Sakura glanced around at the festivities with a wry smile. She liked the casual, inviting celebrations that these people hosted. There were innumerable bonfires and Sakura made out the figures of many civilians and shinobi alike dancing around them in the fading light. There were games and different merchants from all corners of the world. Everyone was gathered to celebrate the founding of the great shinobi nation. Her heart lifted to see these people, her people (at least, their descendants would be), so happy.
“Sakura!” Itama called, carrying two beverages.
Sakura turned to him with a smile, softening at the nervousness that seemed to permeate the air around him. “Thank you Itama,” she said, brushing hands with him as she grabbed the beverage.
Itama’s face turned multiple shades of red. “N-no problem, Sakura!”
“What is it?” she asked, swirling the liquid with a slight frown. Sakura didn’t want anything to do with alcohol tonight.
“It’s cider. Don’t worry, it’s not alcoholic!” Itama said, lifting the warm drink to his own lips.
Sakura took a sip, eyes widening. “It’s delicious!” She was surprised that future Konoha, her Konoha, didn’t have the cider. It was warm and spiced and just plain fantastic.
“I’m glad you like it,” a new voice stated. “After all, it is a family recipe.”
Sakura turned, eyes brightening as she caught sight of Uzumaki Mito, her long red hair loose. She was dressed in a gorgeous blue tunic above dark leggings and boots. “Mito-sama,” she greeted. “How are you today?”
“I’d be better if you’d stop with the suffixes,” Mito replied, wrapping an arm around Sakura’s.
Sakura smiled diplomatically, well used to such demands. They occurred daily after all. “You are a foreign dignitary; it would be rude of me to call you by any other name.” Uzushiogakure was making overtures of alliance with the yet-named village of Konoha and Mito and nearly fifty other Uzumaki were present for the ceremony. Sakura hoped that, with her future knowledge, she could keep Naruto’s homeland from being destroyed.
Mito pouted, transforming her from a diplomat of the Uzumaki to something much closer to Sakura’s heart: Naruto.
“You look beautiful tonight Mito-sama,” Sakura said, trying to distract herself from the pain of her memories.
Mito flushed a bright red, turning her attention to Itama. “I was going to ask you to the celebration, Sakura, if this rascal hadn’t asked you first!”
Sakura ignored her flickering surprise as Itama cleared his throat. “Speaking of which, would you care to dance Sakura?”
Sakura grinned. “I’d love to.”
She waved goodbye to Mito, accepting Itama’s hand as he led her closer to one of the bonfires. “I don’t know the steps,” Sakura said confidingly.
Itama smiled, eyes crinkling upwards in the corners. “Neither do I. Just…make your own way.” He glanced toward the twirling partners who clapped and stomped around the bonfire. The outer circle was filled with individuals playing different types of drums. It created a thrumming beat that seeped into Sakura’s bones. “I’ll keep up.”
Sakura laughed, hesitation disappearing as she leaped into the crowd. She stomped and clapped among the crush of people, grinning brightly as she watched Itama’s face in the flickering heat of the fire. He was enjoying himself and honestly so was she.
She turned, performing a rather complicated twist and flip (without the aid of chakra) before looking back at her partner.
Sharingan bright eyes gazed back at her.
Sakura reared back in surprise before firming her mouth.
She had to resist the urge to push him into the blazing fire at his back when he offered her his hand. She took it and he lifted a graceful arm, sending her spinning.
“Madara,” she greeted cordially as they drew back together.
“Sakura,” he replied in a near purr, satisfied smile making him look much younger, almost boyish.
Sakura resisted the urge to roll her eyes, lithely stepping around him while keeping eye contact. “Where’s Itama?” she asked, struggling to keep up the polite veneer.
“Occupied,” he said, daring to skirt his fingers over her bare forearm.
Sakura barely had a chance to shiver before another figure stood before her, shoving Madara away.
“Tobirama?” Sakura said, eying the scowling tattooed man.
His scowl melted away and a smile took its place as he took in the sight of Sakura. She was a vision, no longer dressed in her usual shinobi wear. She was dressed practically in a rich, forest green tunic with short sleeves that was belted around the waist with red felt. Her stockings and boots were dark and soft. Sakura’s hair was in a low, loose tail and Tobirama’s fingers itched to touch it.
“Sakura,” he said, bowing over her hand.
Sakura valiantly fought back a snort but he still caught it, raising a brow even as his cheeks flushed. “Sorry,” she said, trying to keep her laughter down. “It’s just…the formality is a bit overdone for an event like this.” She flapped a hand at the revelry going on around her. “Wouldn’t you agree?”
A mischievous smile lit up his face, instantly raising Sakura’s sense of alarm. “Perhaps,” he mused, grabbing her around the waist and lifting her into the air.
For a moment, all was still as she stared down at him warningly. “Do not,” she began.
His smirk widened and Sakura found herself launched into the air, no doubt assisted by his chakra. She heard the exclamations and the laughter but Sakura did not worry.
She was a shinobi after all.
She flipped a few times in the air, briefly enjoying the bright lights and sounds from a new perspective before she landed lithely on her feet. A smattering of applause arose from the crowd and Sakura bowed with a bit of a flourish. It felt nice to show off sometimes.
She straightened only to look into bright blue eyes. At this point, Sakura wasn’t even shocked.
“Hello again, Mito-sama,” she greeted, trying to keep up with her ever-changing dance partners. A headache began to bloom behind her left eye and she immediately channeled her chakra there.
“Sakura!” Mito exclaimed happily, a flush high on her cheeks as she pulls Sakura into a fast-paced, high energy dance.
Sakura laughed as she smacked her hands against Mito’s to the rhythm of the drums, turning madly beneath the starry sky. Their laughter filled the air as Mito’s long hair whipped around wildly. Sakura ducked beneath it with a smile.
When she stood straight once more, another individual stood before her.
“Hashirama,” she said, continuing on with the dance. “Whatever happened to Mito-sama?”
“She’s busy with the other Uzumaki,” he replied with something like victory in his eyes.
Sakura glanced beyond Hashirama, catching sight of all of her former dance partners engaged in conversations.
All except Madara.
“Attention!” a voice demanded.
The merriment slowed and Sakura turned to the speaker. Madara stood upon a platform, a hand laced with chakra against his throat. Sakura turned an apologetic look to Hashirama, amusement bubbling up as he released a curse.
“Maybe next time,” she said, truly feeling bad for him.
He looked so defeated and upset. It was only a dance…
“Yeah,” he replied, mustering a slight smile and offering Sakura his arm. “Let’s go see what Madara wants shall we?”
Sakura reached out to take his arm just as Itama approached. “Sakura!” he exclaimed. “Sorry about that. Madara…” Itama trailed off, scratching at his cheek.
Sakura exchanged glances with Hashirama before taking Itama’s arm as well. Together, the three of them made their way into the assembly of people who clustered tightly around the platform. Hashirama squeezed Sakura’s hand before moving to take a place beside Madara on the raised stage. Tobirama stood slightly behind them, watching the crowd vigilantly.
Sakura glanced around as Madara’s speech began, contentment welling in her chest as she took in the sight of her village. It wasn’t much right now, it certainly wasn’t anything near what it would be in the future but it was a start. The bonfires crackled merrily, cinders rising into the brightly lit sky. If there was one thing Sakura appreciated about this time, it was the fact that she could see the sky so clearly.
Sakura smiled tiredly over at the enthusiastically waving Mito who was surrounded on all sides by her Uzumaki kin. She greeted the people around her when addressed, deflecting their ebullient praises. She watched Itama as he gazed up the three founders, eyes starry. Sakura was a part of this place; like it or not. Konoha’s roots ran deep and they were ensnared around her.
With the slightest of sighs, she returned her attention to Madara.
“We are a united nation, brought together from all parts of the world for one purpose: peace,” Madara said, excitement nearly sparking around him. Sakura was happy to see that this Madara, the one that she had the chance to actually know, was so happy about the future of the village. “All of you have been vital in the development of this village. Your smallest actions have made an immeasurable difference.
“Each of you has contributed to this great village; this great tree. One tree; many leaves. So, it is my great pleasure to announce that we are the village hidden in the leaves; Konohagakure!”
A great cheer arose from the audience as Madara raised a fist into the air.
Sakura smiled and laughed until it hurt, nearly crying.
For the first time since Sakura landed here, she finally felt at home.