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Sacrifice and Surrender

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Chapter One: Awakening

The first thing she recognised was touch.

Her fingers slowly rubbed the cloth, her body felt the soft mattress she lay on, her toes shifted the blanket that was on top of her.

Next, smell. The room smelt almost stale, the air was warm but not unpleasantly so and there was a wafting scent of something floral.

Her body felt exhausted, heavy. She took a deep breath and slowly opened her eyes, taking long and slow blinks, adjusting to the dim light from the total darkness. Her vision blurred into focus. The ceiling was a dull tan colour, her eyes shifted sideways, but she kept her head straight, and she saw the walls were a slightly darker colour. Black ink traced a pattern over it. A seal, she thought faintly.

Tired as she was, she moved her head and arms, trying to sit up.

There was a gasp, and some young girl she'd never seen before was by her side.

"You're awake," the girl said with wonder.

She helped Sakura to sit up. Sakura felt stiffness in her lower abdomen and alarm bells started ringing in Sakura's head.

"Who are you?" Her voice felt like sandpaper in her throat. "Where am I?"

"My name is Hikari Shimura," the girl replied, handing Sakura a glass of water. "You're in the hospital in Konoha."

Sakura gladly drank the water. Her mind was a fog; what was she doing in the hospital? The girl, Hikari, took the glass back. Shimura, the name gave her shivers.

"Lady Sakura, please, I'm going to tell them you're awake. Okay? Please lay back and rest."

Sakura gave a vague nod, eyeing the seals in the room. She recognised them, they were the kind of seals used in medicine when the patient was unconscious for a long time. Coma patients. She swallowed, feeling weak. How long had she been asleep?

She glanced at her hands and arms and had a sharp intake of breath. She was thin. Very thin. Her bones were more visible than she'd ever seen them before. Her hands came up to her face and she touched her cheeks. They were swallow. She must look half dead. It only added to her incoherent thoughts about the length of time she'd been unconscious. With some hesitation, she pushed back the blanket. She was wearing a thick and short white kimono, and she was naked underneath. Her legs looked like she was eleven again. She glanced up at the seals. Clearly, they were incomplete, if they weren't, her muscle wouldn't have died. It was going to be a pain to get it back. She took a breath and swung her legs over the edge of the bed. Her feet landed on the cold floor and slowly, shakily, she forced herself to stand up. Clammy cold sweat started to form on her brow.

With one hand on the bed, she took a step.

The door burst open and shocked her. The first thing she saw was black hair. Her heart lurched.


She remembered. Her eyes focused on the man staring at her with dark, Uchiha eyes. It wasn't Itachi.

She remembered.

Blood pouring from his gaping wounds. His mouth coughing out blood. Her name, the last thing he said.

Her eyes widened on Madara, who was staring at her with a mix of relief and concern and something else. She stumbled on her trembling, weak legs, falling forwards, He caught her. She felt so small in his arms, so fragile.

"Itachi," she whimpered.

Madara picked her up smoothly, hooking an arm under her legs and putting her carefully back on the bed.

She turned away from him and gripped her pillow.

Itachi was dead.

"How long?" She murmured.

The reply came after a moment of silence.

"A year."

Sakura barely reacted. A year. It felt more like a day, an hour. No time at all.

Itachi was dead.


It was Hashirama.

"Do you want us to come back later?"

She glanced at who was there. Madara, Tobirama, and Hashirama. The last three people she was with. Memories of that night crashed back into her mind. Itachi was dead. Izuna was dead. She scrunched her eyes shut and turned her face into her pillow.

"Let's go."

She heard Madara say.

She heard them leave and pain radiated from her chest.


A new voice spoke. The other one in the room she'd seen and not recognised.

"My name is Madoka. I'm your doctor."

When she didn't reply, he continued.

"I'll come back in an hour when you've had some time to digest, and then we can talk. There are things you need to know about your injuries and recovery."

Sakura didn't reply again. Madoka left, and she let the tears fall as sobs wracked her body.

Madara stayed outside Sakura's room long after Hashirama and his brother departed. He earned a disapproving stare from the doctor, but he wasn't told to leave. He listened to her crying through the wall and felt pain ripple throughout his own body.

He understood, but it still hurt him when she whispered Itachi's name. It had been a year for them, but maybe only moments for her. She hadn't grieved and he wasn't going to leave her, not when she hadn't heard the extent of her own injuries. He considered sending someone to get Matsuri but decided against it. He didn't want her to be overwhelmed with people. If Sakura needed Suri, he'd send her over later.

