Hello all! Here I am again with Savage Hearts, chapter 13! I hope you enjoy!

Disclaimer: Don't own the Naruto series!

Warnings: Strong language - for real this time! Sakura has a potty mouth

Notes: Thank you all for all the support! We're so near to reaching 100 reviews! I'm so excited XD Once we pass 100, I'll give y'all a special surprise, so look forward to that! [Hint: it involves some heavy SasuNaru smut!]

~ SAVAGE HEARTS – THE END OF A VOW ~

Itachi sighed, raising one of his pale hands to rub the bridge of his nose, hoping that the action would help alleviate some of the pain caused by his stress-induced headache. Not once in his 19 years of life had Itachi ever felt so wholly unprepared to face the challenges that life had decided to throw at him as he did now. Because of this, the Uchiha heir simply did not know how to handle the stress that came with a situation like this – a situation that was not under his complete and utter control from beginning to end – and it was causing him to experience all sorts of adverse side effects. A prime example would be the pounding headache that he was currently suffering from. The pain from this headache was so bad that it might actually top the pain he felt the morning after the disastrous incident that he couldn't remember, aka the events that happened during Iruka Umino's birthday party. Besides the pain, Itachi also found that the stress made him overly irritable and snappish. Two maids had already left the mansion crying due to his surliness and sharp tongue. Worst of all, he often hallucinated – for some reason, it seemed like the walls of his study were somehow creeping in on him, something that made Itachi feel like he was choking on the warm summer air that was filtering in through the open windows.

Giving a displeased grunt, Itachi sent the paperwork he was supposed to be working on flying off of his desk with an angry sweep of his arm (for who really cared whether the gardens in the Uchiha Estate were receiving enough water when he was supposed to get married in a week to a woman he could care less about?). With a loud screech of wood-on-wood, Itachi pushed back his chair enough for him to be able to comfortably slump over onto his imposing mahogany desk. Placing his overly-warm cheek onto the cool wood of the desk, Itachi groaned aloud and covered his head with his arms, wishing nothing more than to be able to hide until this whole thing was in the distant past, nothing but a bad memory. The position (as well as his thoughts) was most undignified, and if it were any other situation, Itachi would never even consider behaving in such a way. However, considering the situation he currently found himself in, even he, the heir to the extremely reserved Uchiha clan, deserved the opportunity to show his displeasure, even if it was just in private.

Besides, Itachi thought, turning his head to rest his other cheek on the desk and sending a tired glance towards the door of his study, No one can see me. The door is locked and I expect no visitors.

No matter how emotionally exhausted he felt, Itachi would never allow anyone to witness his current state of weakness, especially not a servant. The only people who had ever seen him even slightly flustered were his mother, Iruka Umino, and Gaara, Naruto-kun's twin brother. But of course, it would have been hard not to be flustered when he was being told that he had cheated on his beloved Naruto-kun with his cousin of loose morals, the disgustingly pink-haired Haruno-san. At the reminder, Itachi's lip curled into a revolted snarl. He could not remember the incident at all, but Itachi had no doubt that it had been initiated by that faux-lady, Sakura. He had not been blind to the way she had been attempting to throw herself at him since she'd arrived, despite knowing very well that he was engaged to her cousin. Itachi was disgusted not only at her actions, but also at his own – or rather, his lack of action.

If only I had reprimanded her for her inappropriate behavior! Itachi thought desperately, gripping his hair into tight fists, pulling at his own locks in frustration. Perhaps I could have made her forget all about her silly infatuation with me. Then none of this would have ever happened.

Because, if there was one thing Itachi was sure of in this crazy, out-of-control situation, it was that he had not been a willing participant in the entire affair, no matter what any of the witnesses said. He loved Naruto-kun, and he would never willingly betray his little kitsune like that. Besides, why would he cheat on the blond when they were so close to being married? He had been waiting patiently for Naruto-kun for over four years! It had been a daily struggle, seeing as how Naruto-kun was his lustful dream-come-true, but he had managed to curb his desires. If he could do that, Itachi was sure that his control over his libido was absolute. Sakura Haruno, while undeniably attractive, could never tempt him enough to distract him from his love for Naruto-kun.

No, Itachi thought, sitting up straight and fisting his hands in anger, I couldn't have coupled with her willingly. Sakura must have done something to me… I don't know what, he grudgingly admitted, a frustrated glower gracing his face, but I will find out, he vowed, Sharingan eyes glinting fiercely, no matter what!

~ SAVAGE HEARTS – THE END OF A VOW ~

Well… I'm finally here…

Naruto stood before his ancestral home, staring up at the grand building in trepidation. He had made up his mind to come back, and now here he was. It might be a day later than planned (for every time he had neared the door to his apartment yesterday, bag over his shoulder, he had always remembered something that needed to be done – such as scrubbing his toilet), but he was finally here. This morning, with absolutely nothing else to clean, Naruto had had no other choice but to leave the relative safety of his new dwelling and head out towards home. He had made a promise (even if it was only to himself) to come back and help with the planning of the wedding, and he was here to fulfill it. Naruto never went back on a promise, no matter how unpleasant he found it – dattebayo!

