Forget-Me-Not – Hypermnesia
Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto.
Rating: T
World: Slightly AU but will follow canon timelines.

Story note: The structure of this fic will be a little different from what I normally do. It's about memories and how we remember, so I wanted to try to tell it like a memory. Memories are disjointed and ethereal. Sometimes there are huge chunks of time we cannot recall or faces we cannot remember, and other times we remember something in such vivid detail that we can recall the exact time of day or the exact look in the person's eyes. Memories are like highlights, and it's those highlights I'll be focusing on here. It's supposed to be disjointed and a bit jarring. Hope you enjoy!


Hypermnesia (n.) - abnormally vivid memory of the past


The first time Yamanaka Ino met Uchiha Itachi they did not speak.

Ino had not wanted to go to that meeting with her father, but he'd insisted that it was important for her to show her face to the other clan leaders and Konoha higher-ups as the heiress of the Yamanaka clan. Ino made a sour face. What did she care for stupid clan leaders and their stupid meetings? They always looked too serious or too boring, and they never looked at her. Seven-year-old girls did not command attention, and that was a shame because Ino deserved attention.

"Yamanaka-san."

Little Ino looked up from her father's side at the owner of the particularly stern voice. He was a tall man who looked like he'd been born with a frown on his face. Ino clutched the fabric of her father's pants in her small fist. She wasn't scared; she just didn't know this man.

"Uchiha-san," Inoichi said with a polite smile. "I trust your family is well?"

"Very well. And yourself?"

"Well, thank you." Inoichi reached a hand down and patted Ino on her head. "This is my daughter, Ino."

The man called 'Uchiha' peered down at Ino over his nose. She had to suppress the urge to wrinkle her nose because she knew her father wouldn't want her to be rude, but the way the man looked at her made her feel small and unimportant. She didn't like that look. He immediately returned his eyes to her father and continued as if she weren't even there.

"She's of an age with my youngest, I presume."

Why didn't he look at her if he was going to talk about her? Ino tightened her fist in her father's pant leg. She disliked his look, but she disliked being ignored even more.

"Yes, I believe they are in the same year at the Academy. Did you bring him tonight?"

"There would be little meaning in that. Itachi is my heir."

The Uchiha man gestured to the left and suddenly there was a boy standing there who hadn't been standing there before. He was taller than Ino, clearly older by several years, and he didn't smile. He had the same face as the man, whom Ino understood to be his father.

"Itachi-san, I've heard you will be promoted to the ANBU Black-ops very soon. That is a remarkable accomplishment. I'm sure you and your family must be very proud," Inoichi said with that same polite smile.

"Thank you, Yamanaka-san. I am honored by the Hokage's decision to promote me," the boy called 'Itachi' said.

Ino watched him and thought he sounded more like the stuffy adults than a boy his age. Was he really ANBU like her father had said? Ino saw ANBU shinobi coming to her house to discuss work related matters with her father sometimes. They were supposed to be the strongest shinobi in all of Konoha, her father said. That meant this boy, Itachi, must be very strong, too. She wondered if he was stronger than her father.

Itachi felt the weight of her luminous blue eyes on him and turned to catch them in his. Ino couldn't help but think that his eyes looked tired and a little sad. She offered him a small smile because that's what her mother always told her to do when someone looked sad. He watched her smile at him and blinked, like he hadn't seen right. He didn't smile back.

"Everyone, please take your seats. We will begin shortly," came a voice from the front of the meeting hall.

"Excuse us, Yamanaka-san. I'm speaking first today, so we'll be sitting at the front."

"Of course."

The Uchiha man bowed and Itachi mirrored the action with perfect poise, like he did it as often as he tied his shoes. Ino caught his eyes, fleetingly, as he turned to go. They disappeared in the crowd of clan leaders and their heirs and retainers to take their seats. Inoichi plucked Ino's fist from its death grip on his pants and gently pulled her after him to their own seats.

"Daddy, is he really going to be ANBU?" Ino asked her father once they were seated.

