Author's Note: When I first decided that I wanted to write a Naruto fanfiction, I was still fairly new to the series. It was near the end of 2010, almost a year ago from the time of rewriting this chapter, and I had only just started the second season of Naruto. Everything beyond that point in the series, I only knew because I'd read spoilers on the internet.
So, needless to say my grasp of certain characters was shallow at best, and since at that point I hadn't wrote much of anything in several months, my writing was really rusty. That's why I've decided to rewrite the first few chapters. In terms of the storyline, no drastic changes are going to be made, so no one who read the first version HAS to read this second draft, but they can if they like. And to anyone just checking out my story now, hopefully this version is better than the one I had before and you enjoy the story.
Disclaimer: This will be my one and only disclaimer, and will apply to all future chapters of this fanfiction. Yes, fanfiction – I don't own Naruto or any of its characters. Frankly, if I did, Sasuke's future would look much brighter by now since he's my favourite character.
Pairing Warning: If you're expecting Sasuke and Sakura to get together by chapter five (…or twenty) you're going to be disappointed. I prefer writing the journey to writing the actual relationship, because personally that's what I prefer to read. That said, there will still be lots of cute fluffy moments along the way once things get rolling. So if you really want to read this story, just trust that I know what I'm doing. If there's a time when Sakura seems closer to a male character other than Sasuke, it does not mean that suddenly in the middle of the story I'm going to change the pairing. This story is, and always will be, a SasuSaku fanfiction. I'm only saying this in advance so that if, down the road, people are getting a little outraged at this or that, I can point them to this warning. I know we can sometimes get a little passionate about the things we love. ;)
Inner Sakura in this story isn't a separate mentality or whatever it's supposed to be in the anime/manga (just from the chunin exam match against Ino) – it's generally just Sakura's imagination of herself when she's frustrated or angry. It's also the evil voice in the back of her head that likes to pipe up and state things she's trying to pretend not to notice, or contradicting what she thinks she believes. You probably won't see it often, and she certainly won't be conversing with it, but I'll throw it in whenever it feels right.
A Girl Named Blessed
CHAPTER ONE: Sasuke Uchiha
The day Sakura Haruno's letter from Konoha Academy arrived in the mail was one of the best days of her life. For as long as she could remember it had been a dream of hers to attend the academy, where only the very smart, the very talented, or very rich students were accepted. It was the pride of their town, where the brilliant minds and important people of the future were born – and even as a young child, Sakura had always been ambitious.
Yet as she'd read the words 'accepted' and 'outstanding test scores,' in her letter, the joy she felt was bittersweet. Becoming a student would mean moving in to the academy dorms – and leaving behind her home on the outskirts of Konoha. It wasn't as though she wouldn't get to take her dog Ulysses for a walk, bake chocolate chip cookies with her mom (a tradition that she would never be too old for) or play board games with her dad again – but it just wouldn't be the same.
Her parents had mixed reactions about Sakura changing schools. Her father had planted a kiss on top of her head and told her how proud he was, while her mother stood quietly at the sink holding a dirty dish in her hand. At the time, Sakura hadn't given it much thought, but as the reality began to sink in that she would be going to one of the top schools in the country and the excitement slowly began to die down, she found herself wondering why her mother hadn't once acknowledged the letter.
Several weeks passed until finally it was the night before Sakura had to leave for the academy. As she walked around her bedroom looking for any odds and ends that she may have forgotten to pack, she heard a knock at her door.
"Come in," Sakura called out, opening her desk drawers. Rifling through the notes and old school assignments, she turned to see her mother standing in the doorway.
"Do you think you're ready for tomorrow?" Sakura's mother asked quietly.
Sakura dropped the essay she had been holding, mouth open. After a few moments she cleared her throat and nodded. "Yeah, I think so."
The two awkwardly stood in silence, neither sure of what to say. The topic of Sakura's leaving hadn't come up between the two of them until now. Whenever Sakura or her father had brought it up, her mother had excused herself from the room.
"Good," Sakura's mother said finally, straightening her posture. "You should get some sleep, you've got a big day tomorrow."
As her mother moved to leave, Sakura found her voice. "Why aren't you happier for me? You were the one that encouraged me to work hard so that I could someday get into this school. Now that I have, you've been ignoring it completely."
Sakura's mother turned around, a pained look in her eyes. "I am happy for you, sweetheart, more than you know. I love you, with all of my heart. No matter what, don't ever forget that." This time when the older woman walked away, Sakura didn't try to stop her.
It wasn't until several minutes had passed that Sakura got over her confusion at her mother's strange behaviour. Sitting cross-legged on her bed, Sakura grabbed the photo of her family from her bedside table and stared at their happy faces.
"I love you too, mom."
The rolling hills of the country side slowly became less and less as the bus neared the city. Staring out the glass, Sakura took little notice of her surroundings, lost in her own thoughts. In just a short while, they would reach the front gates to Konoha Academy, and a new chapter in the life of Sakura Haruno would begin.