For that reason, Naruto had left his apartment in downtown Konoha early this morning and had been on the road all day. It did not usually take so long, but Naruto (wishing to avoid reaching his destination for just a little bit longer) had decided to take the scenic route. It was now a little past midday, and Naruto was sure that the residents of the mansion were currently eating lunch in the formal dining room. The thought of eating lunch made his tummy rumble in hunger. Naruto placed his hand over his stomach, giving it a few gentle pats in order to silence it. He had not eaten breakfast and he was starving, but he did not want to head in to eat. Everyone would be there – everyone. All the servants would most likely look at him with pitying looks, something he couldn't stand, and Sakura would no doubt be there too. Naruto wasn't sure if he was ready to face her just yet. Perhaps it would be wiser to wait and enter later, once he could be sure that lunch was over and all the servants would be busy with their own tasks. He could always pick up something from the kitchen later.

Nodding to himself, Naruto picked up his bag from the floor and shouldered it again. With an exhausted sigh, he headed around the mansion towards the expansive gardens that could be found in the back. Naruto had always had a bit of a green thumb, and being surrounded by the plants he helped to care for always managed to relax him. Hopefully it would work this time too.

Opening the small white gate that surrounded the family's private garden, Naruto laid eyes on his favorite place in the entire mansion. His roaming blue eyes caught sight of a large oak tree. The sight of a small wooden swing hanging underneath one of the large branches caused Naruto's previously tense shoulders to soften and a gentle smile to appear on his face. That swing was his source of comfort growing up. The feeling of swinging back and forth through the air always caused his worries to float away with the breeze. Heading over to it, Naruto placed his bag at the base of the tree and then sat down softly. The wooden planks of the swing were old and Naruto was half-afraid that they would break apart under his weight. Fortunately though, the swing held his weight. Settling back more comfortably, Naruto gripped the ropes that suspended the swing and kicked off with his feet. His smile widened as he swung through the air. Naruto closed his eyes and just allowed himself to float higher with every pump of his legs.

A light, feminine giggle sounded through the air.

Naruto's eyes snapped open, searching wildly for the source of the sound. He hadn't noticed anyone approaching him. Being so out of it was always dangerous, even if he was currently on his own property. "Who's there?" Naruto called out, planting his feet firmly into the ground, bringing the swing to a complete stop.

"Sorry," the light voice said, "I didn't mean to disturb you." A blonde-haired young lady stepped out from behind the shadows of another tree, her pale blue eyes sparkling happily in the bright sunlight. "I just saw you looking so peaceful and cute that I couldn't help but laugh," she said with a bright smile.

Naruto blinked, surprised. Who is this girl? Naruto wondered curiously. He had never seen her before in his life. If she was a new servant, it was strange that she would be bold enough to talk to him like this right off the bat. All the other servants had eventually become used to his friendly ways and interacted freely with him, but only after a long period of Naruto asking them to do so. Besides that, the girl was not dressed like a servant. Her purple dress, while not quite up to a noblewoman's standards, was still made of a finer cloth and had more details and embellishments than those worn by the servants of the mansion. But if she wasn't a servant, who could she be? It was doubtful she was an enemy ninja. While he could detect some chakra in her, Naruto doubted she was strong enough to sneak onto the grounds past all of the guards. Perhaps she was simply an invited guest. But whose guest? She was much too young to be friends with Iruka, and Gaara was pretty much a recluse. That left… Naruto stilled, his hands tightening around the suspension ropes. Was she a friend of Sakura's?

"You didn't answer me," Naruto replied tersely, his own blue eyes narrowing suspiciously. "Who are you?"

The blonde girl bowed. "Sorry," she apologized again, "I'm Ino Yamanaka." She stood up straight and raked her eyes over Naruto's seated form. "And you're Naruto, right? I already you're your brother, Gaara, and he spoke about you. If I didn't know you were twins, I would have never guessed. You look nothing alike!"

Naruto was taken aback by the girl's rapid-fire speech. She talked even more than he did! "Eh, it's nice to meet you, I guess," he said, standing up from his swing in order to shake her hand properly. He blinked at her, trying to find a way to phrase his next question in a manner that didn't sound too rude. "Um, Ino…" he started, biting his lip, "What are you doing here?"

"Oh!" Ino said, blushing slightly. "Am I not supposed to be in here? Is it private? I'm sorry!"

"No, no!" Naruto said, waving his hand in the air to dispel that notion. "It's fine. I guess you can't be expected to know that this is the family's private garden. It's not like there's any signs or anything."

Ino laughed nervously. "I didn't ask, sorry. I just walked out the back door and followed the path…"

Naruto short golden spikes waved gently as he shook his head. "No, it's fine, seriously," he assured her, giving her a small smile. Even if she was Sakura's guest, Ino seemed like a genuinely nice person. It wouldn't hurt to treat her politely. "What I meant to ask was: what are you doing here in the mansion?" Naruto told her, gauging the girl's response. She might seem nice, but so did Sakura at first glance.

