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jelynne in paper_tale

Once, Twice, Again (Naruto)

Despite when it’s being posted, this is not a Christmas story in any way, shape, or form. It’s simply the time I finished it, and I wanted to release it unto the world internet quickly, before it (possibly) gets jossed by upcoming chapters of the Naruto manga.

This particular story is based on events in very recent chapters indeed (the 420something chapters, specifically), and there are certain assumptions I’ve made regarding recent/upcoming canon for the purposes of the story, since it’s set just after the currently running battle is over. However, as these assumptions are spoilers of the first order, I’ve hidden them. Highlight to read!
I’ve assumed that Kakashi really is dead, that Ino and Sakura survived the attack, that the village of Konoha still exists somehow, and that Naruto is back from hermit training and hasn’t been bijuu-napped or gone away again immediately after the attack is over.





Series: Naruto
Characters: Sakura, Ino, Naruto
Word Count: 1030
Prompt: #56 the beginning is the end is the beginning (64damn_prompts)
Genre: Drama/Romance?
Rating: PG-13
Spoilers: up to ch427 of the Naruto manga
Warnings: There are mentions of a sexual relationship between a 16-year-old and a 30something-year-old, so it’s a little... umn... statutory. However, nothing sexual actually happens in the story.

I don’t own Naruto, and that will be unutterably obvious if/when this story gets jossed.




It hurts the most when you can actually feel your heart breaking.


Once, Twice, Again



She feels that she has become familiar with heartbreak.

Evidently it wasn’t enough to have fate and retribution and life tear her heart slowly to pieces once. Even though it had taken nearly two years to carefully, painfully reconstruct her self, her heart, the sacrifice had not been great enough.

She had dared to love another.

Now, simply the act of rolling over in bed and reaching for a warm body who is not there, who was not there, who will never be there again breaks her. Again and again.

She had thought heartbreak was bad enough when the one she had loved was still alive, though forever gone, forever never to be hers.

Ten times worse is the love who is gone and dead and yet still there, still cupping her broken breaking heart in his hands.

~*~


“You can’t keep going like this, Sakura.” Ino shook her head irritably, blonde ponytail whipping though the air.

“Why can’t I?” Sakura refused to meet the other girl’s eye, pretending to be fascinated by watching her fingers combing and plucking at the grass she sat on.

“Oh, for...” The blonde cut herself off abruptly, and leaned down with her hands on her hips to address her seated companion more directly, with more irritation. “What difference would it make if you’d been there? You’d just both be dead. Is that what you want?”

“Maybe.”

Ino slapped her, hard, across the cheek. “You’re not the only one who’s lost your jounin-sensei,” she snapped. “Yet the rest of us somehow manage to get up and go on, so why can’t you? You’re so selfish!”

Sakura sagged, almost seeming to crumble in on herself. “That’s... It’s not...” She wrapped her arms around her bent legs, pressing her forehead to her knees. “I never even got to see his face,” she all but whispered into her thighs.

Ino faltered. The mere fact that Sakura wasn’t fighting back was almost frightening, and she also had no idea of how to deal with a Sakura who didn’t fight back.

“Can’t you... You need to get past this. Yes, Kakashi’s dead, but you need to deal with it and just get on with your life. Even though he’s dead, you’re...”

“Stop it.” Sakura still refused to raise her head, her voice just strong enough for Ino to hear clearly. “Please, just stop. Everybody keeps telling me ‘He’s dead’, ‘He’s dead’, ‘He’s dead’. Don’t you think I know?”

~*~


She should have been there. If she had been there, maybe he wouldn’t have died. Maybe she could have healed him. Or maybe they could have died there together.

She is being betrayed by her own memory.

She has already forgotten how he smelled, the pattern of the scars on his hands. The knowledge that she is forgetting him so easily is tearing at her. She torments herself, trying desperately to recall what is already lost.

She cannot forget the way his touch felt. How his fingertips learned every centimetre of her skin. How it had felt to lie in his arms. The way he used to hold her hips. The dark, private thrill of the secret between them.

A secret until she was older, then. A secret to be kept forever, now. She will not sully the memory of a war-hero. The memory of a man she loves.

Every memory, every not-memory breaks her heart anew. Every tree that she doesn’t see him sitting under, every meeting he doesn’t come late to. Every evening that he doesn’t come to tap on her window-pane, every night spent alone.

Five hundred thousand heartbreaks later, her chest full of razor-edged shards, she finally goes where she should have gone four hundred ninety-nine thousand nine hundred and ninety-nine heartbreaks ago.

~*~


Naruto didn’t ask questions when Sakura woke him up out of a sound sleep somewhere between midnight and dawn as she ripped open what had been a locked window (it would never lock again after that night, the mechanism to do so having been torn right out of the frame), and dropped into his room.

He said nothing at all at first, simply lay on his side in the bed and looked at her as she stood uncertainly near the broken window, her arms wrapped tightly around herself. She could feel him reading things on her face and in her eyes, but for once she didn’t care what he could see there and she didn’t turn away.

Finally, he lifted his arm and the covers of the bed and said gruffly “Come here.”

Of course, he had been waiting for her. Waiting, probably, since the moment they were told their jounin-sensei was dead. Maybe even since the moment Sasuke had turned his back on both of them.

Sakura choked on a sudden sob, and threw herself to the bed, under the covers he’d lifted for her, into his arms.

Naruto held her as she clung to him and cried, her body wracked with heavy, shuddering sobs.

~*~


When she wakes up the next morning, everything is tangled.

Her and his legs tangled together under snarled sheets, his fingers tangled into her hair as he carefully cradles her head like a precious object. The fingers of his other hand tangled with hers.

Her heart, a tangled, broken, maybe-healing-maybe-not mess, still sharp and tender.

He is awake, she can tell from his heartbeat, his breathing. But he doesn’t move. He waits, both of them wait, to see what she’s going to do now.

She wants to thank him. Wants to push him away. Wants to bury her face in his chest and sleep or cry there a thousand years. Wants to run.

It only takes a very small motion of her head to reach up and press her mouth to his.

Her first kiss. The only thing she has to give him that she hasn’t given to someone else before.

~*~


“I still love Sasuke.”

“I know.”

“I love Kakashi, too.”

“Alright.”

“I... I think I love you.”

“I love you, Sakura-chan.”

“Please...”

“Mmm?”

“Please, don’t ever die. Or leave. But please, especially, please don’t die.”

“Never. It’s a promise.”

Naruto’s smile was blinding, so bright it made her heart hurt.
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Comments

mmm, heartbreaking but ever so slightly optimistic at the end. because we both know naruto will do all he can to keep that promise to her. loved the way you handled this, the way things were broken up. the flow of it was lovely, as was the writing. great job :D
Thank you for your compliments, I'm very flattered. ^.^

And, well, a fic about heartbreak should be a bit heartbreaking itself, right? Otherwise it's a bit too distant, and you can't get into what the character is feeling.
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