Sighing, Sakura sank down into her seat. She was the only passenger on the bus, and the only noise that could be heard was the obnoxious blaring of the radio. Tuning it out, she found herself wondering what it would really be like at the academy. Would she make friends? She hadn't left many behind, and those friends were really just polite classmates and lab partners that thought she was nice.
The sun was setting when the bus finally slowed to a stop in front of Konoha Academy. Sakura grabbed her bags, grateful that her large suitcase had wheels. The other bag she held on to with her left arm as she made her way up the aisle and off of the bus.
Walking through the open gate, Sakura felt the once slumbering butterflies in her stomach take flight. The pale stone walkway stretched on for what felt like forever, lined by the trees that were her namesake. Apart from Sakura, the front of the academy was deserted. Dragging her suitcase behind her, she made her way up to the entrance and pushed the door open. Her skin was met with the cool air of the school's AC, a refreshing change from the humidity she'd just stepped out of.
The woman sitting at the information desk looked up, grimacing as Sakura's suitcase rolled loudly across the tile floor. "Can I help you?"
"I hope so," Sakura replied, smiling. "I'm Sakura Haruno and I'm new to the academy. I think I'm supposed to get my dorm key and class schedule from you."
"Do you have your letter?"
Sakura reached into the side pocket of her bag and handed the letter over. The older woman glanced over it briefly before typing something into the computer.
"Do you have a map of the school I could use?" Sakura asked.
The secretary pointed at a large map posted on the wall to the right. Sakura murmured a 'thank you' before walking over to the map. Her eyes widened as the realization of just how big the academy was finally hit her. The building was designed in a typical square shape with the center housing an outdoor courtyard. The front of the school consisted of faculty offices and student resources like the pool and gymnasium, while the back of the building was mostly classrooms. And that was only the first floor.
Sighing, Sakura tried to memorize the route to the dorms. The girls dorm building was located to the back right of the school grounds. She could get to it by cutting through the courtyard and following the main path on the other side. If she didn't take any detours it should be easy enough.
Sakura jumped as she felt a hand settle on her shoulder.
"Miss Haruno? I've got your key and schedule."
"Oh, thanks." Sakura tucked the key into her pants pocket and slipped her schedule into her bag.
Silently reciting the directions to the girl's dormitory, Sakura grabbed her things and made her way out the double doors by the information desk and through the courtyard. Blissfully, she found herself thinking of the warm, cozy bed waiting in her dorm. The long bus ride had exhausted her, and the hair sticking to the back of her neck made her feel gross.
At least there doesn't seem to be anyone around to notice me, Sakura thought absentmindedly. I probably look like a hag.
The thought had no sooner left Sakura's mind when she suddenly felt herself smack into someone. She was just about to curse whoever it was for coming out of nowhere when she noticed who it was she'd bumped into.
A tall, well-built guy with black hair spiked at the back stared down at her through thick lashes, his onyx eyes narrowed slightly as his bangs fell across his face. If he hadn't been standing directly in front of her, Sakura would have had a hard time seeing him at all in the dimly lit courtyard with his dark hair and dark clothes.
Realizing that she was staring, Sakura swallowed nervously before putting on what she hoped was an apologetic smile. "I'm so sorry! You must think I'm a total klutz. I wasn't really paying attention to where I – hey!" Sakura frowned. The guy had walked brushed past her like she wasn't even there, and when she turned around to give him a piece of her mind, she saw that the courtyard was empty again.
He couldn't have gotten inside already. He was only out of my sight for a couple of seconds. What did he do, run to try and escape me?
"What a jerk," Sakura muttered, drawing her eyebrows together. She took a few steps forward before looking around the courtyard again, biting her lip. Then again, with a face like that, he can be as rude as he wants. Warmth flooded her cheeks at the unwelcome thought. The sooner she forgot about him, the better.
Yet even as she told herself that was what she should do, Sakura couldn't help replaying the encounter with him in her head.
Sakura double checked the brass number on the door ahead of her before raising her hand to knock. There was shuffling from the other side until finally the clicking sound of the lock was heard and the door swung open, revealing the confused and tired face of a blonde-haired girl.
"Uh, yeah? What do you want?" The girl asked, leaning against the door frame.
Clearing her throat, Sakura held up her dorm key between her fingers. "I think I'm your new roommate. I would have just let myself in, but I didn't want to freak you out."
The blonde yawned, stretching her arms above her head as she stepped aside. "They said I might have to share a room with someone this year. Guess that means you're fresh meat, huh? I'm Ino, by the way."
Sakura grabbed her things off the floor and brought them into the room, closing the door behind her. "I'm Sakura, and I guess I am. I mean, I've never attended this school before. Have you been a student here for very long?"
"I guess that's your half of the room there," Ino commented, waving at the other side as she sat down on one of the beds. "I've been a student here for three years – this'll be my fourth. You must be here on scholarship, right?"
Sakura froze for a moment before regaining her composure and continuing to unpack. "Uh, yeah. Is it that obvious?"
