Disclaimer: I do NOT own Naruto or any of its characters, that right is reserved for Masashi Kishimoto.
Here it is, the Epilogue exactly 2 years and 11 months in the making! Thank you to everyone who reviewed and pushed me to get this out there for you!
And a special thanks to Juniper 11 for taking the time to beta this for me! ^_^v
Motherhood. It was something Sakura had been thinking about more and more of late. Since the moment Kakashi had walked into the private dining room at Momiji's to be precise.
It was amazing to Sakura how smoothly everything had gone since then. It had already been six months since she had agreed to consider him, but it felt like no time at all. It was true that they had their arguments, but they had also had their way of 'making up.'
The first time Sakura grabbed Kakashi by the scruff of the neck while still panting in rage and kissed him like the world was ending, he had been surprised. He had been even more surprised when she then dragged him into her bedroom and threw him down on the bed. At that point they had only been dating for three weeks- but he hadn't protested.
Their bodies had melded together perfectly and she never found another man more attractive than Kakashi had been as he caressed her skin and told her in a soft and serious voice about all the things he planned to do to her (she hadn't known that some of those things had been possible)! And when he asked her later what had made her decide that the time was right, she had explained that, though they had only been dating for three weeks, they had known each other for thirteen years- if she could trust him so completely with her life, why not her body? He hadn't argued with her, instead, he had smiled and pulled her back down for a life affirming kiss that left her breathless.
A month later he surprised her by being the first to say the words. It had probably been awkward for him, and he looked like he wanted to bite his tongue off after he said it and she didn't immediately reply, but after a solid minute of staring at him she had come out of her stupor and thrown her arms around him. "Gods Kakashi, I love you too… baka…"
She hadn't gone home that night and the next day he commissioned some of the genin to move all of her things from her apartment (under the direction of Ino who was wary of her own things getting thrown in the mix otherwise) to the Hokage residence. He waited for her to come home from work in her empty bedroom. The first thing she noticed when she opened the door had been the open ring box containing a white gold ring engraved with tangled branches of sakura blossoms. She had looked up at him with her mouth hanging open as she finally took in the empty room and his mischievous smirk.
"You will marry me, won't you? I'd really hate to waste all the time and effort those genin put into moving all your stuff to…"
Before he could say anything else to make himself sound like an ass, Sakura launched herself into his arms and kissed him like her life depended on it. Kakashi happily took that as a yes and transported them without delay to their home.
The wedding had, of course, been a huge event to which the entire village had been invited. In the end they held the ceremony in the same arena the chuunin exam had been held in when Sakura was only twelve years old. As the only structure large enough to seat all the people who had wanted to see the event itself, it had been the only real option. The reception had been held there as well for the same reason, but so many people had shown up from all the great nations that the party had spilled out to the training grounds surrounding the structure.
Sakura had not envied the cleanup crew the next morning… But even that event had paled in comparison to today's.
Earlier that morning the first child born as a result of the ballot the jounin had passed the previous year had been placed in Sakura's trembling arms. The girl was not Sakura's, but Yamanaka Shizo's. She had been pregnant when the ballot had passed, but she couldn't bring herself to raise it alone; so now it was up to Sakura and Kakashi to find her a home.
The original thought had been that the children born from such women would be kept in the hospital until they could be found a home, but it just wasn't going to be possible in this case. There were twelve medic trainees from other villages due to arrive for extensive training in the next two weeks, and the hospital was going to be hard pressed to handle the extra time demand they would be making on the staff the way it was. So Sakura had decided that, as both head of the hospital and wife to the Hokage, it was their responsibility to care for the child until they could find her a home. After all, Sakura was only three months along herself, so she wouldn't be completely overwhelmed by babies and it would be good practice for when she and Kakashi had their own.
She hadn't counted on Kakashi's reaction though…
Shizo hadn't wanted to hold the child since it was hard enough to let go in the first place. So upon cleaning the small, wriggling bundle, the first arms she was placed in had been Kakashi's- and it was love at first sight. Sakura couldn't express the feeling seeing him with the baby girl instilled in her, but when he looked up at her and held out the tiny life for her to hold, Sakura knew what he didn't say.
Looking down into the scrunched up, red face and then up into his adoration struck one; Sakura knew.
"We'll keep her." Sakura's words jolted Kakashi and he looked up at her with such surprise that she couldn't help but laugh. "You think I can't tell what that look in your eye means?"
"I…" He was lost for words and Sakura smiled softly before looking back down at the bundle in her arms again.
"What about Hatake Mizumi? Our first child… what do you think Kakashi?"
For a moment Kakashi said nothing, and then he stepped forward and cupped her cheek before lowering his mask and gently pressing a kiss to her lips. "That sounds wonderful Sakura."
If only Sakura had known what it would lead to…
Ten years later…
"Hatake Mizumi, come down here right this minute!"
With a wince Mizumi peeked over the edge of the top of the three tiered bunk bed at her irate, pink haired mother. Sakura held three month old Chie in one arm, one year old Hiro in the other, with three year old Ryota clinging to her ankle. Mizumi recognized the look in her mother's eyes and didn't waste another moment contemplating escape. If Sakura had to put down the babies to chase her, she would; and Mizumi would never hear the end of it.
Vaulting over the edge of the bed Mizumi landed lightly on her feet (just as her father had taught her).
Sakura looked her up and down for a moment, as if making sure that she were clean and not missing so much as a smudge behind Mizumi's ears. After a moment she nodded down at Ryota who was now quietly sucking his thumb and staring at her with large, dark green eyes. "You were supposed to take Ryota to Suzuka's birthday party an hour ago Mizumi, why is he still here?"
