note: SORRY. this took longer than expected. on another note, sasuke is going to be perfectly faithful in this fic.
warnings: post-canon, apathetic-ish!sakura


ii. wedding


.

Once they leave Kakashi's office, they make arrangements.

Although they're legally married, Sakura won't actually move into is newly constructed home in what was once the Uchiha district until after their formal wedding ceremony. Sasuke doesn't care about being perceived as doing something as common but untraditional as "living in sin" (Kakashi's words), but Sakura does recognize that there's a certain level of respect to be warranted to the man that can at least pretend his to-be wife has reason to wear white on her wedding day.

So they resume their normal lives.

For the next five weeks, Sasuke continues on as a shadow, working solely as the Hokage's hand on missions that aren't even listed, moving in and out of the village silently and swiftly, but sticking around between said missions for two-to-three day intervals to make the appearances of the doting boyfriend and eager fiancé, taking Sakura out to the most public places and making sure to grace her expensive and unnecessary gifts that he knows she probably just stuffs in some drawer the minute she gets home.

Likewise, Sakura divides her time between working in the hospital, keeping up appearances, and maintaining her position as one of Kakashi's most favoured diplomats.

It's a day of April showers when, following a meeting with the Raikage that revealed and accomplished essentially nothing, Sakura makes her first move as Sasuke's trusted partner.

"One last thing, Raikage-sama," Sakura says softly, almost meekly. She blushes the perfect shade of pink and smiles when he raises an eyebrow at her, telling her to continue. "I would like to extend to you an invitation to my wedding."

Sakura isn't audacious enough to believe she's worthy of another village's leader gracing her wedding.

She understands her position. Despite coming from a civilian family and having no distinct source of power, Sakura knows that her name is fairly well-known not only as the teammate of such and such famous shinobi, but also on her own – as Haruno Sakura. She's a war hero. She's a saviour. She's the pretty face many woke up when they thought they were dead, asking if she was an angel. She's the girl that trailed after two Hokages, observing and analyzing and softly sharing her insight. She's gone from the little unknown student of Rokudaime Hatake Kakashi, to the apprentice of the Tsunade Godaime Hokage. She's led programs in numerous villages to promote medical knowledge among all ninja, she's served as a charming diplomat with all of Konoha's allies, and she's done this all below the age of twenty-five.

Sakura's a renowned prodigy in her own right.

Nevertheless, she knows that there's an expectation that she's marrying someone of much worth for her to invite someone like the Raikage.

"Your wedding," the gruff man repeats, eyes narrowing ever so slightly.

She nods. "My wedding."

"To?"

She seems to take a breath before saying confidently: "Uchiha Sasuke."

His sole fist clenches and Sakura maintains her smile despite the unease coursing through her.

"Uchiha," he says, the word slipping out in a bitter hiss. But he's played the game of politics for too long and knows better than to lash out at the kind little girl in front of him. The Raikage eyes her, wondering what she's up to, and resigns himself to not finding anything. "And when is this wedding?"

"In two weeks."

The man's eyes widen a tad and he almost grins. "I'm afraid I already have many prior commitments for next few months, Haruno-san," the Raikage informs her oh so diplomatically. "It's a shame."

She nods. "It is."

"Why the short notice?"

Sakura shrugs once. "It was…" She smiles a perfect smile, meek little blush and all, and then shrugs again. "Sasuke-kun's proposal was just so sudden," she tells him. "And we don't want to wait any longer."

Sakura eyes him carefully though as she allows herself the chance to be pleased. Two weeks was just enough time to seem like she was giving time at all but to be sure that someone as busy as the Raikage would definitely be unable to attend.

"I see."

The Raikage nods and their conversation dwindles until, finally, Sakura's diplomatic work is over and she is free to leave.

.


.

In two weeks, they are married.

The ceremony is huge.

The guest list is extensive and the venue is decorated in a huge display of all the wealth Uchiha Sasuke has inherited from his deceased clan. Tables graced with silken clothes, stacked porcelain plates, towering flower arrangements, and bottles of wine that screamed vintage.

And, of course, the bride glows.

She foregoes the traditional garb that he had wanted her to wear partly to spite him, he assumes, but mostly to make it clear that she had no plans of simply submitting. Fair enough, he thinks. Her dress is something out of a fairy tale – not quite the heavy folds of silk or satin that he's sure someone like Ino would love to wear to their own wedding, but, instead, something that is loose and fluid. The bodice clings to her upper body but flows out from her waist line, drifting behind her as she approaches him with a veil of baby's breath.

She looks ridiculous, Sasuke thinks almost fondly.

And then it's over.

He barely remembers vowing things like love and fidelity. He recalls Sakura's soft smile and Naruto's proud grin.

But then he's in a reception hall sipping on wine that Sakura's picked out while everyone takes advantage of the open bar. He wants nothing more than to walk away and get some air but his darling wife manages to get away from all the women hounding her and she sits beside him.