Ino shrugged, picking up a magazine that was lying open beside her on the mattress. "We don't really get a lot of new students here. Most of us have been enrolled since the sixth grade, so the only time we seem to get a new face is when the school board decides to give out scholarships."
"O-oh, I see." Sakura fumbled with the zipper on her suitcase. The school didn't give out many scholarships, a fact she had constantly been reminded of over the years. Why hadn't she realized she would stand out? At her old school it had been her pink hair and at the academy, it'd be the pink hair and the charity case nerd.
Ino laughed suddenly, a small tilted grin on her face. "Don't worry, Sakura. Nobody's going to care how you got here. We all deserve to be, for one reason or another, and that's all that matters. The students here aren't as uptight as people like to make us out to be."
Sakura smiled. "You guys do have a bit of a reputation."
"Oh trust me, I know. So what do you think of the place so far?"
The image of the dark haired guy from before entered her mind unbidden. Ignoring the warmth spreading through her cheeks, Sakura opened the dresser on her side and began putting away her clothes. "It's beautiful here, but I feel like it's going to take me months to get used to where everything is. Our room alone was a nightmare to find, for a while I actually started wondering if the secretary had given me the wrong key. I mean, why would our room be on the top floor in between 402 and 406?"
"She can be kind of a witch, so I wouldn't have put it past her," Ino said casually, flipping through her magazine. "I'm not really sure why our room was numbered so weird. At first I thought someone just switched the first numbers around, but there's no room between 202 and 206 on the second floor. Kind of creepy, don't you think?"
"Totally," Sakura agreed. With the last of her clothes put away, Sakura put the photo of her parents on the dresser beside her bed for the finishing touch.
"So am I the first person you've met? Other than the secretary, I mean."
Sakura, who had just sat on her bed, began fidgeting with the blanket. "Officially, or… unofficially?"
"Both," Ino drawled, raising an eyebrow.
Sakura took a deep breath. "I… kind of walked into someone earlier. In the courtyard." A very gorgeous someone! Inner Sakura swooned.
"A male someone, by chance?" Ino asked slyly, a teasing grin already forming. When Sakura nodded, the grin on the other girl's face grew larger. "Tell me about him!" Ino demanded.
"There's really not a lot to say, he didn't… he didn't really say anything. Or acknowledge me at all. He just sort of stood there, staring at me. When I finally remembered how to talk, I tried to apologize but he just left, and he was completely out of sight before I even realized it. I should be annoyed," Sakura added, frowning. "And I am. But... he was kind of dreamy." Sighing, Sakura fell back on her bed and looked up at the ceiling. Dreamy sounded so lame, but she didn't know how else to describe him. He was like something out of a dream – other than the being rude bit.
When Ino didn't say anything, Sakura sat back up and looked over at her roommate. "Something wrong?" Sakura asked.
"What did he look like? Your dreamy guy, I mean."
"Dark," Sakura said slowly, watching Ino's expression carefully. "His eyes, his hair, even his clothes. He was just so… intense."
"Hair spiked up at the back? Eyes black as night?" Ino questioned, straightening her posture.
Sakura nodded and watched as Ino looked away. "Is… something wrong?"
Ino didn't say anything at first, choosing instead to put her magazine away in a drawer. After a few minutes had passed, she finally looked at Sakura again. "That's Sasuke Uchiha. He's pretty popular around here. I can probably count on one hand how many girls don't like him."
"Oh." I've got a bad feeling… "So, do you…?"
"Yeah," Ino said quietly. "I do."
The two girls fell silent then; neither of them knew what to say. Sakura wanted to assure Ino that she thought Sasuke was a total jerk who wasn't worth her time, but something made her hold back. She couldn't deny that there was something appealing about him, and it wasn't just his appearance (although it certainly helped).
When Ino reached over to turn off the lamp beside her bed, Sakura knew she had lost her chance to reassure the blonde. Sighing, she turned off her own lamp and curled up in her bed. It's going to be an interesting year, alright.
Author's Note: There you have it, the new and much improved first chapter! For anyone just discovering this now, if you notice a shift in the next few chapters in my writing, bear with me; I'm hoping to get at least the rough ones fixed up before posting the new chapter, so hopefully it'll be a smooth transition from chapter to chapter, but I also don't want to delay chapter eleven (the chapter I'm working on next) for too long. Just look at the end of the first author's note - if there's no "This chapter has been revised" note, it hasn't been revised.
One of the things I tried to do with the revision of this chapter was make Sakura a little less annoying. When I first started this story, she was meant to be annoying since it was supposed to kind of parallel the beginning of the anime when she first gets teamed up with Sasuke and she doesn't really know the first thing about him. And she's kind of shallow, because she's still young and naïve. Right now, despite her character being older, she's pretty much in the same boat. She hasn't had much experience with friends or guys since she's been so focused on her studies. So, to a certain degree, she'll still be a little annoying, but I toned it down this chapter since it felt a bit extreme and unnecessary in the original version. But when you do see it a little more in future chapters, know that it's intentional and she's going to grow out of it. It's just part of her character's development in this story!