Some time in the Future....
The sun streams through the window, as Sakura pulls on her more ceremonial sword, strapping it to her side, instead of her back. A chakra signature flares behind her, so Sakura doesn't startle when Shisui wraps his arms around her from behind, and kisses her cheek.
"It's a beautiful day for this special graduation ceremony."
Intertwining her fingers with his, Sakura teases
"All graduation ceremonies are special, especially ones where a Haruno graduates."
Sighing dramatically, Shisui squeezes her gently.
"Even you have to admit this one is a little more special, Petal. It's not every day our son graduates to Genin, after all."
Laughing, Sakura pulls out of the embrace and turns to face her husband.
"You're right, you're right. Speaking of, you didn't let slip who his Jounin instructor is, did you?"
Shisui runs a hand through his curls, grinning.
"Yeah, like I want to be the one to break the news that his future holds a lot of green spandex. He's still holding out for 'Uncle Naruto'."
A crow materializes in the room. Sakura nods respectfully at it, recognizing it as one of Itachi's. When she turns to look at Shisui again, he's carrying his ANBU gear.
"That's my cue."
As she leans in for a kiss, she hears a loud 'WOAH!' coming from the vague direction she'd last seen her child in. She sighs,
"And... That's mine."
They part quickly, Shisui disappearing out the window and Sakura headed towards the courtyard. Shisui, as part of Itachi's Hokage Guard, has to work even on special occasions. Fortunately, Itachi makes a point to come to the Genin graduation every year, so he won't miss anything. Sakura slides the door open just in time to narrowly avoid being impaled by a tree branch. Ducking to the side, Sakura sees their decorative cherry tree, which is usually not this big, is growing at a wild rate, up, and out. It's already taller than the house, and the side branches are shattering windows and smacking against walls. At the trunk, is Tenzou, looking alarmed and franctically making handsigns. Next to him is the culprit, Pink curls flying wild, childlike glee on his face.
"SAKUMO HARUNO, WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING TO OUR TREE?!"
Sakura storms out the door, and two very guilty faces look up at her. the tree growth stops immediately.
"Mama, look what Uncle Tenzou taught me! I can use Mokuton!"
Sakumo, in all his twelve year old glory, smiles happily up at her with his dark eyes, and Sakura can recognize a puppy face when she sees one but-
"You can use WHAT?"
Tenzou scratches the back of his head and chuckles nervously.
"Er.. Surprise? It was meant to be a little calmer of a display, but I think the excitement... Well, anyway. I'll fix it!"
Partners in crime, the two of them. Sakura sighs exasperatedly. Looking at their twin puppy faces, they might as well be brothers. Pinching the bridge of her nose, Sakura decides to put aside the obvious lecture of the right time to spring things on her being not LESS THAN TEN MINUTES BEFORE THEY NEED TO LEAVE, but seeing the excitement on her son's face, Sakura asks a question instead.
"How? One of you better explain this."
Sakumo bounces on his toes.
"Okay! So you know how I can use Earth and Water, just like you?"
"And you know how I have perfect chakra control, just like you?"
Sakura can be patient.
"And you know how I unlocked my Sharingan?"
As if Sakura could ever forget it. Only a few months ago...
She'd just gotten back from the village from a rather lengthy mission with Kakashi, and upon coming home, had come upon a basic clone that was clearly meant to serve as a decoy. Sakura had done some quick detective work and arrived just in time to see her son, and his best friend, Inojin Uchiha throwing kunai at each other while blindfolded in the tallest trees in the Nara forest. Sensing her arrival, the boys had spun around to greet her, ripped off their blindfolds, and fell out of their respective trees. It would have been hilarious, how identical their actions were, if they weren't falling far enough to kill themselves. Sakura had thrown some kunai of her own and pinned them to their tree trunks. Sakumo had awakened his Sharingan right then and there. Inojin ended up awakening his in the ensuing lecture he got from Ino. The boys were so excited they showed no regrets whatsoever.
"Well, Uncle Tenzou was doing his Mokuton and I watched him with my Sharingan and then I tried it later and it worked!"
Tenzou narrows his eyes at Sakumo.
"Okay, so maybe it didn't work the first time. But it did SOMETHING. Uncle Tenzou caught me and said I could only train on it if we did it together so I wanted to surprise you!"
Sakura wants to scold them both, but in the wake of the awe on her son's face, and the knowledge that he's just recreated naturally one of the greatest jutsu styles of all time, she can't find it in herself to be mad. She walks over and ruffles Sakumo's hair.
"Well, I am surprised. Go and get ready, or we're going to be late to your graduation!"
He sprints off to go grab his new headband, and Sakura levels a look at Tenzou,
"You, are not off the hook. We are talking about this later."
Tenzou nods seriously, but he's smiling too. The implications of this are huge, and Sakura looks forward to talking it over with her fellow Clan Head. Sakumo runs back, shiny new headband on his bright face, and the three of them head towards the Academy.
As they walk along, Sakura reflects on how much the village has changed, after the war. Nothing more so than the Clans. The first, and most shocking for the remaining village elders was when the Yamanaka, Nara, and Akimichi Clans had come forward together with new Clan Heirs, and documentation for changing the way Clan Heirs were selected. No more would the Clan heir pass from parent to child, instead, in these three clans, the Heir would be chosen due to merit. It shouldn't have surprised people as much as it did, what with Chouza not having a living heir, Shikamaru moving to Sand to marry Temari, and Ino marrying Sasuke, and becoming part of the Head Uchiha family. The shockwaves hadn't stopped there. Hinata had stepped down as the Hyuga Head after declaring her intent to marry Naruto and become an Uzumaki. Neji had been confirmed as the new Head immediately, and despite grumbling from the elders, no one contested his right.
Sakura was proud of them, and proud of her own Clan. She and Tenzou had decided to become Twin Clan Heads, which had never been done before. It made sense, Sakura thought, for their Clan. No one person in the Haruno Clan needed to make all the decisions. Having two mitigated that. Tenzou had retired from active Shinobi work, and had since developed a comprehensive initiative for orphans and non-Clan children throughout Konoha. The Haruno Clan would offer to sponser any orphaned or non-Clan child through the Academy, and after graduation, were invited to join the Clan. At first, Tenzou had faced an incredible amount of backlash, and was accused of trying to 'farm' new recruits for their Clan. It had culminated with Tenzou making a speech, declaring the Haruno Clan's intent to not let any children fall through the cracks. He'd made the case that Danzou had snatched up abandoned and vulnerable children into the shadows, and with the Haruno Clan, this would not be allowed to happen again. The speech had been beautiful. Sakura had shed a tear, and she knew she wasn't the only one.
Now, Konoha as a whole had never been better. Itachi's advisory board, including Civilians, and ninja of differing ages and ranks, had helped the village immensely. A lot of the success Sakura thought could directly be attributed to Itachi himself. His quiet nature led him to listen and think things through before speaking and making decisions. He'd eventually taken Sakura up on her offer to talk, and Sakura had spent several months familiarizing herself with therapy methods, and had started meeting with Itachi regularly. He'd improved so greatly, Sakura had gone straight to Inoichi and together they had formed a mental health initiative, which Sakura had even taken part in herself.
As Sakura, Sakumo, and Tenzou walk along, Sakura smiles at the playing children, and the bright day. It really is a perfect day for a graduation. As they draw near the Academy, Sakura sees a sparring match taking place. The two participants are hamming it up, and both are yelling. The bright orange and green give the participants away. Naruto and Lee, at it again. Sakumo grins, and runs ahead, eager to join the growing crowd of young spectators.
She spots Guy refereeing the match. Guy hadn't entirely recovered from his injuries against Madara, and had been forced to retire. Never one to give up, Guy had then immediately applied at the Academy to be a taijutsu teacher and had been accepted eagerly. According to Sakumo, he was a class favorite.
He smiles and gives Sakura and Tenzou a wave, and calls the match to a close. Naruto and Lee bow to each other, before loudly proclaiming that after today, they would best the other by training 'the Best Genin in the Leaf!' Many of the watching children cheer, and Sakura knows that many graduates hope to end up on one of their teams. The Naruto/Lee rivalry was almost as famous as Kakashi and Guy's, and they could constantly be found competing throughout Konoha, on everything from eating contests to sculpture to sparring. More often than not, Kakashi or Guy could be found refereeing.
The crowd starts to file into the Academy's courtyard, which has been temporarily converted with seating for parents and Clan Heads. Whispers follow her,
"The Pink Fang. That's the Pink Fang."
She pretends not to notice. This happens about once a year when the Academy instructors go over famous ninja from the Leaf. Sakura can still remember the look on Kakashi's face when she'd first appeared in the Bingo book under that moniker. She'd been training extensively with her knives for years, and eventually made her way into the tanto as well. Being Kakashi's Jounin partner, most of what she picked up was the Hatake style, and it wasn't too long before she inherited the infamous name that Kakashi's Father held before her, with her own color. She imagined Sakumo laughing at her in the afterlife. She still hadn't told Kakashi about that particular meeting. Shisui had thought it was so funny when she'd told him that he'd insisted they name their son after him, to "keep his name in the family". At first, she'd protested, but then Shisui had brought it up in front of Kakashi, and the man had looked so incredibly touched that Sakura had finally agreed.
The whispers die away as the graduates head toward the stage. A smiling Iruka beckons each student to their marks. Sakura and Tenzou make their way to the seating for Clan Heads, and Sakura takes her seat next to Neji, who she greets with a smile. Neji inclines his head,
He's interrupted by Tenten leaning over him grinning widely,
"I can't believe our kids are graduating! It seems like just yesterday it was us, right Sakura?"
Sakura nods to cover her laughter. Neji sighs slightly at the interruption, but he's smiling at his wife, too. Further down the row, Sakura can see Ino elbowing Sasuke and talking animatedly to both him and their younger daughter Mikoto. Sasuke shoots Neji a look, which Neji returns. After all the initial rivalry between the two, they've ended up as close as brothers, and run the hospital together with a professionalism and efficiency that is unrivaled in all Ninja villages.
The ceremony begins when Itachi takes the stage and gives a traditional speech. Sakura tries to listen closely, since this year her own child is graduating, but she finds herself tuning out anyways. Speeches were just so boring, unless you were giving them and then they were terrifying. She picks Shisui out of the ANBU with her eyes, and throws him a wink, in case he happens to be doing the same thing she is. Next, she gazes over the graduates, just slightly larger than her own graduating class. Her eyes catch on her son. Sakumo is trying very hard to stay still, but he's bouncing on his toes, periodically adjusting his headband.
Itachi finishes his speech, and steps down. Iruka steps up to announce the graduates and their new teams. The graduates and parents alike lean forward in their seats in anticipation. Parents, especially Clan Heads, were allowed to make requests, but Itachi had made it so that Iruka got the final say. Almost no one knew what team their child would be on. Sakura knew only because Shisui had gone through the confidential files on Itachi's desk, and come home to tell her right away. Sakura felt pretty sure that Itachi had left the files out on purpose, but she'd never be able to prove it.
"Team 6! Headed by Sensei Rock Lee! Sakumo Haruno, Inojin Uchiha, and Kiba Inuzuka!"
Sakumo looks disappointed for only the briefest flash of a second, before Inojin grabs his arm excitedly, heading towards Lee. Sakura can't stop the little jolt in her heart every time she hears Kiba's name, but Hana is cheering wildly at her son from the Clan Head area, and Shino is nodding proudly, and Sakura lets the feeling pass, and focuses on the present. Shino had taken the Inuzuka name, and he and Hana had unanimously agreed to name their son Kiba. The boy looked far more like Hana than Shino, but he wore his own trademark goggles. He smiles at his parents before walking calmly over to join the rest of his team. Lee looks like the sun has come into the sky for the very first time, looking at his team. Two Sharingan users and the first ever bug and dog user, all on the same team. Lee is definitely going to have his hands full.
To Sakura's amusement and everyone else's alarm, Naruto's Team 7 consists of Genma's son, and the Hyuga twins.
Sakura knows that when Tenten was pregnant, Neji, proud as a peacock, was secretly hoping for a calm heir. He couldn't have been more wrong. Neji's twin daughters were pranksters to rival Naruto himself, and their loud laughter and rambunctious love of weapons were much more Tenten than Neji. The Hyuga Head pretended to be exasperated, but he could never hide his smile, or his pride at his two daughters, unburdened by the old Hyuga ways.
The Shiranui boy took after Genma in every way, cool headed and sarcastic. When he'd entered the Academy, the Hyuga girls had more or less adopted him as the strategist, and the three of them had been causing headaches for Iruka ever since. Putting them together as Genin might be seen as a crazy move, but Sakura sees it for what it is. The three of them know the meaning of Teamwork, and only someone like Naruto could keep up with all that energy.
The new Team 7 promised chaos for everyone involved. The girls linked their arms through their new male teammate's and they all happily made their way over to Naruto.
Three other teams are sorted, and Sakura claps politely for all of them. Every Clan in Konoha was represented one way or another, a good sign for the health of the village, Sakura thinks. She'd like to say they were in a time of peace. But they are ninja, there is no such thing. After the war, relations with Iwa had understandably declined incredibly, after the death of Onoki. Lightning had taken their side, and while there was currently no war, there wasn't much friendship there either, with the remarkable exception of Naruto and B, who refused publicly to fight each other, and kept up a correspondence. Mist, grateful for the swordsman Sakura had sent their way, had become allies with the Leaf, while Shikamaru's marriage to the Kazekage only solidified the relationship between the Sand and the Leaf.
No, things weren't perfect, and they never would be. But the village was here, all the villages were here. They were alive, and still growing, and fighting, and loving. The gravity of the moment takes hold of Sakura's heart, and her eyes fill with tears. Instinctively, she looks to Naruto, who gives her the brightest smile, which causes one of her tears to slip down her cheek. Turning down the aisle, she catches Sasuke's eye, and his are glistening too, but maybe that's just the light. She's sure he'd swear it was, anyway.
Iruka brings the ceremony to a close. They all stand, and cheer on the new graduates. A small pop sounds behind her.
"I got lost on the road of life. Hope I didn't miss anything!"
Sakura snorts indelicately, and wipes the tear off her face, smacking her Jounin partner in the same motion.
"Kakashi, I saw you sitting on the wall watching the whole thing."
He hums non committally.
The Jounin sensei circle up their new Genin, no doubt informing them of the team building tests that will be taking place the next day, after the celebrations this evening. Itachi takes his leave, and Shisui and a handful of other ANBU follow him. Sakura watches Sakumo, Inojin, and Kiba's faces grow from excitement, to horror, to excitement again as they take in whatever Lee is telling them.
She smiles. No, not everything is perfect. But right now, her world is.