive.

She was overwhelmed, but happy all the same. She surprised Minato had done this. He knew how important it was for the time, that way they had done not become public knowledge; yet... he was going to give them a title, one that they were entitled to receive one day if Madara's predictions were true.

She couldn't help but grin as Naruto soaked the attention up. He laughed, smiled and wove out into the crowds. She felt a nudge next to her and looked over at Sasuke, who was smirking.

"He's such an idiot," the Uchiha muttered.

Sakura kept grinning as she nudged him back and winked. "Ah, yes, but he's our idiot."

Sasuke chuckled and she laughed with him. She would have liked to stand there all day long with him as they both soaked up the attention, acting as though they weren't. However... there was still one more thing to do...

Oh yeah... a wedding.


"Do you, Haruno Sakura, take Hatake Kakashi to be your lawfully wedded husband? To protect, to nurture, to love, through sickness and in health, through good times and bad? Do you promise to be with him always, stand with him in all that he does, and do you vow to treat him as equally as you yourself wish to be treated equally?"

Sakura, through the slits in her mask, smiled as she looked from Minato to Kakashi and squeezed his hand. "I vow all you have spoken, Hokage-sama."

Minato turned to Kakashi, smiling softly. "Do you, Hatake Kakashi, take Haruno Sakura to be your lawfully wedded wife? To protect, to nurture, to love, through sickness and in health, through good times and bad? Do you promise to be with her always, stand with her in all that she does, and do you vow to treat her as equally as you yourself wish to be treated equally?"

He too looked over at Sakura, smiling as he looked at her through the slits in his mask. He squeezed back. "I vow all you have spoken, Hokage-sama."

"Then, by the power vested in me, as Hokage and as witness to these services, I now pronounce you husband... and wife." He gestured to the both. "You may now kiss."

Turning to one another and pulling their masks up to set atop their heads, Kakashi and Sakura reached for one another. They embraced and at the moment their lips touched, a shout shot up from the crowd.

-The End-

...or is it?











Sasuke watched as the crowds disbursed, as the ANBU left one by one and as Sakura and Kakashi flitted out of sight to be alone with one another over the rooftops of Konoha. And he suddenly...

...felt alone.

Naruto had long left with a group of friends to later meet with the married couple at Yin's to celebrate. He'd been invited to go, expressed that he would join them later, but for now... he enjoyed the silence and the solitude.

Still... at the back or his mind and within the beating of his chest... he ached. Watching Sakura today... watching her get married and giving her away... had torn through him. Not because he loved her as he once did, but because he envied her.

Silence... was so deafening.

It was almost like watching a newly painted canvas as someone splashed water onto it's surface, the colors fading away and trickling down to leave a blank slate.

"Tabula Rasa..." he heard someone say.

He turned to looked as a familiar old man no taller than to his mid thigh came into view. He smiled up at Sasuke. "It means blank slate in Latin... didn't you know?"

Sasuke sighed. "What do you want, Eon?"

Eon grinned in that telltale way he always did. "I have another mission for you."

Sasuke arched a brow. "Again?" He pursed his lips. "What about Sakura and Naruto?"

Eon shook his head. "Just you, Sasuke... this is about your future... not theirs."

-Ok, seriously... THE END!-