"How are you doing?" she asks him in a hushed tone. The smile on her face looks sympathetic and it's the most genuine expression he's seen on her face since his proposal – no, his request.

He only frowns. "What do you mean?"

Sakura rolls her eyes and covers her annoyance with a too tight grin. "I know you don't like crowds, much less parties," she says, looping her arm through his, "but do at least pretend to be enjoying your own wedding, Sasuke-kun."

"Hn." He can't help but feel mildly offended. "Of course I'm enjoying—"

"Oh, please."

Sasuke glares down at her but she raises her hands and gently places them upon his cheeks. She looks ready to kiss him, but he knows better than to define Haruno Sakura as predictable.

"I'm not an idiot, Sasuke-kun," she carefully states. "Don't insult me by lying to me." Wisely, Sasuke deigns to stay silent. This seems to please her as she continues. "That being said, I'm well aware that you don't love me, you don't want this marriage, and that you were most likely pressured into this by the Kakashi and the Elders."

His silence speaks volumes.

She shrugs. "It's fine. I suppose I'm almost honoured." She leans back and winks. "Who would've thought I'd be chosen as the brood mare for the Uchiha clan? Anyhow, I suppose we should set some ground rules."

"Ground rules?"

"Ground rules."

The term makes him uncomfortable.

"What sort of ground rules?" he ventures.

"You will be faithful."

He can't but feel slighted by her own lack of faith. "What kind of man do you think I am?"

"One who doesn't love me."

Fair enough, he thinks, but he still rolls his eyes. "What else?"

"When we're around other people, you have to at least try to seem affectionate."

Sasuke says nothing but the exasperation on his face is enough. Didn't he already do that?

"You need to step it up, Sasuke-kun." She raises an eyebrow. "You're brooding at your own wedding. You've barely spoken to me all night." She gestures around to Kakashi and to the other clan heads who came mostly for the sake of formalities. "Do you think these people are stupid? They're shinobi just like us, Sasuke-kun, and they can tell when something isn't real."

He plasters on a smile of sorts but his words are anything but happy. "And is that all?"

"For me, yes."

"For you?"

She nods. "Now onto the matter of our children." She gives him no time to process the prospect of children. "You will be good to them. You'll be around and you'll love them." Sakura can probably see his hackles rising because she's quick to add, "I don't expect you to not love them, but I get it. You have… issues." She shrugs for the nth time. "But they'll still be your children and you will not ever make them have to feel the brunt of your problems."

Children.

Sasuke pictures a little boy with dark hair and green eyes, small and vulnerable and entirely dependent on him. With his luck, he'd end up as emotional as Sakura – or worse, as obnoxious as Naruto. Or maybe he'll have a girl. A girl with Sakura's hair and Sakura's eyes but with his quiet disposition and a lingering shyness. He pictures these children that he's reluctant to have but willing to have and considers that they'll probably cry and they'll probably wobble around and they'll probably really, really need him. There's something swelling in his chest, some form of warmth mixed with a building tempestuous anxiety and suddenly the little boy and the little girl, lovely as they may be, are mostly filling him with dread.

Children.

They want him to have children.

They don't want to domesticate him, they want to trap him in this damn village.

But Sasuke nods numbly. He swallows thickly and nods again. "Of course," he says.

And she nods back. "Good." Relief washes over her face as mumbles, "Thank you, Sasuke-kun."

That shakes him out of his stupor.

Sasuke-kun.

She hasn't called him that in years – not since they were children, not since when he first came across her during the war. She said his names a few times then, sometimes in shock, sometimes in fear, sometimes as she writhed in pain, probably hoping for him to swoop in and save her or something equally idealistic. But then everything ended and they won and he was in something of a coma and when he finally woke up to her glowing green hands and smiling green eyes, she only greeted him as Sasuke. And then they made it back to the village and he was still Sasuke. They've been going on missions together for years and still, he's still just Sasuke.

So this is a surprise.

"You're calling me Sasuke-kun again," he mumbles. He says it mostly to himself, but she manages to hear him.

"What?" She blinks owlishly before looking away. She flushes slightly and then shrugs. "You're…" She finally looks up at him with a small smile and she looks pleased and unhappy and just so utterly tragic all at once. "You're…" Sakura trails off and sighs. "Well, you're my husband. You're… my partner. You're Sasuke—Sasuke-kun. I don't know."

And then the unexpected vulnerability on her face is too much for so Sasuke, on a whim, decides to lean forward and press a kiss to the corner of her mouth.

No matter how fake she could be, in the end she was still the kind and loving and emotional Sakura he knew once upon a time.

He's ready to kiss her again, show her the affection she wanted from him, but she draws back ever so slightly in every sense of the term, her mask in place once more as she murmurs, "Let's give these people the show they're looking for."

tbc