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Past is Prologue

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A Senju unit was moving among the trees, coming back from Uchiha land where they had been sent to scout the clan's forces. Suddenly, the wind picked up, whipping their hair around their foreheads. That wasn't enough to slow them down and they surged through the vortex of air pressure that had formed.

At least until the man taking the rear freaked out and jerked backwards. The change in direction had him falling out of the tree he had been about to jump from. It happened so fast that no one was able to stop his free fall.

The man's back hit the ground hard, a groan escaping his lips. Although they'd only just made it back onto Senju territory, no one had been chasing them. They felt safe enough to jump down to join their comrade.

"What happened?"

Sitting up slowly, the man pointed up at the tree he'd fallen from. "This woman appeared out of nowhere. It looked like a whole other world, I couldn't see any of you behind her. There was only an oddly colored landscape." One member of his group raised his eyebrow questioningly. "She had long sweeping white hair, like a ghost! And a third eye." The men surrounding him sighed, yanking him back to his feet by his arms.

"You must have really clunked your head on the ground pretty hard. Stop making up stories." Flabbergasted, he stuttered, trying to come up with the right words to make them understand what he had witnessed. Before he could come up with anything his friend slammed his hand against his mouth.

"Do you hear that?"

At first there was silence but through the wind came the cries of an infant. If he hadn't fallen out of the tree they would not have heard it at all. The men looked at one another, knowing it could be a trap. The Uchiha had never played fair and bringing a child into the field seemed like the kind of despicable thing they would do. Still the pitiful cries tugged on their war weary hearts. It was impossible not to at least check.

As a scouting team, they already had the skills they needed to observe without being noticed. Nodding at each other, the four men took to the trees once again, heading towards the sounds. What they discovered was something they weren't expecting. They had themselves prepared for an ambush but all they found was a pink haired baby cradled in its mother's arms.

It was squirming, trying to make its way out of its swaddle. The mother and father lay deathly still, clothes caked in blood from their wounds. The bodies were already stiff, but the mother's was partially hiding the child. Before her passing she had obviously tried to protect the little bundle.

What sickened them most was that these people were civilians. There weren't any weapons on them at all. The family must have just been passing through and accidentally found their way onto the warring clans' territories. Either bandits or Uchiha had gotten to them. No self-respecting Senju would go after civilians. It would be a misuse of their power.

One of the men drew his sword, approaching the baby. The man who had fallen pulled him back. "What are you doing?!"

"It's suffering."

"That doesn't mean you just kill a kid."

They glared at each other. "Then what do you suppose we do? Take it in and raise it?" He sneered, "We don't even know where it's from."

"I didn't say that, we could give her to a barren civilian family. Let us have Butsuma-sama decide." Coming to the decision that bringing the baby to him was the best solution, they pried the child from its mother's cold arms. The crying stopped immediately. That was when they noticed the blood that had dripped down onto the infant's blanket. It had stained it in a blossoming shape. Bundling the baby up tighter, they took off towards the Senju compound once again.

They came upon it quicker than normal, as they'd sped up when the child started to cry as they jumped into the trees. Landing outside the walls, the guard eyed them wearily; appearing with a screaming bundle of joy was unusual.

Without hesitation they filed in towards the clan leader's quarters, the baby quickly quieted again when it realized they were no longer traveling at mind numbing speeds. The four shinobi eagerly knocked upon his door, wanting to rid themselves from the child before it started to cry again.

The door was yanked open by their angry leader, who growled out, "What do you want?" Somewhere from within the house they heard a sobbing woman. It was certainly his wife and the men worried they had interrupted a fight with the pregnant woman. Young Tobirama stood behind his father, watching them with his unnerving red eyes.

The couple had three other children but they were nowhere in their line of sight. "We found a baby, Sir. Civilian born. Its parents are deceased." The man's eyes shot down to the bundle of cloth in one of his men's arms. Sneering, he told them to dispose of it. As if the child knew what he was suggesting it gave out one loud wail then went silent.

Suddenly, there were sound of scampering feet and Hashirama came around the corner followed by his other two younger brothers. His eyes were rimmed red from crying and he sniffed as he paused at the hallway entrance, staring at his father's back. "Mom is trying to get up."

Butsuma looked alarmed for a moment before he spun around and stomped off towards where the children emerged from. The four shinobi glanced at one another, considering their options. Hashirama sniffed once more before turning away, followed by all except Tobirama. The second oldest stared them down, then nodded his head, "Come in." Afterwards, he turned and trailed after his family. Following his example, they did the same.

They stood outside a bedroom, watching the main family from the entrance.

In the room with the leader's wife was the clan's midwife. The lady must have gone into labor while they were away on their mission. Yet the somber mood in the room didn't fit the celebration of the birth of their fifth heir. The motionless baby in the midwife's lap gave the situation away.

The long haired woman, after having given birth was attempting to stand. "My baby, my baby!" She cried out, trying to disengage herself from the grip her husband had on her arm. "I heard my baby." She turned her head towards the door and caught sight of the shinobi standing there. Her eyes locked onto the child, tears stopping. She wiped at them with her free hand, then with one hard yank she'd freed herself from Butsuma.

She smacked his hand away when he tried to grab hold of her again. Sitting back down, she demanded they bring the pink haired child to her. Her husband stepped back in frustration, but let her have her way. Arguing with her in her condition would do his wife no good. The bundle was handed to her and she stared down at the flushed baby with relish. Her baby was okay, that old hag of a midwife had lied to her.

Smiling, she hugged the infant to her chest, "My little girl. Now…what should I name you?" Her fingers brushed up against something crusty on the blanket. Moving it a bit, she noticed the blossoming pattern. "Oh yes, Sakura Senju. Sounds nice doesn't it, Butsuma?" Her eyes lifted up to her husband's face. She looked lost in a dream. Of all the cruel things he had done in his life this just wasn't one of them. He knew she was being delusional but he couldn't take this away from her.

"Yes, it is a nice name." The sole female Senju sibling was buried without having ever taken a single breathe. Sakura was a pureblooded Senju. No one outside the main family, besides those four shinobi, the midwife, and possibly the guard at the entrance knew any differently. They'd be suspicious, there had never been a Senju with pink hair or green eyes before after all, but the lady's pregnancy would deter most of that.

Months later, little baby Sakura was surrounded by her brothers. Hashirama, at nine years old, knew they weren't related by blood. He still treated her just like he would have his blood bonded little sister. To him she was truly his sister, nothing else mattered.

Tobirama was two years younger but just as perceptive. It was obvious that his mother hadn't given birth to Sakura. The first time he saw her was with those shinobi. At the same time he didn't understand enough about blood ties to know that the little pink haired girl wasn't his true sister. Kawarama and Itama were oblivious to the situation. She was just their sister.

Still the siblings had their issues.

Kawarama tickled her foot while Itama looked on in jealousy. Hashirma shook a stuffed toy in her face, happy to see her giggle with joy. A stupid grin slid onto his lips, making Tobirama shake his head at his foolish brother. He might not think much of it but he still stayed close and watched them play. The white haired boy may have not even held his sister yet, but it was his responsibility as an older brother to a little girl to protect her. Even if it was from their oldest sibling's lack of intelligence.

It was lucky he was here because without warning Hashirama accidentally dropped the toy onto her face. Before the brown haired boy could even blink Tobirama had plucked it up and threw it at him. "Be careful, you could have suffocated her." That started a fight about his lack of attention and supposed stupidity. The two boys were still battling it out on the floor when Itama toddled passed them towards the door, carrying Sakura with him.

Kawarama looked on in confusion. "Where ya takin' her, Itama?" The other two siblings stopped their fight, turning to see what Kawaram was talking about. Itama was trying to open the door while balancing Sakura.

"Imma gonna give her back to the kami."

"Itama, no!" Tobirama jumped forward before Hashirama could, yet again, and stole the pink haired baby from Itama.

It was quite a new experience for the red eyed boy, having never held a baby before. He stared down at her, surprised when she gazed back up at him, not frightened of his unusual eyes. She cooed at him, grabbing his finger that was close to her face. Just like that, while holding onto him, she dozed off to sleep.

Tobirama felt his heart swell in a way he'd never experienced before. His brothers had been able to protect themselves ever since he could remember, but Sakura was so little. So defenseless in a time of war. He promised himself he'd protect her with his life. No one would get passed him, or Hashirama for that matter. The Senju were strong and capable of protecting this one little child

Four years later he felt the same way. He just hadn't realized how hard it would be. Sakura was missing again and he didn't know how it kept happening. At eleven years old Tobirama was the best tracker the Senju had ever seen. His sensory skills were off the charts. No one was ever able to sneak up on him or hide from him for long.

Except Sakura of course. He swore her chakra signal was near nonexistent, he had to be touching her just to sense it. It hadn't bothered him so much before, at least until she started to sneak off. The first time it happened the whole family freaked out, except his father, believing she'd been kidnapped.

Only she'd come back a few hours later. Clothes a little worse for wear but with her goofy smile intact. She'd given each of them a flower she'd picked from a meadow outside of the Senju compound and then waddled off. His father was actually a little impressed. Then he'd reached over to Hashirama and ordered him on guard duty when he wasn't on the battle field. He couldn't have his wife losing control every time she couldn't find the little girl.

Hashirama had obviously failed terribly and then Tobirama had been assigned to the position. It kept getting worse though. It didn't matter how much they'd upped their security, she kept finding a way through. He knew she sometimes just stayed within the compound when she wandered off, she reappeared far too quickly for her to have always taken a trek outside their boundaries.

Even so close, they couldn't find her unless she wanted to be found. That's why Tobirama had gone from just keeping a vague eye on her to watching her 24/7. He had wanted to see what she would do. He hadn't thought she'd still be able to mount a disappearing act. All it takes is one second of looking away and she'd be gone. It was making him paranoid.

He'd even done that quick head turn thing when he realized his gaze had wandered. Each time the other clan members looked at him as if he was crazy and Sakura would just innocently be standing in the same place. It was making him insane, especially after what happened to Kawarama and Itama. He'd failed them both.

The worst was when he thought about how Sakura would never be able to remember them that well. Kawarama had loved her dearly and been a fierce, proud shinobi. Itama had warmed up to her when she'd learned to walk. For some reason the bi-colored haired boy had been her favorite, even after the multiple attempts on her life.

She had followed after him like a lost puppy, seemingly more impressed by his simple jutsu than Hashirama's wood style. The boy had appreciated that a lot. Her first word had been his name. Their mother was devastated, but after that Itama liked to pretend he was the only one who could interpret her babbling. He had said mean things in her stead, as he had liked to say.

Hashirama had tried to tread on his translator territory once and had gotten a bloody nose for his efforts. Mother was the only one allowed to do that besides himself. Tobirama had laughed quite a bit that day. It seemed ages since he'd laughed that hard. Their deaths had hardened him even more than the war already had.

So he hated how Sakura would go missing but searching was futile. It was just impossible to find her without setting eyes on the wandering imp. Hashirama had been sneaking about lately also, though he never looked for him as he did his sister. For now he would just head home.

Sakura grinned from her hiding place in a bush, Tobirama had finally stopped looking. She'd won this round of hide and seek, like always. She struggled out from under the bush, ripping her shirt in the process. Her mother always dressed her in a kimono at the start of the day. Sakura didn't like this much and ditched the clothing as soon as she decided to take a stroll. She borrowed some of her deceased brother's clothes instead.

For the most part the items fit her but they were extremely baggy. She honestly would have preferred something prettier, she just liked comfort and flexibility more. One day she'd be a great ninja just like her brothers. She needed a better range of movement to do so. Better not to get used to kimono now and have to change it later.

Examining the rip in her clothing and deciding it really didn't matter, she trotted on. For about a year now, she had been draw to a particular spot. She didn't know why that was, but she couldn't fight it. Even after she realized it was close to Uchiha land, she still came. She never stayed very long, just looked about as if she was expecting something to show up. After a little while, she would start to get a feeling as if she was in danger. She'd leave immediately.

As she stood there today, admiring how large the trees around her really were, she heard a splashing noise. Nothing she hadn't heard before while she was here, but the splashing continued this time. In a repetitive manner. Someone was nearby.

More curious than alarmed, Sakura headed off towards the sound. After a little bit the trees opened up and there was a boy standing next to a river. He was tossing rocks into it and they were gliding across, until it would sink halfway. She was amazed, she's never seen anything like it. "Woah."

The boy spun around so quickly that his long blue shirt was picked up by the breeze. Black met jade and the little girl felt magnetized to this boy, just like she did to her spot. The boy's brows furrowed as he stared at the little pink haired girl before him. She didn't seem like a shinobi, more like a homeless urchin. Her clothes were dirty and ripped. The way they hung on her frame made it seem like she probably hadn't eaten a good meal in months.

She had either lost her family, or they were poor. Neither case was uncommon. Her looks didn't match any known clan and she didn't hold herself like a shinobi. The brat wasn't any threat to him. "Who are you, Kid?" She didn't answer, but came closer to look into the river.

"How did you do that?"

"You mean this?" He watched her closely but skipped another rock, though it failed to reach the other side yet again.

She clapped anyway. "Cool!" He felt himself puff up at the admiration he was getting, hoping Hashirama wasn't going to show up anytime soon and ruin it. The showoff would make sure she saw his stone reach the other side and even comment on Madara's lack of ability. For now it was his time to shine. If the little peasant hadn't seen anyone successfully skip a stone before, he wasn't going to tell her he failed at it.

He skipped a few more, some even almost making it all the way across, but soon realized he'd never gotten an answer to his question. "What's your name?"

She gave him a too big smile, "Sakura. Who you?"

No last name given but probably more of an age thing than a shinobi creed. Though he had seen shinobi as young as her on the field, just not female ones. "Madara."

She tested the name, as if it tasting something for the first time. "Ma-da-ra."

"That's right, don't screw it up." She nodded and then rudely walked back off into the forest, leaving him scratching his head. He went back to his stone skipping, waiting for Hashirama to show up while wondering why he hadn't noticed her coming up behind him. A while later a flower was stuck up near his nose, mid-swing of his arm. He freaked out, backpedaling away from the child.

For the second time Sakura had snuck up on him and he didn't like it one bit. The first time he'd been alerted to her presence before she got too close, but this time she'd made it right beside him without him noticing. It would be a frightening skill for a shinobi to have.

She walked to him and tried to give him the flower again. It was a daisy, a very common flower. "Here you go. Now you throw rocks." He was forced to accept the flower but he was quite confused. "Mama always says to 'give and take' when I want something." Oh, she wanted to see him throw more and this was his payment. His payment was a damn daisy. He shrugged and then continued skipping his stones to the sound of her clapping.

That was the first time he became a show pony for flowers. He had a strange feeling that this was going to happen a lot.