"Itachi-san? Yes, it was announced only yesterday. He's probably the youngest shinobi ever to be raised to the position. It is a great honor on his house."

Ino frowned and tugged at a lock of her short blonde hair. "He looked sad."

Inoichi fixed his daughter with a curious look. He grabbed her small hand in his to keep her from fidgeting with her hair. "Ino, with strength and skill comes a great deal of responsibility. The ANBU are among the most powerful shinobi in the land, and their job is to protect the people of Konoha. Itachi-san is very strong, but he's also very young. And when you are young, to bear such a heavy responsibility is even harder than when you are older. It's probably taking him some time to adjust, that's all."

"Then why does he want to do it?"

"Well, he is the heir to the Uchiha clan and these things are expected of him. It won't be easy, but Itachi-san is a genius shinobi who has the Hokage's trust. I have no doubt that Konoha will be a safer place because of his contribution."

"So he doesn't want to do it; he has to."

Inoichi ruffled her hair, something that Ino didn't like because it made her look like she just got out of bed.

"All Konoha shinobi want to do their part to protect the village. Itachi-san is no different."

Ino thought about her father's words. She supposed it made sense for a shinobi to want to protect Konoha. She was training to become a shinobi too, and she couldn't wait to be strong like her father and keep the village safe. Maybe Itachi was just tired from training? ANBU probably had to train even harder than regular Jounin.

"Don't worry, Ino. And if you ever see him again, you should thank him for his hard work protecting Konoha."

"Yes, Daddy."

If she ever saw the mysterious boy again, she would do just that.


The second time Ino met Itachi he didn't remember her name.

"Itachi-san!" Little Ino waved to the boy she had met three weeks ago.

He stopped walking at the mention of his name and looked around for the source of the voice. Ino walked across the street to him. He was holding a bag of groceries. She could see the leafy ends of carrots poking out the side.

"Itachi-san," she said again. "I wanted to say thank you for all your hard work protecting the village."

Itachi looked down at the small girl with a hint of confusion. Perhaps he hadn't been expecting a little girl to call him out in public. He blinked at her and leaned down a bit. "Not at all."

Ino had to strain a bit to hear his soft voice over the din of the morning market crowd. It made her feel a little devious to be whispering like this, like they were sharing secrets.

"I'm sorry," he continued, "but do you know me from somewhere?"

Ino tilted her blonde head in confusion. Didn't he remember? Three weeks was a long time though, and he was probably so busy with ANBU duties. She smiled. "At the meeting three weeks ago. My father congratulated you, remember?"

He seemed to think about this for a moment. "Yamanaka Inoichi-san. He is your father."

It was a statement, but Ino nodded regardless, pleased that he hadn't forgotten. "I didn't see you before now, so I didn't get to say thank you."

He watched her silently for another moment then sighed. "Forgive me, but I cannot remember your name."

Ino's smile faded instantly. He didn't remember her name? "What? But you remembered when we met, the meeting…"

"Yes, I remember it well, but I'm sorry, I can't recall your first name. It was the first time I learned that your father had a daughter."

Ino wrinkled her nose. Her mother had always impressed upon her the importance of keeping her negative feelings to herself in front of strangers because it was rude to show disappointment, but she was really disappointed. "But I remembered your name."

Itachi kneeled to the ground and set his grocery bag aside. At this height Ino could look down on him because she was still standing. She wouldn't kneel on the ground and get her dress dirty.

"It was very wicked of me to forget your name. If you tell me now, I promise I won't forget it ever again."

She peered at him, suspicious. Her father always told her to read in between people's words, to watch their movements carefully because then it was easier to see the truth in lies. Ino didn't like being lied to, but Itachi looked like he really was sorry. It was childish to stay mad at someone who was truly sorry, and at seven-years-old Ino was a lady and a kunoichi in training. She was no child.

"Ino," she said, all the while keeping her blue eyes trained on his black ones. "My name is Ino."

"Yamanaka Ino," Itachi repeated her name. He smiled, but it didn't reach his eyes. They still looked a little sad.

