A Small, Yet Tender Flame

She opens her eyes slowly in the pre-dawn hours. Only the faintest of light filters in through the curtains. She turns into Sasuke's chest—my lord, my savior, she thinks in a moment of weakness—and his arm tightens around her waist. Her heart flutters at such a simple response. She doesn't think that she will ever grow tired of this. She does not think that she will ever grow tired of waking at his side, with their limbs entwined.

She dreads the days.

He seems to prefer it when she stays in their room, and it is a mutual feeling. The atmosphere in the palace has been too tense, to thick, since her father broke the pact. She wishes that she had known the man whom her eldest sister was to marry then she would have been able to warn Sasuke about what her father had been planning.

His family is and isn't what she was expecting. She only ever watches them as an outsider, almost never interacting. His mother, Mikoto-san, is warm and caring except for when she looks at Sakura. She sees a lot in the graceful matriarch what she always wanted to see in her own mother, and her heart aches just a little bit. She wishes that she could earn that love.

His father reminds her a bit of her husband. He is cold, unapproachable, and full of expectation, yet she suspects that there is a kindness to him that only Mikoto knows of. She thinks it is not something he shows his sons—considering how they are—and she hopes it is not something that Sasuke will inherit. His brother is a detached sort of person and he watches everything with a strange expression, as if the world is a joke that only he is privy to. She wonders how heavy the burdens are, to be heir to the Uchiha. She doubts that the stress, the lines that are etched into his handsome face, will ever fade. There is a dynamic between Sasuke and Itachi-san that she doesn't understand, like so many things about this household, but when she sees them interact it gives her hope.

Then there is Naruto.

Everything about Naruto is too much. He is impossibly bright, loud, and overbearing. He is the son of the most unlikely couple. A mother that is the most renowned throughout for her gift as a healer almost as much as her callous bedside manner, and a father that is legendary for his seduction techniques and his records of said conquests. She has heard stories that Naruto's home life is far from quiet, but she finds that she is not quite sure what to make of him. Maybe it is because he reminds her a bit of home, of light and laughter, but only when she sees this man she knows that there is also love in his actions.

He is one of the few people besides her husband that make her feel welcome, even if she is not quite certain what to make of him.

Still, he makes her laugh and when he is around she sees a side of her husband that she would not see otherwise. They treat each other with a rough sort of comradery, something she doesn't quite understand. But Naruto is not the type to just let her sit idly by when he visits with Sasuke, and there are some times when she is quite certain that she sees the faintest stirring of jealousy in his obsidian orbs.

Oddly enough it makes her happy.


Her limbs tremble as she tries to keep herself upright as she empties the last contents of her stomach into the basin. She is getting rather tired of this morning illness, the nausea that forces her to leave the bed on most mornings before even Sasuke is up. Grabbing a nearby cloth, she wipes the last of it from the corner of her mouth before reaching for the pitcher, and washing the last of the acidic taste from her throat. She grimaces as she spits into the basin. Sakura has a suspicion as to the source of this sudden, constant sickness but she doesn't dare give voice to it. She doesn't think she can bare it if she is wrong.

A flickering of light catches her attention, and before she can chastise herself from not being quieter his hand is tangled in her long pink hair and a solid chest is at her back. The silk of his sleeping robe falls over her skin as he wraps an arm around her waist.

"Are you finished?"

She lets her head fall back to rest on his chest, her strength gone, and she nods. Leaning back she looks up at him, his eyes are narrowed in a way that looks like it might be concern. It isn't an emotion that she is really used to, she doesn't remember ever encountering it before. He pulls her up, but she doesn't let him gather her into his arms.

"I can walk." It probably doesn't sound too convincing with the way it comes out in a gasp, but he doesn't say anything and just uses his arm to steady her as he guides her back to their bed.

Sasuke surprises her by crawling into bed next to her after dousing the candle. He wraps an arm around her and tangles her legs with his. A brief stirring of longing fills her at the touch of the hard muscle, but the lull of his heartbeat is stronger. It is only when he brushes aside her hair that she is able to concentrate long enough to realize that he is asking her a question.

"It's been three weeks since you started waking up like this, Sakura. Are you sure you're not sick? You need to—"

It is strange, she thinks. This closeness is a curious thing. It seems as if he touches her whenever he has the chance. Sometimes she wonders if it is just from lust, but sometimes she finds that she doesn't care. There are times when he treats her tenderly and that is really all that matters. Before she never would have dared to interrupt him.

"It's fine, Sasuke-sama." She bites her lip to hide her smile at his grunt of protest. It was the honorific that he didn't care for, and she saved it for when he was being particularly…annoying. "Tsunade-sama will be visiting later."

He doesn't push the matter even though she can sense that he isn't completely satisfied with her answer. He allows her to press herself closer to him, her arm draped over his waist. It is winter now and she is still not quite used to the cold.


Tsunade-sama, she finds, is surprisingly youthful despite the fact that she is supposed to be older then Fugaku-sama. Sakura has a feeling that the healer sees more than she reveals, and something about her hints at great strength. Her amber eyes are narrowed as she listens to Sakura explain her symptoms. The young woman tenses when Sasuke's mother enters the room. The healer takes note of that, her expression sharpening into one of wry amusement as she checks Sakura's pulse.

When she speaks she does not address Sakura, instead speaking to Mikoto-sama, and the young woman has to bite her lip from saying anything. Mikoto is the last person she wants to hate her, but it seems that no matter how respectful she is the older woman treats her with something that is just a hair's breadth away from being distain.

"It looks like it's just regular morning sickness, Mikoto." The casual way the healer speaks the woman's name surprises Sakura. When those thoughtful amber eyes turn her way she finds herself sitting up just a little bit straighter although she isn't sure why. "I'll send Naruto up later with some herbs that will help with the nausea. Send word for me if it gets too bad." Tsunade places a gentle hand on Sakura's and smiles softly. "Congratulations." This, it becomes apparent, is said both to her and Mikoto. "It looks like you finally got those grandchildren."


When he comes to her that night she loses herself in the sensations.

She cries out as her muscles clench around his length, losing herself in the sensations as he nips on her lower lip before his groan brushes harshly against her cheek. Her eyes flutter shut, it is one of those nights when the stress has been too much for her, and his arms wrap around her to pull her close. Her head rests on the taunt muscle of his chest, the steady thump of his heart more potent than any sleeping draught. He is taking more care than usual to see that she is securely wrapped in the blankets and she knows that he worries for the weariness and signs of sickness that she has been showing lately.

Sakura gives him a soft, sleepy smile before lightly touching his wrist and guiding it so that it rests on her still flat stomach.

The confusion that she senses from him just moment before she drifts causes her to slide her free arm along his bare waist. She sighs contently and slips into dreams of sugared almost, blue knit socks, pink dresses of lace, soft wisps of raven hair, and green eyes that are too bright to be real. She hears giggles and laughter, and with the dreams—and the hope that they bring—she is content.

Yes, I made Tsunade and Jiraiya Naruto's parents. There is a reason this is an AU. ;P