It’s Sakura’s first day in the academy when she falls in love with Kiba Inuzuka.
It’s not love at first sight: when she first sees him, he’s picking his nose, and all she thinks is gross.
But at lunch time he sees she doesn’t have a lunchbox- ‘cause her mean neighbor stole it again and told her if you were really a ninja you’da been able to stop me and the shame at that kept her from saying anything- he gives her his sandwich and says, “My big sis hates it when girls skip meals. ‘Sides, I can just share Akamaru’s lunch!”
That makes her laugh, especially when the puppy- so cute!- sticks his head out of Kiba’s shirt at the mention of his name, and she decides she doesn’t really care if Kiba is gross as long as he’s nice, and that’s when they first become friends.
It’s only an hour later when their class has their first spars. Kiba wins his easily, and he smiles with pride when he hears Sakura cheering for him. Sakura loses hers and gets a split lip, and he tears off his shirt sleeve when she starts crying so that she has something to wipe her nose with.
“My big sis’ll teach you and then you’ll get really strong and you’ll beat Chouji up real bad next time, okay?” Kiba says, and he says it like he’s worried that if this isn’t what she needs to hear she’ll burst into tears again. Instead she tackles him in a hug- which is a relief, because he’s used to that sort of thing way more than girls losing fights, in his house- and demands to start her lessons today.
It’s when they’re walking over to his house and he’s telling her all about how annoying fleas are and she’s carting around a snot-covered torn shirt sleeve in the hope that his mom will sew it back on for him, that she looks at Kiba and thinks, yeah, I love him.
Sakura loving Kiba doesn’t change much, in the greater schemes of Konoha, but it changes everything when it comes to Sakura. She doesn’t care that Sasuke Uchiha likes girls who are skinny and fragile with long hair (or that people think he does, anyways).
She makes friends with a girl named Ino, who tells dirty jokes and knows cool things about flowers, and who always fights with Kiba but in a funny way. Ino is already really popular and tells her that her ‘sources’ tell her that Inuzuka boys always like stubborn girls and strong girls and wild girls. “You’re totally his type!” Ino teases, and Sakura desperately tries to hush her before anyone else can overhear as she turns a bright red.
Sakura grows up to be openly stubborn, free to deal out punches and handing out lectures. She trains every day with her friends, and it’s not just for Kiba- she likes being strong, and she wants to keep up with her friends- but it helps knowing that she’s not pushing herself to be someone the boy she loves wouldn’t want to hang out with.
When she’s assigned to team seven, her jounin instructor keeps giving her weird looks. She figures it’s only fair- she’s got long pink hair that she never bothers to brush unless Ino makes her, and she’s got claws because Hana did her nails for her in celebration of graduation. Her clothes are dirty and her skin is sticky with sweat because she wasn’t about to waste her morning waiting for a teacher without at least doing some strength exercises.
She’s embarrassed to be such a mess for her first day as genin, but really, there’s only so much she can do. When Kakashi-sensei tells them to make introductions, she’s relieved at the excuse to improve his opinion of her.
“My name is Haruno Sakura. I like winning arguments and the Inuzuka clan; I dislike fleas and bullies. My hobbies are reading and arm wrestling. My dream…..Ah, I want to be on the same team as Hana-nee one day, and I want to protect my pack. You’re all part of that pack now, by the way.” She finishes, in a voice that dares them to disagree. Not even Sasuke takes the bait.
The jounin-sensei raises an eyebrow at that, but she finds it hard to believe he hasn’t heard about the arranged marriage by now.
“Inuzuka aren’t the type to set up early marriages.” He says, and now she gets it. He knows about the engagement, he just doesn’t know why. And he wants her to tell him.
Well. He’s got nunekin, so clearly he’s got good taste. She doesn’t mind letting them know.
“Inuzuka are a matriarchy, Sensei. Like they’d let me slip through their fingers.” She says, and she can tell from his expression- even as Sasuke groans- that he gets it, that he’s figured out what he’s looking at here. His evaluation of her has clearly just changed.
Sakura Haruno intends to be a beast, and he can already tell she’s going to be a fantastic one.