The first time a little girl sees a wedding, her new life's dream instantly becomes to someday walk down the aisle in a dress that pretty, to music so fitting, and to a groom with such loving eyes.
The first time a little girl watches the bride and groom read their vows, smile at each other for a split-second, and then lean into their first kiss as a married couple, she sees love for the first time and hopes one day she'll get to feel love like that.
The first time a little girl meets her first crush, she knows the little boy she adores so much is the one she wants to walk down the aisle to meet. She wants to be by his side, take care of him, and watch that strange concept of 'love' grow between them, weak and tiny at first, but getting stronger and brighter every day.
They go to school together. They're classmates at first, because boys are icky, and girls have cooties. Then, by some strange twist of fate, their fourth grade teacher sits them next to each other. Eventually, they become friends. They become best friends. In eighth grade they realize they aren't just best friends, they're more. They date in high school. They win Prom King and Prom Queen. They graduate together. They go to the best university in the country together. They graduate. And then they get married, because they're high school sweethearts, and that's what high school sweethearts do.
They live happily ever after.
This is every little girl's dream about love. This is how they want their true love story to unfold, perfect page after perfect page. It might get more elaborate – they might honeymoon in Hawaii or Paris. Her wedding cake might have white chocolate curls decorating the five-tiers of dessert love. They might travel the world together, or find a way to eat takeout every night and still stay in perfect shape.
But, details aside, this is every little girl's true love dream. This is how they want their love to happen, because it's beautiful and perfect and she knows she'll be the happiest woman alive if it happens.
Sakura Haruno is no exception.
Sakura is seven years old when she sees her first wedding. Predictably, she falls in love with the concept of love. She starts planning out her love story, outlining the major points at first, and then filling in the small details.
And, like every other little girl like her, she wants it so badly to come true.
"Ino, I can't zip up my dress. Oh my FUCKING God, I can't. zip. up. my. dress." Sakura stared in wide-eyed dismay at her reflection in the mirror, slender hands grasping at the zipper at her lower back, cleverly hidden among thin layers of silky white fabric.
Ino Yamanaka, only half-finished putting on her eyeshadow, sighed. "Sakura, breathe," she reminded her best friend, dabbing some sparkly silver shadow at the corner of her eyes. "It's okay, you know that you always need someone to zipper your dress for you."
Standing up, Ino patted her bright blonde up-do, making sure no stray curls had fallen out of the bun in her hair. She tugged on the zipper on Sakura's dress, easily pulling it up all the way. Stepping away, Ino surveyed her with a smile.
Sakura's dress really was wonderful – almost as wonderful as the girl inside it. It was beautiful, the perfect shade of ivory with an elegantly beaded bodice and poofy skirt. The skirt had sophisticated bunches near the bottom, but instead of just being knots, they were fashioned into perfect silk flowers, roses to be precise. It was gorgeous. It was a thousand dollars. It was Sakura's dream dress, and Sakura was finally going to get married in it.
"Aww, Sakura you look great!"
Tenten grinned as she bounded into the dressing room. "I mean it!" She was still fastening an earring in and pulling on a heel, but for once in her life Tenten was early. She smoothed out her pastel pink bridesmaid dress and undid her messy braids, twisting them up into twin buns on her head. "How much longer do we have?" she asked, shaking a bottle of hairspray.
Ino glanced at her iPhone. "An hour. Where the hell is Hinata?" she asked, taking the hairspray from Tenten and giving the brunette's buns a healthy mist of hair product.
Sakura cursed under her breath. How was she supposed to get married without her third best friend there? "She better get here in 30 seconds before I flip shit," Sakura said through clenched teeth. "If she's making out with Naruto or something, I'm going to kill someone."
Ino set down her eyeshadow and applied a few strokes of blush to her cheeks. "Hina isn't the type of person to be late. Something must really be holding her—"
"I'm here, I'm here! Sorry!" a blur of pale skin and plum colored hair apologized in a velvet-soft voice as she flung her purse in front of the mirror next to Ino. She dug through her bag and pulled out a pen of liquid eyeliner, some mascara, and pale lipstick before hastily beginning to apply them to her face.
"Where were you?" Tenten asked, voice filled with innuendo. Ino sprayed her in the face with the hairspray. "Eww!"
Hinata chose to ignore her. "Sakura, you look wonderful," she told her, smiling softly.
Sakura twirled in a single circle, making heavy skirt float just a bit off the ground. "You really think so?" she asked, "'Cause I'm SO nervous and I don't even know why because like I love him but augh I think I'm going to miss being a Haruno and—"
"Sakura you look amazing. He's going to pee his pants when he sees you," Tenten told her reassuringly. "Trust me."
Sakura leaned up against the full-length mirror she had been hyperventilating in front of for the past two hours. "God guys, how did I even get here?" she asked, a silly smile on her face. She plucked at her pearl necklace, green eyes glittering. "It's like I was freakin' seven years old yesterday."