"Why are you sad?" Ino blurted out.

Itachi's smile faded and he looked at her thoughtfully. "Why do you think I'm sad?"

"Your eyes are sad. Daddy couldn't tell, but I can."

Itachi rose off the ground and retrieved his grocery bag. When he finished dusting himself off he looked down at her. "You're a very perceptive girl. I'm sure you will be a great shinobi one day, just like your father."

Ino didn't like the way he talked to her just then, like he wasn't really listening to her. It was almost like he didn't want to talk about it. She wondered if this was a secret too. He might tell her why he was sad if she promised to keep it a secret. "I won't tell anyone."

He smiled down at her again, that same half smile that didn't reflect in his dark eyes. "I'm much happier now that I know your name," he said softly.

That's right, he'd forgotten her name. She still felt a little upset about that, now that she thought about it. But he'd apologized, so maybe it was okay to forgive him as long as he kept his promise not to forget it again. "You promised you wouldn't forget it. It's not nice to forget a girl's name, you know."

"Yes, I know, but I always keep my promises. The next time I see you, I'll call out your name so you'll know it's me, okay?"

Ino was satisfied with this answer and she smiled brightly at him. "Okay."

She watched him go with his single bag of groceries. He walked slowly, as if he wasn't in a hurry to get home. She couldn't help but think that he didn't seem much like any of the intimidating, almost scary ANBU she'd met before.


The third time Ino saw Itachi he had blood on his hands.

She didn't recognize him when he first stumbled out of the woods. He was wearing a black and white uniform, and a porcelain animal mask covered his face. Ino was picking flowers in a glen near the woods. Her mother had entrusted her with the task of collecting the delicate purple Columbines that were beginning to bloom naturally this time of year. The last thing Ino expected to find in that little glen was a masked ANBU Black-ops with blood on his hands. She rose immediately, her features awash with concern and a little fear.

"ANBU-san? Are you hurt?"

He turned to face her and hid his hands behind his back so she wouldn't see the incriminating crimson stains. "Ino," he said, though it was somewhat muffled because of the mask.

Ino frowned. He knew her? Did that mean she was supposed to know him? She walked over to him, her blue eyes watching him carefully, suspiciously. "Who are you?"

He turned around so that she wouldn't see the way the blood on his hands smeared red and angry across the white mask as he removed it. He turned back around to face her. "It's me, Ino."

Immediately, Ino brightened like the afternoon sunshine. "Itachi-san!" She dropped her handful of flowers and ran up to him. "You remembered my name."

"I promised I wouldn't forget," he said gently. "What are you doing in a place like this? It's getting late."

She picked up one of the delicate Columbines she'd dropped and held it out to him. "I'm picking flowers for my family's shop, Yamanaka Flowers. You know it, right?"

"Yes, I know it, but you shouldn't be here alone."

"I'm not alone; you're here too. You'll protect me if bad men come, right?"

He sighed and his shoulders slumped slightly. She didn't notice. "Yes, of course I will."

Ino finally remembered that she'd seen blood on his hands even though he still hid them behind his back. "Are you hurt, Itachi-san? There's blood." She pointed to one of his obscured hands.

"Ah, no, I'm not hurt. It's not my blood."

"Can I see?"

He furrowed his brow ever so slightly. "Why?"

"I want to make sure you're not hurt."

He hesitated for a moment but eventually relented. Slowly, he brought his hands forward for her to see. Ino's blue eyes widened in a mixture of wonderment and slight repulsion. At the Academy they were learning to use kunai and shuriken, and sometimes the students cut themselves. Ino rarely cut herself because she was good at weapons training, unlike some of the other kids. She'd never seen so much blood on one person's hands until now. It was up to Itachi's mid-forearms on both hands, dark and sticky and a little caked. It smelled like rust.

"This…was a bad man's blood, right?" She looked up at him with wide cerulean eyes, searching.

"Yes. A very bad man."

"But he's gone now, right? He can't hurt us now."

Itachi's dark eyes seemed to flash with some unreadable emotion, but Ino couldn't tell what it was. "No, he can't hurt us now."

Ino smiled at him. Somehow, even though somewhere in her seven-year-old mind she could understand that Itachi must have killed the enemy shinobi, she felt safe. He hurt the enemy, but he promised to protect her because he was ANBU and that's what ANBU did. She reached out and grabbed one of his bloody hands before he could pull away. "There's a sink in the flower shop. You can wash your hands."

He retracted his hand when she tried to pull him along after her. Some of the blood had smeared on her smaller hand and he was staring fixedly at it now. "You shouldn't have done that. There's blood on your hand now."

Itachi reached in his vest pocket and pulled out a square cloth. Dark red fingerprints bloomed on the white material where he touched it. He held it out to her. "Clean it off."

"But it's already dirty," she said, indicating the bloody spots on the small cloth.

Itachi nudged her hand with the little cloth, urging her to take it. "Clean off the blood."

Ino frowned at him, unsure why he wanted her to take it. The look in his eyes made her uncomfortable so she took it and did as he bade. When he saw that she had obeyed the strange glint was gone from his eyes and he looked like Itachi again.

"The flower shop is just over there," Ino said as she wrung her hands.

Itachi shook his head. "It's alright. I have to report to the Hokage. I'll clean up there."

Ino didn't like this answer. "But it's just there," she said, pointing to the right. "There's water and everything, Itachi-san."

He regarded her silently and Ino was reminded of the sadness in his eyes. It was still there. "Blood and flowers don't mix well."

She realized then that no matter what she said, he wouldn't come with her. It made her a little angry that he didn't want to listen to her, but at least she could get him to come another time. "Next time come to the shop. Promise."

He inclined his head in understanding. "I promise, Ino."

Itachi always kept his promises.


The fourth time they met, Itachi rejected Ino.

He kept his promise to visit her at the Yamanaka flower shop, where she was fussing over an arrangement. Her mother had been teaching her the art of flower arrangement and now Ino was attempting to do her own projects for practice.

"All the girls in school like Sasuke," Ino said when Itachi had shown up unexpected on a rare break from his duties.

It had been two months since they last met. Itachi's little brother was the most popular boy in Ino's class at the Academy. It hadn't taken Ino long to discover the family ties between the two of them despite their spectacularly different personalities.

"But I don't get it. Sasuke isn't like you at all," Ino said as she tried in vain to place a Jonquil. "You're brothers, so isn't that weird?"

"No, I don't think so," Itachi said. "It would not want him to be like me."

Ino stopped her ministrations and gave Itachi a confused look, only to find that he was examining her attempt at an arrangement instead of at her. "Itachi-san, I want to give you a present."

Itachi looked up and met her blue eyes and smiling face. "What is it?"

"Flowers. I arranged them myself!"

Ino jumped down from the booster stool and scampered around the back of the cash register to retrieve a small, wrapped bundle. She clutched it to her chest and returned to where Itachi was standing.

"I don't have time to care of flowers."

Ino pouted and clutched the bundle tighter. She knew Itachi was very busy with his various responsibilities. It had been so long since she'd last seen him even though he promised he would visit her family's shop as soon as he was able. Of course he wouldn't have time to take care of some dumb flowers, she thought. She felt stupid for even thinking he would. Still, it hurt that he didn't want her present. She'd worked so hard them, too…

"Why don't you give them to Sasuke?"

"But I made them for you."

Itachi closed the distance between them and kneeled down in front of her the way he had that day in the market. Raising up a hand, he pushed a few wisps of blonde hair that had fallen free of her barrette behind her ear. "I'm very happy that you made them for me, but it would be cruel to leave them at home with no one to take care of them. Flowers need special attention, right?"

Ino nodded. Her jaw was clenched tight so she would remember not to whine or worse, cry. She would not cry even if he hurt her. She would not.

"But since I'm always away, they would suffer by themselves and eventually die. I don't want that to happen."

Ino shook her head. It made so much sense when he said it like that, but it still hurt. "I don't want that, either," she said. Bravely, she forced herself to look him in the eye so he would know she wasn't mad at him. "It was a stupid idea."

He shook his head. "No, it wasn't stupid. No one's ever given me flowers before."

"No one?"

"No one."

It made her feel a little better, like she had done something special for him. An idea clicked in her mind just then. If he couldn't accept flowers, maybe she should think of something else to give him. Just because he didn't want the flowers didn't mean he didn't want any present.

"I have to go now, Ino." Itachi stood and walked to the door, where he paused and looked back at her. "I'm sorry about the flowers."

He left and Ino watched him go. The bundle of flowers he didn't want lay forgotten on the tiled floor.


The last time Ino saw Itachi, he thanked her.

It had taken nearly three months to get her new present for Itachi and she hadn't seen him once during that time. Her birthday came and went with no sign of the mysteriously melancholy Uchiha heir, but Ino did not let that deter her. She wanted the next time she saw him to be when her present was ready.

It was late in the afternoon when the newly turned eight-year-old reached the Uchiha compound as fast as her short legs could carry her. She had to stop at the front gate to catch her breath so she wouldn't look winded and sweaty when she saw Itachi. He was already prettier than her, although she would never admit that out loud, so Ino wanted to look her best on this special occasion. She clutched the small box to her chest and marched boldly through the front gates into the Uchiha compound.

Uchiha family members milled about the area running errands, chatting about the latest gossip, and hanging up laundry to dry. Some children close to her age were playing a game of tag and ran across the street not two feet in front of her, causing her to stop or risk running into them. Ino pursed her lips at their carelessness—some people were trying to walk here. But they darted away, completely oblivious to her irritation. Ino turned up her nose and continued on her way to the main house. They didn't matter, and she wasn't here for them, anyway.

She knocked on the front door of the main house and waited for admittance. Some people turned to look at the blonde, blue-eyed girl so out of place within the Uchiha family compound. Ino didn't mind their looks, though. She had always liked the attention. The door opened and Ino looked up to see the overly stern Uchiha clan leader himself. It took him a moment to realize his caller was barely as tall as his waist. He peered down at her over his nose.

"…You're Yamanaka's daughter," he said.

Ino remembered her courtesies and bowed low. "I'm sorry to disturb you, Uchiha-sama," she said. "I'm looking for Itachi-san."

"Itachi." He said it like the word left a bad taste in his mouth. "What do you want with him?"

"I have something for him." She showed him the box. "Please, it's very important. It will only take a minute."

The Uchiha patriarch glared down at her. "I have not seen the boy here all day. But if you find him, tell him I need a word."

Ino opened her mouth to say something else, but the door slammed in her face. For a second she stared at the wood paneling, stunned. But then she came to her senses and made a face at the door. It was rude to show her distaste in front of strangers, but there was no one around to see it because he'd slammed the door in her face. Ino turned on her heel and stalked out of the compound, her anger rising off her in waves. When she made it to the gate she stopped and let her shoulders slump. The box still rested in her tiny hands. She didn't want to leave without giving it to Itachi, but his father had said he wasn't here. Where could he be if not here? The thought of him being out on a mission now made her heart sink a little. If he was gone from Konoha, he might not be back for weeks.

"Are you lost, little one?"

Ino looked up to see an ancient woman looking down on her with a kind smile. Her hair was a shade of white brighter than any Ino had ever seen on a person. It was almost blinding.

"No," Ino said. "I was just looking for someone, but he's not here."

The woman smiled at her. "Is that so? And who is it you're looking for?"

"Uchiha Itachi."

The woman clapped her hands together. "Itachi-sama! I didn't know he had such a pretty young friend."

The old woman patted Ino's head the way her father did. It didn't mess up her hair the way her father's pats did, though.

"I have something to give him." Ino held out the box for the old lady to see.

"A present, perhaps? Then you absolutely must find him. Let me see now. Itachi-sama is always up by dawn and has a habit of sneaking about where no one can see him. But these eyes are sharper than they look."

