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Sakura has a pattern of two tomoes dancing around each other in repetitive intervals around her neck as a black collar.

Seeing it and knowing about the heritage of his family is how Sasuke is absolutely sure that she’s his soulmate.

The way the mark oppresses her slender neck and brands her as irrevocably taken is how he knows her love will be unwavering.

Some people have soulmate tattoos, but the bond is weak, just a mark to show that they’re not alone in the world. But Sakura’s bond mark is a testimony of the strength of her love.

It makes Sasuke sick to his stomach. He doesn’t know if her mark is a representation of his own possessiveness or a way of the universe to repay him for all the things it stole from him. Either way, he knows, that mark is Sakura’s penitence, a shackle to imprison her.

It couldn’t possibly be love.

His own mark looks like a joke compared to hers. Just a single cherry blossom tattooed on the palm of his hand. As to represent the ownership he has on her.

“This blossom means you’ll always have a home at the reach of your hand.” Explains Sakura, tracing the edges of the flower petals tattooed on his palm. “It’s your choice to accept this new chance at love, it will always be your choice.”

She sounds wise beyond her years. Smart in a way he can’t hope to understand, even as a prodigy.

That is his favourite thing about her; the way she sometimes makes him feel stupid, the way she makes practical math in battle to send a well placed kunai at her enemy, the way she sometimes spaces out on her own head, thinking and forgetting even him.

“And what does your mark mean?” he asks, his fingers tracing the air over the patterns on her neck. Not yet willing to touch the signs of her bondage.

“It means I’m yours.” She proclaims blinded by her yet childish love. Not understanding the meaning behind her words. Seeing the slavery of her heart still with pink tainted glasses.

She will learn to appreciate her independence one day, will grow strong as the Kunoichi, he knows, she has the potential to be.

She will fall in love with herself as much as he loves her.

Even if he still doesn’t know how to love her as a girl or the woman she will become.

Maybe she’ll even learn to hate him.

He doesn’t think about or even sees other girls or women when he eventually leaves her. Can’t feel love nor lust for anyone else. He always thought their bond was unilateral, because his mark was so small, almost insignificant when compared to hers.

But he knows now that he’s incapable of loving other women as he loved her when they were still children playing at being adults and killing machines.

When he comes back to her, he does it by grasping her hand with his own tattooed one. By reaching home with his own hand, his own decision.

She as repayment shows her neck on full display. The same neck he once gripped with red blinding fury. She let’s him kiss her at the back of her neck, allows him to rest his pink blossom in the black tomoes tattooed on her skin.

Hides his face in the secret between her head and her shoulders as he wakes up in bed, panting and crying from the nightmares he can’t escape.

He learns to love the chains that bind him to her, learns to appreciate the representation of his soul branded on her own.

Learns to love himself as much as she loves him.