summary: Nothing in this world compares to the comfort and security of having someone holding your hand.
note: The summary quote is from Richelle E. Goodrich. This story is set in the Edo period. Historical fiction has a soft spot in my heart. The month begins!
over the horizon
There was always a moment in life where everything changed. Right now was that moment for Sakura.
Mebuki fussed around her daughter; placing every strand of her methodically on her head and smoothing out any creases on her kimono. Sakura sat still, letting her mother do whatever she pleased. She always did, anyhow. Sakura never had a say in much and she had lived obeying her mother's word.
"You look wonderful," She heard her mother breathe, "Are you ready?"
Sakura took a look at herself in the mirror—her lips were painted deep red, her eyes rimmed black and her face powdered white. She was the perfect bride. Her mother had made sure of it. She took in a deep breath, her fists balling up at her sides. A smile broke out on her face as she slowly stood up.
The first time they met, she had been awestruck by his beauty. It simmered. His eyes burned; the aura around him fiery. He hadn't been happy to be there, she was sure, but Uchiha Sasuke always gave everything to anything he did. So when he bent over to greet her, she had been surprised when he had stayed there longer than she expected. He showed the utmost respect for her, there was no mistake.
It was odd, however, because she never felt the warmth from his affections. His lips brushed against the back of her hand so softly when he greeted her every morning. His hand would rest on her shoulder blade, applying the exact pressure to guide her but not to stress her. Sakura felt his determination to court her, but she knew he hadn't really wanted to do it.
For that reason alone, she did not fall in love with him.
"We're going to be unhappy." Sakura remarked nonchalantly one day as they walked through the gardens.
Spring was in full bloom and it was a generally happy time. The flowers flourished and the grass was green. Around them, the air was fresh and the wind was gentle. Her arm was tucked in the crook of his elbow as they strolled down the path. When she looked at him, she wondered how someone could be so dark. He was a stark contrast to the bright spring day.
"Why do you think that," he asked in a rich voice.
Sakura wanted to laugh. He didn't even sound like he wanted to ask that question. Their daily strolls were usually quiet. She enjoyed the scenery around them—the Uchihas had the most magnificent gardens, after all—and he had always been deep in thought. Her fingers curled tighter around his arm.
"Because," she started determinedly, "you don't want this. You've been courting me for the past two months and you know nothing about me. You kiss my hand every morning and bid me goodbye every night, but you could not name my favourite food. Your efforts… are not really efforts in the least."
He turned to her now as they came to a halt, "What do you want from me?"
Sakura broke eye contact, instead turning to the blue skies. They were clear, except for the occasional cloud that breezed by. Her eyes closed as she felt the wind fan over her face. Her heart thumped faintly against her breast. She felt the fabric of his sleeve rub against her palms, creating warmth that she never got from him.
"I only want what you can give, Sasuke," she replied simply, opening her eyes.
There wasn't a huge difference, Sakura mused. He continued to brush his lips over the back of hand but it seemed more like a caress instead. He bowed, as usual, but it there was a certain sincerity to it. The hand that guided her around now cupped her shoulders, instead of simply lying on top. She felt him melt into her.
"My father would bring me outside every spring and sit with me," Sakura started speaking softly one day, "and he would show me the Sakura petals. This is the beauty we named you after, he would say. I never forgot to appreciate the Sakura trees."
She didn't know what propelled her to tell Sasuke such an intimate story, but Sakura felt it. She felt the warmth that she had longed for all along; the acceptance. It allowed her to open herself without being afraid. It was a feeling that she just knew.
"Aa, they are very beautiful, aren't they," Sasuke replied softly, slowing down in front of a particularly big tree. A bench stood under it and he guided her there, seating themselves comfortably with their backs against the bark.
Silence enveloped them again. It was different, however, because it wasn't apathetic. They were not lost in their own worlds, their thoughts scattered. They were basking in each other's company, soaking in the presence of someone else. Sakura knew he was trying and it was all she asked for.
A smile slowly spread across her face. Her head lowered until it rested comfortably in the crook between his shoulder and neck. They did not move for a while.
"My father taught me how to make a fire. I was rather bad at it and he scolded me often but it was worth it. When the wood ignited, I saw the pride light up in my father's eyes. I was only seven."
Sasuke spoke softly, but his voice was a deep baritone. She was once again resting her head on his shoulder; his skin warming her from the chilly spring air. It was not the first time he told her of his past, of himself. They were finally making progress, she thought happily.
