“Sensei, didn't you use to be the Uchiha clan's matriarch?” Hashirama asked suddenly,during a break in between training with his team. It was a windy day out, and sweat was rapidly cooling.
Madara stiffened as Sakura froze, her lips pulling tight into what could have been a grimace or a frown. Her bright eyes dulled. “...why do you ask?”
Clan matters, especially with clans as big as the Uchiha, were not of public knowledge. Gossip sometimes leaked, but those were for menial things. Issues concerning the clan head and the main branch especially were kept under tight wraps. It goes for all clans usually, but some were more open about their private lives.
Tobirama’s eyes flickered curiously between the ex-Uchiha, and the lone Uchiha of their team. “Really?”
Ignoring him, Hashirama marched on. “ Nothing, I was just a little curious. What happened?” Madara sent him a sharp look, about to reprimand him on his insensitivity for bringing up such a touchy subject but their sensei beat them to it.
“We were young… And stupid.” She sighed, eyes downcast. Hashirama could feel Madara boring katanas into his head, and couldn't bring himself to feel too sorry at his curiosity for his sensei's past. She was always so lively and sweet that he had to wonder if all of it was real.
Tobirama was sitting up straighter, curious red eyes zeroing in on their sensei's youthful face. She seemed ten years older talking about her past, he thought quietly.
“Sensei, you don't have to-” Madara was cut off by the medic's pointed look, and he begrudgingly let her continue. “It's fine, Mada-chan.” She assured softly. “We've been a team for quite a while now, so I guess that it's only fitting that you all know.”
She inhaled deeply, seemingly to find courage and strength to continue, before she exhaled.
“Sasuke, as you all know, is the Uchiha clan head. He was my teammate, when we were genin.” She smiled at the wide eyed looks her students gave her. “You were teammates with him?” Hashirama asked. “But you guys don't seem very close…” Madara glared at him, but wisely kept his mouth shut.
Sakura nodded. “Yeah. When I was twelve, I had a major crush on him, just like all the other girls my age.” A giggle escaped her lips when she saw them souring at the mention of her crushing on someone. “I was put on a team with him and Naruto, and we were Team Seven, with Kakashi Hatake as our teacher. Because of my crush, I never really focused on anything other than my looks to impress Sasuke.” She hummed wistfully, remembering the innocent days where all that mattered was getting Sasuke to notice her.
“Never liked that old bag,” Tobirama sniffed, “Always so angry and stuck-up.” He rolled his eyes. “Uchihas.” Madara’s shout of indignation went unnoticed as Sakura continued her story.
“I was like that for a long time, until a certain mission, when I realized just how weak I was compared to them.” Hashirama balked. “But sensei, you're not weak!”
She smiled fondly and ruffled his hair. “I used to be, Hashi-kun. Anyway,” a distant look settled into her eyes. “That mission taught me that if I didn't take my shinobi career seriously, I would get myself killed no matter what I do.” Her pale hand came up to rub absently at a point on her shoulder, and Madara wondered if it was phantom pains or a scar.
She turned her eyes toward them, blazing with an inner fire that they were relieved to see. Having their sensei so morose and downtrodden lowered their spirits as well. “I quickly came to my senses and got over my crush after that, but I still loved Sasuke because he… He's very dear to me. Just like Naruto and Kakashi, but he's special. He was my first love, and later my first heartbreak.”
She told them of her journey to redeem herself and become stronger, under Tsunade’s tutelage, and Kakashi’s watchful eye. How she grew from a girl with no shinobi background to speak of to the living, breathing legend they all saw today. And then, how her whirlwind romance with Uchiha Sasuke began.
It was during the war. Everything was chaos, and nothing was ever considered permanent. Lives came and went, battles fought and lost, families built and broken. She was a field medic, one of the best in fact. She was spread too thin, everywhere at once- everyone needed help, and she had been foolish enough to think she could save them all.
And she was right, until she was wrong. The first life that slipped through her fingers -literally, in blood and guts and everything else in between- was the last straw on the camel's back, and she went into shock.
Because of her catatonic state, even more lives were lost. Tsunade didn't blame her; no one did. She blamed herself. For every second she had spent staring into space, not comprehending how she failed to salvage a life, lives were lost. She had been utterly selfish for thinking that time would slow down and let her adjust on her own terms, and paid dearly for it.
The weight of the guilt for not saving the lives she could have saved drove her to the point of almost taking her own life, in a typical bout of depression and self-pity.
Sasuke found her then. And despite never truly having connected with her as a teammate or friend, he was the one to help her heal.
“Wow.” Madara blinked slowly. He never could imagine his clan leader to be so kind or compassionate, but maybe war changed him. For better or for worse was up to how the story ended. Sakura eyed him pointedly, wanting to finish the story, and he nodded for her to continue.
Sasuke was always there to pick up the pieces whenever she broke down. Whether it was on the battlefield or in the medical tent, he would always be the first one to check in on her and mend her back. Sometimes he talked, sometimes he didn't, but his presence healed her in the way medical ninjutsu never could. His understanding eyes and encouraging quirks of the lips -not a smile, because he didn't really smile- made her feel less alone, less burdened by her remorse.
After the war ended, they got married.
It was met with surprisingly much resistance. Naruto, Kakashi, Tsunade, Ino, even her parents opposed the marriage.
“But why?” Tobirama questioned, trying to make sense of things. “Weren't they really supportive of you guys?” Sakura shook her head. “They were supportive of Sasuke’s help in my recovery, but they didn't expect us to get married right off the bat. We were young, and far from ready to settle down.” She explained, which was met with a soft ‘oh’.
They were both seventeen, already legal by village standards, and Sakura thought they would be happy. They should have been- Sasuke had helped her so much, and she used to have feelings for him, so they could make it work, right? Sasuke thought the same.
It didn't work.
When the honeymoon phase was over, the shouting matches started. Everyone wisely stayed out of the Uchiha clan leader and his monstrously strong wife's way, but no one could truly bear seeing or hearing them scream at each other until the wee hours of the morning. The Uchiha were worried that things would come to blows but they both never raised a finger towards one another, only their voices.
Sasuke realized that he wasn't ready for a commitment, and Sakura couldn't seem to accept that he didn't want to continue with their wedding. She was upset that he had only been with her for the honeymoon, and wanted him to stay with her because he was helping her heal, didn't he see?
A few weeks later, Sakura found out she was pregnant. She was ecstatic- this meant that Sasuke would have to stay with her, right? She was bearing his child, for God's sake. When she told Sasuke, he had mixed reactions.
Surprise, uncertainty, horror.
She pretended to not notice how forced his affections were, and how she was going into a depression with how rarely he was at home. She pretended that he was happy with her, and she him, and her stomach continued to get bigger. The fights and screaming ceased, but the distance between them continued to grow, until the nine months were up and she gave birth.
The baby didn't make it. Sakura almost didn't as well.
Sakura was inconsolable for days, refusing to let go of her baby and insisting on pumping more chakra into the unmoving babe in spite of his cold skin and silence, when he should have been warm, should have been wailing, should have been theirs -
Sakura snapped out of her trance when she felt a small hand wipe at her cheek. She turned to them curiously, wondering why her eyes pricked and her face felt warm. Hashirama looked at her with sad eyes. Madara and Tobirama didn't look at her at all. There was a suspicious shake in Madara’s shoulder that she didn't bother asking him about. Tobirama’s eyes were curiously watery as well.
Hashirama wiped at her face again. She noticed that his hands came away wet. “You're crying, sensei.” He confirmed softly, eyes red but refusing to cry. He wanted to be strong for his sensei.
She snorted softly. “Huh. I guess I am.” She delicately dabbed her eyes. “Been a long time.”
Sasuke came back from a mission to her in a near insane state and pried the dead baby away from her arms, as gently as he could. She didn't fight him, only watching with dead eyes as the baby’s father looked down at the child -their child- with unreadable eyes.
“He had my eyes, you know.” She croaked out, voice and face ugly from non-stop crying. “He had your hair, and your nose, and- Kami, it's all my fault!” She screeched. Sasuke tore his eyes away from what could have been his son, and looked at what used to be his wife, his friend; now a broken girl he didn't know how to fix anymore. Instead, he just said,
It rocked Sakura to her core, and she sobbed harder than before. Burying her face into her hands, she wailed and cried. “Go, Sasuke. Take him away. I don't want to see any of you.” She said, suddenly calm and quiet, and it scared him more than her screaming.
“Now!” The screech- no, roar was louder than before, thunderous in anger and guilt and pain , eyes alight with a fire that burned hotter than a thousand suns. He stiffened and walked briskly out of the room, her destroyed future in his arms, and the equivalent of fleeing for an Uchiha as prideful as himself.
That night, as she lay broken and hopeless on her hospital bed, she truly realized how toxic they were to one another.
Sakura never believed that she would ever be the same again. She was healing, yes, but when she saw herself in the mirror and noticed her breasts swollen with milk that she couldn't feed, and stretch marks on her tummy reminding her of what could have been, she shattered. Her hopes for the future, for herself, gone .
Sasuke gave her divorce papers to sign the day she was released. She felt numb when she put down her signature, but knew that somewhere in the back of her mind, this was for both of them. They weren't good for each other anymore. They would only hurt each other if they didn't do this.
Sasuke packed his things and travelled. His mother practically took Sakura in, and cared for her like she was one of her own. Itachi helped her mind get over its trauma, and her friends never left her alone at any time of the day. She slept with someone -usually Naruto, Ino or Mikoto herself- every night to keep the monsters away. It was nice to not wake up alone.
Uchiha Haruko, she had named him. Spring child, sunshine,radiance, first born child, it meant. The only light in the darkness that was her poisonous relationship with her now ex-husband.
You are my sunshine, my only sunshine, she would sing when she visits his grave for the first, second and nth time, tracing the name so similar to her maiden name. You make me happy, when skies are grey- her fingers would stroke the shiny marble headstone like it was her child in the flesh, so gentle and loving, and hurt.
You never know dear, how much I love you-
She would drop down and cry her pain away, hugging the stone as close as she could-
- please don't take my sunshine away.
And rain would fall anyway, to take him away.
Sakura pulled her boys in for a hug, sighing softly as she gently rocked them back and forth. Hashirama was the first to cry openly, and Madara and Tobirama broke down as soon as he did.
The three boys were hiccupping now, sniffling and looking so small and fragile in her arms that her heart hurt, but she held them protectively. Hashirama rubbed at his eyes harshly, glaring at her with bloodshot eyes, as he tried to reign control of his breathing.
“Why do you have to tell such good stories, sensei?” He whined petulantly. “You made my brothers cry!”
Sakura smiled, seeing Tobirama's and Madara’s ears redden in embarrassment, but kissed all of them on the crown of their heads. “I just like to make my audience feel the flow of the story more, you know. It's nice to have someone to share with.” She murmured. They all relaxed in her hold, sitting in silence as she rocked gently.
“Hm?” She turned to Madara, who was studying her with intense Uchiha eyes. His shaggy black hair fell into his eyes and she had the strongest urge to brush his bangs away, but held herself back.
He looked away. “...are you okay now?”
He didn't see her smile widen, but did feel her arms tighten around the three of them.
She meant it when she said “I am now.”
She had nothing to worry about. The future held many possibilities, and she was holding three more futures in her hands, and she would be damned before she let their fires die out so soon.
She looked up at the sky. It was clear, full of sunshine. ‘I'll make it up to you, Haruko-kun.’
This time, no one will take her three sunshines away. And with all her friends and family with her, well…
She'll be just fine.