"Obaa-san, do you know where he went?" Ino gazed up at the old woman with big, hopeful eyes.

"I can't be sure, but I have an idea. Itachi-sama likes to spend time in the secret garden when he wants to be alone."

"A secret garden?" Ino slumped a little. If this garden was a secret then there was no way she would be able to find it!

"Yes, a secret garden. But I'll tell you something, child." The old woman leaned closer. "I know where the garden is."

Immediately, Ino's blue eyes sparkled with hope. "Can you please tell me, obaa-san? Please?"

"You have to promise me you won't tell anyone. It's Itachi-sama's secret place."

Ino nodded vigorously. "I promise! I promise I won't tell!"

The old woman smiled kindly and whispered the location of the garden in Ino's ear—just to make sure no one could overhear. When she finished Ino smiled. It wasn't far from here. She thanked the old woman and scampered off.

Sure enough, Itachi was in his secret garden when Ino arrived. He was standing in the middle of the small garden clad in casual Uchiha attire. A bright red and white fan was emblazoned upon the back of his shirt. He sensed her presence and turned around to face her.

"Ino." He sounded a little surprised to see her.

"Obaa-san was right," Ino said happily. "I found you just where she said you'd be."

He inclined his head in mild curiosity. "You were looking for me."

"I have something for you."

Ino walked toward him, careful not to step on the rainbow of flowers that had been carefully and lovingly planted. She held out the box for him. "This is for you."

Itachi looked down at the small white box clutched dearly in the small girl's hands. He sighed and lowered himself to the ground, letting his back hunch. Ino looked at him with a worried expression on her face. He looked so weary, like he'd been running nonstop for days and days without taking any breaks.

"Itachi-san? Are you ok?"

He looked up at her and Ino noticed for the first time that the markings under his eyes seemed more pronounced than before, like the scars of time. He looked older.

"Itachi," he said. "Just call me Itachi."

Ino had not been expecting this, but he looked so very tired that she didn't want to question him. "Itachi," she said, trying out the sound of his name stripped of the dry formalities.

"Yes, Ino?"

He still had that sad, almost haunted look in his eyes, but now it was compounded by the weary slump of his shoulders and the grooves on his face. He was still prettier than her, in spite of it all.

"I brought this for you."

He peered at the offered box and then looked back up at her. After a moment's hesitation he accepted it.

"Open it," Ino said, unable to fight the smile creeping its way onto her face.

He opened it. He stared at the contents for a full minute before looking back up at her. Before he could say anything, Ino interrupted.

"I know you said you don't have time to take care of flowers, but these don't need water or anything."

Itachi pulled the delicate necklace out of the box to get a better look at it in the low afternoon sun. It was a fine chain of obvious quality with three small pendants evenly spaced from the center. Upon closer examination, he made out faint carvings within each pendant inlaid with blue mother-of pearl. They were shaped like small flowers and glimmered with a periwinkle luster in the sunlight. Itachi thumbed one of the small, carved flowers. The design was such that it didn't stand out ostentatiously, and the layer of mother-of-pearl was thin enough to give off only a faint sheen. From a normal distance, one might not even notice the details.

"They're Forget-Me-Nots, so you'll never forget. You forgot my name once, but now you have no excuse, see?"

Itachi looked up at her with a strange look on his face. It was like he wanted to smile but couldn't. "I promised I would remember your name."

Ino smiled. "I know."

He sighed tiredly and rubbed his eyes. "Some things may be better off forgotten."

Ino frowned down at him and put her hands on her hips. "Maybe bad things, but good things should be remembered. Beautiful things. And things that make you happy."

Itachi was silent for a long time as he examined the simple but sturdy piece of jewelry. Ino wondered if he was going to tell her he didn't need her present like last time. The thought of a second rejection hurt, and she began to dread that feeling. This time she'd done it right. This time she had made sure she wouldn't give him something useless and stupid.