With an awkward smile Mizumi scratched the back of her neck. "I was, ah… re-reading the Encyclopedia Britannica?"
Sakura's lips thinned and she stared at her daughter piercingly, waiting.
Mizumi's shoulders slumped. "I was cleaning my kunai and forgot."
Sakura stared hard at her for a moment before nodding once. "Take your brother to the party now and we'll talk about your bad lie when you get home."
Mizumi scuffed her feet on the carpet, but nodded once before kneeling down next to her brother. "Come on Ryo-chan, wanna go for a piggyback ride?"
In an instant Ryota had let go of his death grip on Sakura's ankle and wrapped his arms around his sister's neck with a delighted shriek that made her wince as she hefted him up behind her and took off before her mother could decide that she needed further punishment.
Sakura waited until she was sure Mizumi was out of earshot before she looked back up to the top bunk bed and cleared her throat. "Cleaning kunai?"
Two silver heads peeked over the edge of the bed with equally fake contrite expressions on their faces, and Sakura was hard pressed to suppress her laughter. Shin'ichi was the spitting image of his father, and when they were together like this she found herself far too willing to let misbehavior slide.
Kakashi knew this of course, and smiled. "To be fair Koi, we did clean and sharpen our kunai." At Sakura's raised eyebrow Kakashi laughed before jumping down and taking little Chie from her, cuddling the youngest Hatake close and nuzzling her hair. Sakura smiled at the image, her heart near to bursting with love for the man that had changed her whole world. Blinking back tears she looked up again, causing Shin'ichi to wince once he realized that he wouldn't be able to sneak away either.
Landing as lightly as his older sister, he jumped down next to Kakashi and reached out to take Hiro from his mother as well. "Did he eat already?" Sakura shook her head and Shin'ichi sighed before bouncing his younger brother, producing a gurgling baby laugh. "Come on big guy, let's go get some lunch!"
After his footsteps could no longer be heard Sakura looked back to Kakashi's unmasked face, mischief twinkling in his eyes, and couldn't resist leaning in to kiss him. It was a brief, chaste kiss; but when she moved to pull back, she felt his free hand snake around her back to pull her against his side. He leaned in for another kiss and it was a slow burn on her senses. The kiss was deep and lingering, full of promises that would be fulfilled in the dark of night, or a dark corner, or a quiet meadow, or…
Sakura finally pulled back and lightly smacked his chest. "You don't have to teach them everything you know, they'll have their own genin teams starting next week."
Kakashi let go of her back to grasp her hand and hold it against his chest. "Maa, they could have all the genin teams in the village training them and I'd still have a thing or two to teach them."
Sakura smiled even as she shook her head at him, but before she could say anything else Chie started to fuss. "Ah, I didn't have a chance to feed her yet either. Good thing it's your turn!" And with a quick side step she was out of his reach and sprinting for the library- the only place in the house where the children weren't allowed. Laughing at Kakashi's sigh of resignation even as she opened the door.
Over the years, the retreat of the library had become more and more necessary for both Sakura and Kakashi. Mizumi had been the first of their children, both biological and adopted, but had by no means been the last of either. In general, when a child was born from one of the women who didn't want to raise it, Kakashi and Sakura had already had a home and family prepared for the child- but not always.
There had been multiple occasions when the couple that had been prepared to take in a child had found themselves expecting as well and had backed out of the adoption to focus on their own pregnancy. A couple of times when a frazzled mother had shown up at the hospital a month or so after giving birth begging them to take the child back, determined that she just wasn't cut out for the whole business of being a mother. And even one sad occasion when a woman had wanted to have a child by herself, but had died while giving birth.
In all events, the children had been given a temporary home with the Hokage.
In most such cases, Kakashi and Sakura had grown to love the child before another home could be arranged.
Of a total of ten children that had needed a temporary home, only three had been adopted into another family in less than a month's time- and all the others had stayed. Kakashi and Sakura had adopted them all, every time saying that this time was the last time; but they invariably fell in love with each and every one: Mizumi (10), Amaya (9), Ryunosuke (8), Keiko (6), Rin (4), Ryota (3), and Hiro (1). Adding to their seven adopted children, Sakura had given birth to three children of their own: Shin'ichi (10), Obito (7), and little Chie (3 months). So the Hatake clan had gone from one lone man to a brood of two adults and ten children in just a little more than ten years.
Sakura was ridiculously glad that Kakashi was the Hokage, he had made baby-sitting the Hatake brood a regular genin mission. After the first few years they'd even had to up the level from D-ranked to C-ranked; because (as the children of Kakashi and Sakura) the Hatake children weren't just precocious in their ninja training, they were downright dangerous!
Closing the library door behind her Sakura looked around with a smile. For all that they had made the room a retreat from their brood, they were never without them. Every inch of wall space that wasn't taken with bookshelves was covered with pictures of the children and drawings done by them. Still, after a morning of herding her brood this way and that it was nice to have a place to sit down and work on her latest research.
Outside the room and down the hall Sakura could hear Kakashi and Shin'ichi laughing as Obito begged Chie not to suck on his weapon's scroll, and out the window she could hear Amaya lecturing Keiko and Rin on proper kunai handling. The house was in chaos, a relatively quiet chaos, as usual.
I know that there are still unanswered questions, but I think that I'll leave them for you guys to contemplate! I've tried to write this ending for about three years now, deleting and re-writing over and over again until this is what I came up with. So I'm sorry to say that I really have nothing left to add to this story. It's been one of my favorites, and I can never thank you guys enough for all your reviews and support. This second chapter is due entirely to all of your begging and prodding!