Ino grinned, adjusting her Tiffany Blue maid of honor dress. "That's because this all started when you were seven, Forehead."
About a month after Sakura had attended her first wedding, he transferred.
He was cute. Everyone knew he was cute, even some of the guys, but Sakura knew that in addition to being adorable, he was the one. He was the one she was going to have her true love story with. She might have only been seven, but she just knew it.
He was shy. Understandably, it was his first day though. So, Sakura, being as vocal as a cricket on drugs, decided to be the first to introduce herself to him at lunch – right after the line of other students that had thought the same thing, that is.
She felt little butterflies ricocheting off the walls of her stomach as she approached him. "Hi, I'm Sakura!" she chirped to him, flashing him her cutest, most adorablest, seven year old smile. "Where did ya move from? Why did you come here? Oooh, let's go play on the—"
Her smile faltered. "…what?"
The boy frowned. "No. I'm tired, I hate everyone here, and I just want to go home. No." He scowl deepened, almost turning into a pout.
Sakura decided to try again. "Are you sure? Because they're really fun and you might actually start liking it he—"
She swallowed the lump that was forming in her throat. "O-okay," she whispered, backing away slowly. The smile slipped off her face as she backed away, and once she had retreated ten steps back, she turned around and ran behind the coat racks.
She crouched between everyone's jackets, Barbie pink to dark blue, and blinked back tears of confusion. This wasn't how her true love story was supposed to go. This wasn't how any of it was supposed to go at all.
She ducked behind her own coat – muted green that her mother said brought out her eyes – and began to cry.
They didn't get seated next to each other during the fourth grade, and they didn't become friends. They certainly didn't become best friends in middle school, and they definitely didn't wake up one day in eighth grade to realize that they loved each other.
In high school, they had a few classes together, but their schedules didn't match perfectly. He wasn't the football player to her cheerleader, and they didn't fulfill the 'lab partner cliché'.
He went to prom, and he did win Prom King, but he went with the resident whore of the 12th grade, and the whore had won Prom Queen, opposite of him. They graduated together, but the most they had said to each other was a stiff "congrats" to one another, before parting to meet up and cry with their separate groups of friends.
They were never high school sweethearts.
But they did go to the same college, even if it wasn't the best university in the country. They did both major in science, her in biology, and him in chemistry. They did both decide to attend the graduate school, and their separate schools did collaborate once on a research project.
They didn't hold each other's hands through college, and they didn't receive their medical degrees together as co-valedictorians (or something as equally cheesy).
For twenty-three years, they did not need each other. They weren't each other's air, and they didn't laugh or kiss or smile with each other.
It was safe to say that Sakura's childhood dream of having her perfect true love story was crushed. It was stomped upon, it was dead, and it was forgotten by age twelve anyway, so it didn't really matter.
But in it's own, strange method, magic happened anyway.
She was never a so-called "party animal". Sakura liked to have control over her own body, and even though alcohol was legal for her, she preferred not to drink it. But it was November, and it was cold, and it was Lee's birthday, so why not let Ino drag her to a silly party just this once?
The party was held at Tenten's house, and even though Sakura knew Tenten's house by heart, she was still bored out of her mind. Despite the fact that there were hundreds of people crammed into Tenten's residence, there was no one to talk to. Tenten had greeted them, and then promptly disappeared into a bedroom with Neji. Ino vanished within five seconds, sucking down a Bloody Mary before hitting the dance floor. Hinata was smart and she didn't attend stupid get-drunk-and-grind parties like this.
She hated get-drunk-and-grind parties, and she refused to partake in the grind part of the get-drunk-and-grind party. Thus, Sakura, her hair in fabulous rose-colored waves, was left to sit alone at the bar counter of Tenten's basement in her too-short skirt and pretty boots, with a mad party raging on in front of her.
"If you're going to sit here, at least drink."
Sakura looked up and her perfectly plucked eyebrows shot upwards. It was him, Mr. Crush-My-Childhood-Dream. "Fancy seeing you here," she said. It was probably the longest sentence she had said to him since the second grade.
"I didn't peg you as one of the party people," he responded, taking a seat next to her at the bar. He looked at the bartender Tenten had hired for the night, and waved him over. "A beer, thanks," he ordered. The corners of his lips just barely moved upwards when he popped the cap off.
Sakura shrugged. "I'm not, but it's Lee's birthday, so I came," she explained, turning away from him and watching the people on the dance floor move together. "I didn't peg you as a drinker OR a partier."
He mimicked her and shrugged. "It's Lee's birthday," he said dryly.
"You hate Lee."
"I was forced to come."
Sakura laughed slightly. "So the truth comes out." She looked at him for a second, flashed a brief smile of pearly white teeth, and then returned her attention to the dancing blob in front of her. Where was Ino…?