"Wouldn't it be nice to have a fire right now?" Sakura mused–there was a nice opening in the middle of the garden, where the bench stood so that admirers had a good view of the flowers.
"Aa," he agreed.
Perhaps it was the extra warmth that the thought of a fire brought them, but Sakura had felt the need to turn to him. They were close, with her head resting on the nook of his shoulder. He turned too–and inhaled her sweet scent. It was floral, he noted, amused.
Sakura blinked once, twice and their lips were touching the third time. Her eyes fluttered closed as she focused on the feeling of his lips pressed up against hers. They moved gently; a light nipping. It was comfortable and it was as if it had been done before, like it was a routine.
They would be happy together, Sakura knew.
She was bankrupt. It was a fact that had yet to sink it completely. Sakura heard her mother softly crying and her father cursing. They paced around the house–a house that they soon would not own. The air was thick and Sakura did not know what to do. There wasn't much for her to do.
Then there was a knock at the door. Her heart stopped. It had to be the Uchihas. They would annul the wedding, she knew. They would never stand their name being marred by the Harunos. Hesitantly, Sakura left her parents to answer the door.
To her surprise, only Sasuke stood outside her door. She expected Fugaku to come, at least, and definitely Madara. He had a penchant for chaos, that man. However, solely Sasuke greeted her. His expression was somber but this was better news than she expected so she didn't mind.
He offered her his arm–a gesture out of respect, she presumed–and she took it gladly, wondering if this was the last time she would touch him, bury her fingers in the crook of his arm. They strolled towards the pond that was in her backyard. Sakura realized she would lose that too.
"You could spare me the dread, Sasuke-kun," she told him as they sat down next to each other, "You may tell me that the Uchiha clan wishes to annul the wedding and the engagement."
"We do not wish to annul the wedding." His voice was stern, serious. There was no doubt he meant it.
Sakura was confused but angry and she shouted at him, shaken up. "What do you mean you do not wish to annul the wedding? Do not joke with me! What could the Harunos possibly offer the Uchiha? We're not worth a penny anymore!"
"Sit down, Sakura," he coaxed. There was an edge to his voice.
She complied, having not even realized she had gotten up in her fury. Slightly embarrassed, she folded her hands in her lap and lowered her head. They were silent for a while, until Sakura started weeping softly. Sasuke turned to her in surprise.
He watched as her shoulders heaved with her sobs. She hiccuped and he was glad that her hair draped over her face so he could not see her pain. Slowly, his arm extended to wrap around her comfortingly. She fell against him, her sobs intensifying.
"You… have me." Sasuke told her, his fingers ghosting her arm.
Sakura found out later that Sasuke had fought tooth and nail to keep his engagement to her. It was at their banquet that Fugaku had come to her with a stern face. Sasuke was beside her, an arm leisurely wrapped around her waist.
"I disagree with my son on this," the Uchiha patriarch had told her, his tone clipped, "but it will give Kizashi a chance to redeem himself. I wish you two the best."
That was all. Fugaku turned away and tended to the guests. Sakura turned to Sasuke questioningly, but he merely waved her off. She didn't have a chance to protest, however, because one of the Uchiha's relatives had already come up to greet them. Sometimes, Sakura wondered, how being gloomy could run in the family.
As the banquet ended, the guests filed out of the Uchiha manor–one that now belonged to her and Sasuke. Sakura drifted out to the balcony, where she inhaled the fresh air. A sense of dread had filled her throughout the evening. Her father now owed the Uchihas and it was widely known that the Uchihas were not the kindest of people.
"Sakura," she heard her husband call her. He stood at the door, his face blank.
She smiled at him wearily, "Come. Enjoy some fresh air. It's been a long day."
Sasuke complied and stood beside her. They watched the scenery in silence as they do often. He peered at her face, seeing the way her eyes slanted downwards, as if she was tired. He reached for her hand, grasping it in his much bigger one.
Sakura's eyes drifted to him, a little surprised by his actions. Then he squeezed her hand and a smile spread across her face. He saw the tiredness disappear and she was once again the bright woman he had first met so many months ago.
Her thumb brushed over his. There was something inexplicable about having her hand completely enveloped in his. It gave her a sense of comfort and security that she had been lacking otherwise. As she watched the stars twinkle in the distance, she knew that no matter what–Sasuke was there.