Ino nodded, her paler blonde hair glinting in the sunlight. "Ah, I get it," she said, winking one pale blue eye. "Don't worry, I'm not trespassing. I'm here at the request of Iruka-san. I come from a clan of mind specialists, I guess you could say, and our services were required yesterday. Only I was available, so… here I am!"

Naruto was alarmed. "What! A mind specialist? Why were you needed? Did something happen?"

The bright smile on Ino's face dimmed. "Oh, you didn't know?" she asked sheepishly, pulling at the ends of her blonde ponytail nervously. "I'm just messing up all over the place, aren't I?" Placing her hands on her hips, Ino took a deep breath and set her face into a determined stare. "Well, the thing is," she started seriously, "Your cousin Sakura was abducted on her way home from Konoha. She showed up yesterday morning, claiming not to remember what happened. Iruka was understandably worried and sent for our help, to see if we could recover some of her memories."

Naruto bit his lip. He didn't quite know how to react to Ino's grave news. On one hand, he was really, really mad at Sakura, so mad that he wished he was the one who'd kidnapped her and thrashed her around a bit before wiping her memories. On the other, he recognized that she was still his cousin, and a girl. His nindo included the protection of innocents, especially women and children. Anyone who kidnapped a defenseless woman and did who-knows-what to her before wiping her memories of it was despicable. (And yes, he realized what this meant for him, seeing as he wanted to do the same. However, at least he had a reason to do it, unlike whomever it was that had kidnapped her.)

"And, er, is she okay?" Naruto questioned hesitantly. "What did you find out?"

"Nothing!" Ino pouted, twirling a lock of her hair around a dainty finger. Seeing Naruto's questioning look, she hurried to explain, "I haven't had a chance to run a scan yet. Sakura said she wasn't ready to face her missing memories yesterday, and she's managed to avoid me all day today. She even went so far as to take her meals in her room!" Ino complained, her pale blue eyes glaring up at Sakura's window. "I can't help but feel that I'm wasting my time… Luckily, Iruka-san has provided me with a very nice room and has offered to pay me double for the wait!"

Naruto smiled. "That's good, then. Iruka is very considerate. I'm sure he'll convince Sakura to see you soon, if you bring it up to him. Did you have somewhere else to be?"

~ SAVAGE HEARTS – THE END OF A VOW ~

Sakura glared out her window, trying to burn holes into her stupid cousin and that nosy blonde girl with her pale green gaze.

Look at them, she thought, a delicate snarl curling her lip, talking like old friends. They're both stupid busybodies, that's why they get along. Her glare focused on the blonde girl who had introduced herself as Ino yesterday. Stupid bitch. How am I supposed to hide my memories of Sasuke from her freaky mind powers? I can't let anyone know that I slept with him, especially not Itachi. He would jump all over any excuse not to marry me. Sakura snorted indelicately, like he can get out of this. I won't let my future position as Lady Uchiha slip out of my grasp so easily.

Snapping the window's sheer green curtains closed, Sakura stepped away towards her armoire. I had vowed never to use this again, but… She sighed mockingly, her face contorting into a realistic rendition of mixed sadness and regret. Spying her own expression in the mirror, Sakura couldn't hold back a loud cackle. God, I really am a great actress.

Shaking her head, she sat down in the decorative chair placed before the armoire's mirror. Quickly opening one of the drawers, she brought out yet another small, velvet drawstring bag. Unlike the last, this bag didn't contain an aphrodisiac. No, this bag contained an herb mixture that was much more potent than the aphrodisiac she had used to ensnare Itachi Uchiha. Because of its potency, Sakura had used this particular mixture only once before, with disastrous results.

That poor maid, she thought, flipping her long, strawberry-blonde locks behind her shoulder, she was much too young to die. Her pale green eyes narrowed, studying the small velvet bag clutched in her hands intently. I have no choice, though, Sakura thought, worrying her lip. This Ino girl is supposed to go through my memories. I can't allow that to happen. It would be disastrous if she found and blabbed out any of my secrets.

Besides, she thought, drawing herself up and reaffirming her purpose, the maid died because of an overdose. I was not careful enough; I didn't measure the dose well enough. This time will be different. I only need Ino to forget a few hours, not days like the maid.

Sakura's green eyes shined with determination. I will do this. If something happens to her, so be it. My goals are more important than the well-being of some random girl.

~ SAVAGE HEARTS – THE END OF A VOW ~

Review Replies:

Airi1285: Thanks! I'm sorry this update took a little longer… And I can guarantee you'll enjoy Sasuke's reaction ;)

Ani: Thank you!

Rascalchibi: Yeah, I've tried to make the transitions between scenes and chapters clear and yet flowy. Thanks for noticing!

Takuya: Haha, poor Itachi. He hasn't been TOO bad… It was all Sakura's fault!

SoSickOfNyQuil: Have you been reading my notes? XD

NamikazeFan: Soon! Promise! Just keep reading ;)

Jtwsnw20: Thank you so much! I really try to make Naruto spunky and upbeat despite all the horrible things I'm making him go through…

Serenityofthematrix: Yay, you're still here! *blows kisses* It's readers like you that I like writing for!

Mitsuki1313: Sasuke will be back soon, don't you worry! And as for the Sakura-bashing… Well, in this fic she deserves it ;)