He looked at her for a moment. "You know, if you're going to sit here, at least drink," he told her, reiterating his words from before. "At least it'll pass the time."
Sakura grimaced. "I don't like alcohol. I think it tastes bad," she informed him. She glanced at him, and noticed him looking at her. She fidgeted.
"That just means you haven't tried the right drinks," he told her. "I bet you've never tried flavored vodka. It makes everything better."
She spared him one bored stare.
He stood up and let out a whisper-quiet sigh. "I guess I have no choice but to show you," he told her, marching over to the segment of the counter that lifted up, letting himself inside the bar. He ignored the bartender's cry of "Hey!" and gathered all of the vodka bottles into his arms, setting them on the bar top one by one.
He unscrewed the cap of one bottle, and Sakura smelled the pungent odor of alcohol-laced apples. He poured a small amount into a cup and handed it to her. "Drink."
She frowned. "No, I told you—"
"I really don't drink, y'kn—"
"…fine," Sakura huffed, taking the cup and taking a single sip. "I told you I wouldn't like it, it – ooh, my stomach is pleasantly warm now!" she cooed, licking her lips and taking another sip. "I have to hand it to you, this is some good shit," she said, smiling and cradling her cup between both of her hands.
"Told you. Now try this…"
They mixed drinks for each other, and no matter how bad they tasted, they would drink them anyway. After two cups of very strong alcohol, Sakura began to notice how hot a cute little boy like him had grown up to be. Four cups later, she found herself giggling and flirting uncontrollably. Six cups had her throwing up, with him holding back her hair. She rinsed out her mouth with Listerine and they went back to the bar. He was holding her hand.
Eight cups later, they were kissing like the drunken fools they were and they were both trying to see who could get to the bedroom first.
When she woke up, it felt like her head was going to explode. She felt the urge to vomit again, and she was thirsty. She also had a test the next day. But these were trivial matters, because—
He wasn't there.
Life was a bitch.
He never called.
She saw him two months later when their colleges decided to collaborate once more for a research project. It was a long project, and it was going to last for the rest of the year.
Sakura refused to talk to him.
It was three months into the project when he cornered her in the laboratory.
"Move, I want to go back home. I'm tired," Sakura growled, trying to push past him. All of the other people on their research team were already out the door, stretching and eager to get home.
"No. Not until you tell me what's wrong," he said to her, blocking her way out. She was trapped between a wall and a table. Sakura cursed the architect in charge of designing the building, and the bimbo who arranged the furniture in their lab.
"What's wrong is that I'm tired as fuck, I want to go home, and you aren't letting me," Sakura snapped at him. "Move!" She tried to duck past him. She failed.
He caught her face between his hands. "What's wrong?" he asked again, this time not as happily.
Sakura clenched her teeth and crossed her arms across her lab coat. "What's wrong is that you're an asshole. You were gone when I woke up. You made me a one-night stand," she spat angrily.
His eyes softened, and he released her face, his arms dropping limply to his sides. "I left because I thought you'd hate me."
"Wh-what?" she asked, faltering, green eyes widening.
"Sakura, you've always hated me, ever since we were seven years old and I was a brat to you," he shrugged. "I though if you saw me next to you that morning, you'd hate me even more, so I just…left."
All of the anger that had manifested itself in her for the past five months vanished.
"You're so dumb," Sakura said to him, incredulously. Then she started giggling. "I've always liked you, stupid. You just never noticed." She tilted her head and shook pink locks away from her face. She grinned.
And then, without the buzz of alcohol, or the raging party, or the bad rap music, or the cranky bartender, he kissed her.
She smiled into his lips, and finally, finally saw her true love story start to bloom.
Sakura felt the same butterflies in her stomach as she did when she was seven years old as she waited in hallway, out of sight from the altar. The veil covering her face was tickling her nose, and she was afraid to sneeze.
Her legs were shaking in her heels, and she tried to take deep breaths. They didn't work. At all.
The pianist started playing, and her bridesmaids entered one at a time, each of them beaming at her as they passed. Ino went last, but her smile was the brightest.
The traditional Bridal Chorus started, and Sakura allowed herself to bite her lip once, very softly so she wouldn't mess up her lipstick, before beginning to walk.
She felt everyone staring at her, but she didn't care, because she was going to her groom, her lover, her best friend, her life story.
It was right then that she realized that her dress, her ring, their rehearsal dinner, the bachelor and bachelorette parties, the rose petals in the aisle – none of it was what her childhood dream actually was. All that mattered was her, him, them.
The amount of love in Sasuke's eyes was immeasurable, and Sakura began to smile as she proceeded down the petal-coated aisle, because, even though it had taken twenty-five years, she knew that this was what true love felt like.
This was definitely a two-word-prompt-turned-oneshot. (The prompt was "silk flowers", if you're curious.) Thanks to annieberry for prompting me and then sparking this whole thing. Review, sillyheads! (: