The old lady turns around, a smile already blooming on her thin lips. The child running towards her has the widest grin on his face, his short pink hair plastered on his forehead. He finally catches up to her, his small hands fisting around the hem of her formal kimono.
"How are you doing, Kiseki-chan?"
"Kaa-san told me about Sofu-sama and the Fifth War! Is it true?"
She chuckles, her wrinkled eyes glittering with mirth. Kiseki looks up to her face, wonder on his features. Her hair is still as pink as it was in her youth, and there are now three seals on her forehead. She doesn't have any reason to use them, but she knows how important it might one day be to have that much chakra to pass on.
It does make for an interesting sight when she's invited by the Hyūga clan. Their children practice their Byakugan on her and most of them end up with teary eyes and a headache for days. She's been told on numerous account that she's a supernova of chakra. It does wonders to her ego in her old age.
"It is very much true, Kiseki-chan. Would you like to know more?"
"Totally! Do you mind if I bring my friends?"
"Of course not. Tell your father he can take a day off of watching over you little hooligans."
Sakura keeps walking, laughing softly as he starts to pout. She slows down when she feels the familiar chakra of her daughter-in-law. In a swirl of leaves and dust, the woman appears next to them.
"Hello, Giri-san," she says, nodding towards the dark-haired woman.
"Honoured Clan Head," her daughter-in-law answers with a private smile. They've always gotten along just fine, often finding a shared enjoyment in making their respective son and husband miserable. "I hope Kiseki hasn't been bothering you."
"Nonsense. I hear you've been telling my grandson stories."
"Shouldn't I?" Giri tenses, knowing the subject is a sensitive one.
"As long as you made it into epic tales of glorious battles and complete victories, I shall be happy," Sakura says with her straightest face, before giggling like a school girl at Giri's paling cheeks.
"You are cruel, Sakura-sama."
"Of course I am, I was in a team with your father for almost three decades."
Kiseki looks between them like they're passing a ball, an amazed expression on his sweet face. Sakura doesn't mention the sharingan he must have activated on accident, and neither does Giri. She was born without the kekkai genkai, and knew how happy Sasuke was that Kiseki inherited the eyes.
"I've invited Kiseki and his friends for a cup of tea and a chat. I believe they are quite interested in the war stories involving my husband."
"I'm glad to hear that, Sakura-sama."
"Give my regards to my son, will you? You should both take a small break, I wouldn't mind taking care of Kiseki for a few days."
Giri looks unmistakably grateful at the offer and bows respectfully before vanishing. Kiseki takes off running, promising to come back later for tea. Sakura shakes her head fondly and continues her path towards the Hokage's office. She longs for her son to accept the Clan Head position so she can step down. She's been leading the Nara clan for almost twenty years now, and she'd like a vacation. Or at least for those painful Council sessions to stop.
The room is already full by the time she steps inside. She hides a smirk when she sees Kakashi, looking younger than her and sitting at Suisen's right. Ino's son looks as sharp as ever in his Hokage's robes, his blond hair and blue eyes a painful reminder of the precious people they lost.
The session begins and Sakura is becoming quickly bored. Most of the matters addressed aren't relevant to her clan and she quite frankly doesn't give a fuck about the trade routes being slowed down by a caravan from Kumo. But she might have the second most powerful position in the entire village and her presence has been mandatory for the better half of her life.
Kakashi sends up a sharp look, sharper than his tremendously old age should allow him to. She carefully checks that no one is looking her way before sticking her tongue out. His eyes go wide and he tries his best to hide a snort of laughter. She does her best not to feel smug about it.
Finally, Suisen frees them from the torture and Sakura leaves the room side by side with Shino and Chōji, her only friends still sharing her difficult (ahem) position of Clan Head. She nods towards Shiawase, Giri's younger sister and actual Uchiha Clan Head. The young woman bows, her dark skin and brown hair an impressive contrast in front of the white wall.
Sakura still has no idea how Sasuke managed to score a wife as kind, honourable, pretty and terrifying as Kumui. He came back with her one day, declared that they got married in Kumo and that anyone who had a problem with this could take it up to his wife because she was way scarier than him. Despite being a civilian and missing a leg. No one asked. If Giri took her father's colourings, Shiawase looks a great deal more like her mother despite having the sharingan, albeit a weak version of it.
Chōji walks her home and she kisses him on the cheek before going inside. She could already hear the chatter and laughter of the children in her garden. Sakura joins them, not surprised to find Kiseki gathering medicinal plants, helped by his friends. She's even less surprised to recognize in them a good portion of the Konoha 11's legacy.
Sakura will never get rid of the bitter taste in her mouth when she can't find any mop of black hair, or any white eyes. She knows she should be grateful that a good half of her promotion survived the Fifth War, but the price is too much in her eyes. Iwa has been wiped out from the map and is now Land of Fire territory. Kiri and Konoha are the strongest villages, and most of Kumo's ninja moved to the Land of Wind, where they established a new Kumo. The ashes of the old one where still burning when Kiri made it their. There are only three great nations now, and it's mostly on Iwa's greedy hands.
Yet Hinata was killed in the first days of the war, followed by Lee a few weeks later. How is that fair, that two of the sweetest persons in her village died so soon? Looking at the children playing before her eyes, Sakura has to fight against the frown she can feel twisting her features. She lost her best friend in the whole word in this fucking war, and no one managed to replace the Naruto-shaped hole in her heart. And if that wasn't enough, Shikamaru gave his life to ensure that peace would last. The Fifth War took everything from her, and if it hadn't been for her sons, Sakura would have found a way to bring them back and to hell with her soul and principles.
"Sobo-sama! You're home!"
At Kiseki's shout, everyone turns around to look at the legend standing in a kimono and tight bun, with a soft smile on her wrinkled face. After the Fifth War, people started calling her Titan. She has never heard a more ridiculous nickname, and her promotion has made sure not to let her forget it as the years went by, prompting their children to call her that, and later their grandchildren.
(in her defence, how could she know that destroying the entirety of Iwa's defensive wall with the press of a finger and throwing the massive door in the Tsuchikage's face would result in this nonsense?) (yes, she knows she's a hypocrite)
"I'm glad to see all of you. Has anyone brought you tea, yet?"
Murasaki points in the direction of the tray, under the shadow of a sakura tree. Her face turns three shades darker under Sakura's amused eyes. She goes to kneel next to the tray and pours herself a cup. The children quietly gather around her, her three grandchildren closer to her. Sōga nestles under her arm, her green eyes closing slowly as she waits for the story. Yaseika leans on Kiseki's shoulder, his new clan marking slowly healing on his round cheeks.
"You're all here to hear about your grandparents and the stories of their battles in the Fourth and Fifth war, yes?"
"Well, last week I told you about my first partner, Inuzuka Kiba." She has to stop when Yaseika and Sōga start cheering. "This week, I have for you the tale of Konoha's greatest mind, who was also my husband. His name was Nara Shikamaru, and he is the reason the Land of Fire still stands today."