"She was thinner than I'd thought she would be," Tobirama said with worry once he and Hashirama were back in the Hokage's office. "We need to research the seals. It's not good enough."

Hashirama nodded, taking a seat in his chair while Tobirama sat on the desk.

"We can't afford for the patients to lose muscle like that. It takes too long to train back up." He let out a sigh. "Thank the Sage she's awake though. I was scared she'd never wake up."

Tobirama nodded. From what he'd read in the scrolls he'd found in her house, Sakura had practically been in charge of the hospital. Hashirama had used his wood jutsu to build and expand the hospital in a way close to what she had described in her writing. She would know the seals he'd used, he hoped. She'd know what needed to be fixed. It was just unfortunate that she was the patient.

Tobirama was relieved that Sakura had woken up for more than one reason. She was important to the future of the village, she was skilled and knowledgeable. A lot of what Sakura and Itachi had left them had put the progress of the village into super speed. Many things that might have taken years and years of planning were already in motion, or at least ready and waiting.

Even though she had been in a coma for a year, Sakura had become like a folk hero.

The night of the attack had sparked rumours upon rumours of what had actually happened. The official story that Hashirama, Tobirama, and Madara had decided on was that Sakura and Itachi had been tracking a threat all over the world, and had come across intelligence that its target was the Nine-Tailed Fox. They needed to keep their existence as secret as possible, in case they became targets of the person they hunted. It was why they'd barely interacted with anyone in the village, and why they'd disappeared at the Uchiha party at the festival.

One of their contacts had held the target captive for a month, but he'd gotten free and come after them in Konoha. Madara intercepted the target while scouting around the village. Unfortunately, the target, a man they discovered was named Zetsu, was stronger than anticipated and held Madara captive. His goal was to force Izuna to come and look for his brother, and then use Izuna's eyes to give Madara the Eternal Mangeyko Sharingan and use Madara's power to gain control over the Fox demon and destroy the village. Izuna was killed after the exchange of their eyes. Zetsu then proceeded to force Madara out of the village and use his Sharingan to control the Nine-Tails. Hashirama, Sakura, Tobirama, and Itachi pursued Zetsu in an attempt to rescue Madara. Itachi and Sakura sealed away Zetsu, and Hashirama fought the Nine-Tails. Sakura healed Madara. During the battle, Itachi died protecting Sakura from an attack from the Nine-Tails, but Sakura was also severely injured.

The specific details of the event were not disclosed nor recorded, which made some of the clan leaders uneasy. The Nara, so uncannily intelligent, definitely held their own reservations about the event, but they didn't question the Hokage's decision after Hashirama had a particularly bad day and intimidated them all into silence by releasing all of his chakra and almost suffocating them with his outburst of frustration and anger.

But with the little information that was released, Sakura became even more of a hero to the Uchiha. She kept saving them, and Matsuri was more than happy to spread it around the clan how good a friend and person she was too.

Outside of the Uchiha, Sakura became a hero to the village for battling against the Nine-Tails and saving them from the wicked threat of Zetsu, backed by the unwavering support of the Hokage, Tobirama and Madara. She was held in high regard and had a level of respect that the majority of the conscious people didn't have, which, of course, seemed to annoy Yori Shimura who hadn't taken a shine to her at all.

Tobirama knew the truth of it all, and he hardly cared about the status she now carried. He was glad that Sakura had woken up because she was important to him personally. Sakura was his friend, a good friend, he'd like to claim. She was someone he'd come to care for like she was his own little sister. He valued the easy camaraderie between them, and that she never once backed away or relented in front of him when many others had. He knew that his face was sharp and intimidating. His demeanour was often mistaken for cold and angry, but she saw through all that. She was strong and tough in body and mind, and now that she was awake, he was going to make sure that didn't change.

But it wasn't just Tobirama that needed Sakura to be okay. Hashirama did too. He was constantly worried about her, wanting to talk to her about Konoha, to ensure that she was okay mentally. He talked to her a lot when he visited her, about everything and anything. It was almost endearing, but mostly Tobirama thought she would've been getting pretty damn annoyed with him three months in if she could hear him.

Hashirama wasn't who Tobirama was concerned about the most though. Madara was the one that really needed her. Her just being alive, even unconscious, was enough to stop the man from becoming the dark version of himself that had occasionally appeared over the last year. The first few months after Zetsu had been hard. Madara had been unpredictable in his moods, often overreacting to the smallest things. But something had changed a few months in, it was like a switch was turned on, or off, inside him. Tobirama suspected that he'd finally read the scroll that Sakura had left for Madara.

There was something else that wasn't obvious to those who weren't close to him, but for Tobirama and Hashirama, who dealt with him every day, it was clear. Madara was irrevocably in love with Sakura. Everything he did seemed to have her words and influence behind it, like he was trying to live up to her expectations, to be someone she would be proud of. Tobirama wasn't even sure if the man himself was even aware of it. But once he'd gone to check on Sakura and Madara had been there, and he was talking to her, in a quiet voice, about things Tobirama had never heard Madara talk about before. About what was really in his heart. Part of Tobirama was almost glad that Itachi was gone, only just so Madara might have a better chance to hold onto whatever hope he was holding onto, but those thoughts made him sick. Itachi was a good man who had died a hero, and Tobirama would rather he were alive than dead any day.

Sakura spent a good twenty minutes crying her eyes and heart and soul out before she forced herself to stop and focus. Her crying was stifled and her throat ached with the sharp pain of unreleased cries.

That doctor, whoever he was, wasn't trained by Tsunade, and Sakura was the best damn medic in her own time, let alone this time, so before he came and told her something about her condition, she was going to check herself out first. That was for damn sure. She turned over and lay prone on her back, closed her eyes and performed a self-check. She winced at the state of her muscles. They were practically non-existent. Her training was going to be hell. It had to be hell to get them back.

Her broken bones had healed relatively well. But there was a break in her arm that had healed wrong and she was going to have to re-break it to heal it correctly - not something she was looking forward to. She smoothed out some of her scars and the scar tissue and then stopped her scan when she came to her lower abdomen.

Her chakra spiked in anger, denial and disbelief.

The door was suddenly flung open and Madara was there again.

"What is it?" He asked, looking drawn and worried.

"Who healed me?" Sakura asked through gritted teeth.

His brows drew together in confusion. She sat up and glared at him.

"Who healed me?" she shrieked.

Her outburst must have caused an uproar because several people entered the room. Madara, she saw, stood impassively and stared at her through hooded eyes that she couldn't read. Madoka walked in, calm in his gait in a way that made Sakura want to punch him.

"Did you do this to me?" She growled at him.

"My apologies, I don't know what you're talking about, Lady Sakura," Madoka replied calmly.

Sakura lay her hand against her stomach.

"This. This.. travesty of a fucking... y-you ruined me!"

Madoka took a long look at her and then ushered several of the other spectators out of the room. Madara closed the door.

"Your injuries were extensive," Madoka said in that same calm voice that made Sakura want to tear her hair out. "By the time we could treat you, there wasn't anything we could do."

Sakura stared at him.

"Get out." She said flatly. "Get out now!"

Madoka gave her a short nod.

"I will come back."

Madara stayed. Sakura stared at the wall. She wanted to break it. Break everything.

"I could have fixed this," she breathed, harsh and ragged.

"I know," Madara replied.

Sakura's eyes flickered to him. He stood at the end of her bed. His gaze was not warm or cold, calculating or vacant. He was just there, waiting for her signal, to leave or stay. Sakura looked down at the hand on her stomach and then back at Madara. Tears dropped from her eyes.

"I.. I can't have children."

The words get wrong coming out of her mouth. She felt something break inside her, a different loss than she was feeling for Itachi.

"Itachi's d-dead and I - I c-can't .."

She felt her body seize and release and shudder and break. She sobbed and cried and her breath hurt. She couldn't breathe. Madara walked to her side, sat beside her and wrapped his arms around her. She rocked forward, wailing into him as he kept her from falling over. She cried until she was too exhausted to stay awake. Madara laid her back on the bed and she knew he was there until she fell into a deep, exhausted sleep.

A year had passed in an instant, and she hadn't known it. She didn't have time to do anything, to deal with anything, to know anything. Everything slammed into her at once and Sakura grieved for her lost love and mourned for her lost chance at motherhood.

Sakura didn't sleep long. She woke up some hours later, discovering that night had only just fallen and she stared at the wall, eyes wide and dry. Numb. Her food untouched, her water glass full.

The door to her room creaked open for the thousandth time. But instead of one of the parade of nurses who tried to instruct her on her recovery, it was Madoka. The doctor.

"I understand you're a medic of exceptional skill," he said. "I am not a vain or prideful man, Sakura. I have many talents and have served my clan and village well. But after examining Madara, hearing the stories of what you did for Izuna and Matsuri Uchiha and her child, it appears I have much to learn." He let out a breath. "It is unfortunate and regrettable what has happened to you, and I deeply apologise. It is apparent that I and all medical staff in Konoha require more study."

Sakura blinked and her eyes burned a moment. She looked at him and saw his sincerity. She hadn't expected that. She swallowed her own sadness for the rational thought that she was the product of medical training for more advanced than anything they had.

"We did the best we could," he continued. "I am sorry."

She sat up, slowly.

"It's a lot to take in at once," she murmured.

Madoka seemed relieved at her words.

"Can we discuss your treatment now that you're awake? Or would you prefer to wait until tomorrow?"

Sakura smiled sadly.

"I'm not going to sleep much tonight," she said.

He nodded and they spoke. Sakura mostly listened, pitching in an idea every now and again. Revising some of it. Firstly, She needed to build her way up to heavier foods, to put on weight and readjust to living. Her physical therapy would consist of progressive walking and muscle-building exercise and stretching. After a month, if she was on track, she would be allowed to leave the hospital and go home. A month seemed like far too long for her, but she agreed without much of a fight, knowing that she'd be out sooner than that, how remembering how much she hated it when patients fought her. She was clear-headed enough to respect a fellow doctor.

There was no mention of therapy for her mental health. Sakura supposed that was something Tsunade had changed. She bit the inside of her cheek, professionally aware she needed it, but personally happy to have it off her to-do list. Perhaps she'd take a leaf from Kakashi's book and turn to excessive lateness, books and poor excuses as a coping method. Anything that didn't resemble what Sasuke did.

Madoka left her with the order to eat the now cold soup left for her and sleep if she could. She ate half, and slowly drifted into an uneasy sleep, filled with dreams of black and blood.

Matsuri arrived at Madara's office in the early morning the day after Sakura had awoken. Kagami was on her hip, his little handing grabbing for Madara when he saw him.

"Matsuri," Madara greeted her. "To what do I owe this pleasure?"

Matsuri walked in and closed the door. She walked over to Madara and forcibly put Kagami in his lap. Madara took the boy without much hesitation and was amused by the look of betrayal in Matsuri's eyes.

"I can't believe he loves you that much," Matsuri said with a sigh.

Madara smirked and tossed his hair away from the handsy Kagami and over his shoulder.

"He's a very smart boy," Madara replied smugly.

"You stole his first word from me," Matsuri whined. "It was supposed to be mama, not Mada." Madara's smugness deepened. "That's not why I'm here though," Matsuri continued. She looked at Madara seriously. "Sakura. I heard she's awake."

Madara nodded to her.

Matsuri bit her lip.

"Does she know?"

"She did not take it well," Madara replied evenly, remembering the look of brokenness on Sakura's face and the sound of her wails.

"Can I see her?" Matsuri asked nervously.

"I think she would be glad to see you," Madara said after a moment. "But before you do, we need to speak with Hashirama."

Matsuri frowned.


Madara stood and handed Matsuri back her son and didn't reply. He walked out the door and heard Matsuri let out a tired sigh. She followed him to the office of the Hokage wordlessly, knowing that he wasn't going to respond if he didn't want to. Madara walked through the open door to see Hashirama pouring a cup of sake. He startled when Madara entered the room and flashed a guilty and sheepish expression. Madara simply stared at him.

Matsuri laughed.

"Pretty brazen of you, Lord Hokage," she said. "It's barely ten in the morning."

Hashirama cleared his throat.

"True enough, but sake tastes good any time of the day."

He beamed at Kagami, who gave a shy wave at his mothers urging. Madara was proud of the boy, he was smart for an infant. Hashirama glanced at Madara and caught the expression on his face.

"What brings you here?" He asked, casually putting away the bottles Madara was sure would be confiscated by a Tobirama within hours.

"I wanted to go and see Sakura," Matsuri answered. "But Madara insisted we come here first."

Hashirama looked at Madara questioningly.

"It would be better for Sakura if she didn't have to keep the truth hidden from those close to her, particularly with her condition as it is," Madara explained.

Hashirama leaned back in his chair.

"We can't betray her trust like that," he said after a moment.

"If it helps, she told me that after everything was over she was going to tell me everything anyway," Matsuri piped up.

Madara gave Hashirama a look and he sighed.

"Very well."

He then launched into Sakura and Itachi's story. The whole truth. To Matsuri's credit, she remained quiet and listened intently without interruption. After Hashirama finished, she was quiet for a moment longer before she nodded.

"Well, it certainly explains a lot," she said.

Madara turned to her and raised his eyebrows. Matsuri shrugged at him.

"We talked a lot, some things didn't really make sense. Now they do."

Hashirama gave a small chuckle.

"Sakura chooses her people well, it seems."

"Does Yuri know?" Matsuri asked Madara.

Madara clenched his jaw.

"We debriefed him after the attack."

Tobirama and Yuri had found Izuna's body. Yuri didn't respond to his death well. The pair of them were as close as brothers, best friends since they were children. His death cast Yuri into a deep depression, awakening his Mangekyo. He was told everything as soon as Madara woke up. Matsuri's husband hadn't been able to look Madara in the eyes since then. Madara understood. He could barely look at himself either.

Matsuri nodded with some determination.

"I'm going to see her now."

"I'll come with you," Madara said. He looked at Hashirama. "When I return, I have some reports to go over with you."

Hashirama nodded.

"Tell me how she is."

Madara left with Matsuri. They were greeted with little bows to the head from a lot of the people they passed. Madara, the Uchiha clan head, and Matsuri, the mother of the new heir. Not a title she wanted, Madara knew.

"I can't imagine how hard this is going to be for her now," Matsuri murmured. "She's really alone."

Madara cast her a questioning look.

"Itachi was her only link to her home, her life," Matsuri said with a sigh. "And she loved him, loves him. She's going to feel isolated here. We're not strangers exactly, but we may as well be."

"She's strong," Madara said.

Matsuri looked at him with pursed lips.

"You don't get it. You're such a man."

"I take that as a compliment," Madara said as they walked through the doors of the hospital.

Matsuri snorted.

"You shouldn't."

They walked to Sakura's room. Both were intimately familiar with it. Madara came to see Sakura more than he'd ever admit in the last year. Matsuri visited her at least three times a week, brushing her hair, dabbing scent on her wrists, helping the nurses wash her.

"Lord Madara, Lady Matsuri," Hikari Shimura greeted them with a smile.

"Hello," Matsuri said. "Can I go and see her?"

Hikari nodded, looking worried.

"I think she needs a friend," she said. Matsuri nodded knowingly. "She's awake now. She's not eating much, so if you can get her to eat some more breakfast that would be good. Doctor Madoka is going to have her do some exercises this afternoon."

"Thank you," Matsuri replied to the girl.

Hikari Shimura was the one person from that clan that Madara could stand.

They paused outside the door. Matsuri handed Kagami over to Madara.

"Maybe we should wait to see how she is before I bring Kagami inside. It might be too painful right now," she said quietly.

Madara nodded, trying to untangle his hair from Kagami's vice-like baby grip. Matsuri took a breath and walked inside.

Sakura eyed the walking frame with a large amount of disdain. The nurse, Hikari - well, not a nurse, just a young girl helping and trying to learn medical ninjutsu - had brought it in an hour earlier, with an apologetic look on her face. Sakura, apparently, wasn't strong enough to get far on her own but she sure as hell wasn't going to use that thing.

The door to the room opened and Sakura looked up to see someone who made her immediately tear up.

"Matsuri," she whispered.

Matsuri closed the door behind her, walked over to Sakura and threw her arms around her. Sakura froze for a second before she hugged her back.

"Sakura, I'm so sorry. I'm so sorry," Matsuri whispered. She pulled back and wiped Sakura's tears. "I'm here for you, always, okay?"

Sakura sniffed and nodded.

"I know. Thanks."

Matsuri brushed her hands through Sakura's hair.

"It's gotten long," she said.

Sakura looked at her hair. It had, it was grown out like when she was a little girl. Amazing what a year could do to the body.

Matsuri smiled softly at her.

"I brushed it for you, while you were asleep. It's so pretty, I didn't want to cut it."

Sakura was a little shocked at her confession but she was happy. Matsuri had come to visit her, she'd had people come to visit her. She didn't know anything, couldn't remember anything except darkness, but it somehow helped her, just a little, to know that someone had been here for her.

"Madara and Hashirama told me the truth, Sakura," Matsuri said after a moment.

"About what?"

"You. Itachi. Where you came from." Matsuri took her hand. "I believe it all," she said with full sincerity.

Sakura stared at Matsuri.

"How can you believe it? It's such an unbelievable story."

Matsuri poked her on the side of the head with one finger in a way that made Sakura freeze.

"Because I know you. You're not normal, Sakura, I knew that from the minute you saved my life."

Sakura swallowed the incredible pain that she felt from Matsuri's absent-minded and carefree action. Her forehead burned.

"I'm too tired and overwhelmed to even try to deny it," Sakura said after a moment.

Matsuri let out a laugh.

"Madara said it would be better for you if you didn't have to hide anything from your friends."

"That's surprisingly thoughtful," Sakura murmured.

Friends. The word brought forward a lot of faces and memories and feelings that were shrouded in a haze of sorrow and anger.

"Sakura." Matsuri seemed unusually timid when she said her name. Sakura looked at her with a slight frown. "I'll just say this outright. I don't know how else to say it." Sakura tensed. "I know you can't… have children anymore." Her voice dropped to a whisper. "I don't want to make you uncomfortable, so Kagami is outside the door with Madara right now." Sakura swallowed. "When you're ready, and only then, Yuri and I… we want you to be a part of our lives, our family."

Sakura felt her hands tighten on the blankets. Memories rushed through her head.

The chaotic birth where the mother and baby had both almost died. Itachi telling her who Kagami was; that he was Shisui's grandfather. Sakura's heart constricted as she remembered the promise they made together to give Kagami the best they could so that Shisui might live again. She remembered the first time she tried to babysit him and how Itachi was like a baby-whisperer, and the way that day felt, like they were a real family, like one day they could have a child of their own.

A single tear rolled down her cheek.

"I'd like to see him," she whispered, her throat hurting.

"Are you sure?" Matsuri asked, her brows drawn together in confusion and concern.

Sakura nodded. It was a little hesitant, but she needed to just…Itachi's smiling face popped into her head. She just needed to look forward, not backward. Thinking was only going to hurt.


Matsuri squeezed her hand and then went to open the door.

Madara walked in, and Kagami was in his arms. Matsuri took him and Sakura's eyes followed the boy. He was so much bigger than the last time she saw him. He had a surprisingly thick mop of curly black hair, inquisitive dark eyes that stared right back at Sakura.

"This is Auntie Sakura," Matsuri cooed to him. "Remember, Kagami?"

Madara stood back by the door, watching the scene unfold.

Matsuri brought Kagami over to Sakura and sat on the edge of the bed again.

"Hi Kagami," Sakura breathed.

Her throat caught in a sob, torn between happiness and deep sadness.

"You won't remember me, but I helped you into the world."

Sakura tentatively reached out her hand toward him and Kagami gripped her index finger tightly, gurgling and smiling at her.

"He remembers you," Matsuri said to her. "I've been bringing him here all year. He helped me brush your hair."

Sakura's heart swelled while it simultaneously broke looking at the baby.

"Ku-Ku," Kagami babbled.

"Kuku?" Sakura looked at Matsuri with a frown.

"That's you," Matsuri told her. "That's what he calls you."

Sakura looked at Kagami who still had a grip on her finger.

"Can - can I hold him?" She asked.

Matsuri passed Kagami over to her and Sakura stared into his eyes before she closed hers and hugged him tightly.

"Itachi and I promised that he'd have a good life," she said quietly. "In our life, before, he was the grandfather of Itachi's best friend."

Matsuri looked between Sakura and her son in awe.

"That's amazing," Matsuri breathed.

Kagami gripped Sakura's sleeve.

"Kuku," he mumbled happily.


Madara's deep voice interrupted the moment. Sakura and Matsuri both looked at him.

"You should tell her what his first word was."

Sakura looked between the two of them with some amusement when she saw Matsuri's face cloud over with jealousy, anger, and betrayal, while Madara just looked smug. She turned back to Sakura, despair on her features.

"It wasn't 'dada' or 'mama,'" Matsuri said sadly. "It was 'Mada!'"

Sakura felt the giggle come out of her before she could stop it.

"He stole my babies first word!" Matsuri cried dramatically.

The three Uchiha stayed for another half-hour before the doctor came in and told them to leave, Sakura needed rest. Matsuri ordered Sakura to eat her food and promised to come back the next day.

The slightly positive feelings that Sakura had felt in their presence disappeared the moment they left her room. Alone, Sakura felt like the world was too quiet. In her weak state, she felt helpless and vulnerable. