konoha has gods.
ancient spirits born when the sage himself blessed the earth with chakra. born from the blood of the thousands that died in the roots of the forest.
the people worshipped them, long, long ago. they made shrines and offerings, pleaded and prayed and slowly, as decades passed on and on, they stopped. once magnificent shrines became a husk of their former purpose, vines that twined and plants that flourished in the cracks and corners of the building.
such shrines are the one sakura stumbles into.
she was dirty and filthy, knees scratched and dress soaked with mud after proving to ino-chan that I can do it too! and the building was scary and intimidating like the stories her grandma used to tell her, but little sakura was a curious curious thing and she heard, knows, deep in her bones that she's safesafesafe here, in the cradle of the forest itself.
so little sakura walks; past the flowers, the vines, the bright red gates and enters to a sanctuary no one with a beating heart had stepped in for more than a hundred years.
something is waiting.
oh little one, it croons, the wind caressing sakura's hair, how long have I've waited for you. it sounded sweet, like sakura's mother did when she's telling bedtime stories.
"hello," sakura said, because mother said to be always polite, "my name is sakura, who are you?"
and the–voice, spirit, goddess–laughed, heavenly, and flowers bloomed with the sound.
it's the most beautiful laugh sakura had ever heard.
oh, it–she–hummed, the sound vibrating to her bones, you're perfect, little sakura.