He unclasped the necklace and put it around his neck. Then he pulled his long ponytail out from under it. The chain rested just over his collarbone. Ino stared at the small pendants. She could barely make out the delicate floral design, but that was a good thing. She didn't think Itachi would like something flashy like the necklaces her mother wore, but as long as she knew the flowers were there that was all that mattered.

"Thank you, Ino."

Ino blinked in wonderment at the sight of his smile. It was the truest smile she'd ever seen on him. The sadness still lingered in the depths of his dark eyes, but it seemed to accent the real smile, pulling her in. A smile of her own spread across her face. He liked her present. He put it on. He wasn't throwing it away.

Itachi tucked loose wisps of blonde hair behind her ear. "I will never forget. I promise."

She believed him.


The next day at school, Ino took her assigned seat next to Nara Shikamaru who had fallen asleep. He always got there first since his family always woke at the crack of dawn, but Shikamaru had never been a morning person. Ino shoved him with her elbow to wake him up before he drooled all over their shared desk. Iruka walked in and called for everyone to please take their seats and be quiet. He stood behind his desk and stared at it with clenched fists. Ino frowned. Usually, their teacher was so cheerful. Everyone had arrived by then and taken their seats, but one seat remained empty. It was not like Sasuke to be late for school.

"Everyone, last night there was a terrible accident that took place at the Uchiha compound. I'm sure some of you are already aware of the situation," Iruka said heavily.

Whispers erupted from the confused students. Uchiha compound? Accident? Ino immediately thought of Itachi and hoped it was nothing serious. What if he was hurt? Or worse?

Itachi is strong. He wouldn't let the bad men hurt him or anyone else, Ino reassured herself.

"It's been confirmed that the entire Uchiha clan was slaughtered sometime late last night or early this morning."

Collective gasps resounded and people started talking more loudly. What was the meaning of this? Was this some kind of joke? Where was Sasuke? Everyone had a million and more questions, but Iruka merely put up a hand and waited for everyone to quiet down. His seriousness made Ino's hands shake.

Slaughtered.

The entire Uchiha clan.

Last night.

No. No, this isn't right. No, no, no.

"Sasuke is unharmed and is currently being attended by the Hokage," Iruka said, his voice cracking.

Itachi. What about Itachi? Is Itachi ok? Ino had to sit on her hands to keep them from shaking and making noise against her desk.

Iruka rubbed his eyes hard and Ino noticed he was crying. "Sasuke's brother, Uchiha Itachi…"

Yes, Itachi. Itachi is ok, right? Right?

"Uchiha Itachi has been confirmed to be responsible for the…the massacre," Iruka coughed in an attempt to clear his constricted throat. "H-He has fled the village and his whereabouts are currently unknown…"

Ino didn't hear the rest of it. All around her students were falling into various stages of desperation and despair. Some were sobbing loudly, some were demanding to see Sasuke, some were shouting that Iruka was making it all up. But Ino knew it was no joke. No one would ever joke about something like this.

Ino wasn't shouting or making demands of any kind. She just sat at her desk with her back straight as a rod and sitting on her shaking hands. Hot tears streamed down her cheeks and turned her eyes puffy and red. But she didn't move.

Itachi.

The entire Uchiha clan.

Sasuke is unharmed.

Itachi.

Late last night.

Fled the village.

Itachi.

Whereabouts unknown.

Responsible for the massacre.

Itachi.

"Itachi," Ino whispered.

The only image she could bring to mind was the sight of him smiling for her in his secret garden. He promised her he would never forget.


Author's note: Before anyone yells at me, I know it's retarded to start a new story with three incomplete ones in the works still. Honestly, I can't even deal with this muse overload right now. Just go with it, please?

WOW, writing children's POVs is mega hard. Not sure if I'm super happy with the outcome. I don't know how long this will be. This is kind of a fun experiment with a different style of writing than my usual, so I'm discovering it as I go. Concrit and general feedback on how I'm doing is much appreciated. Reviews are love, and I love the readers who take the time to leave them!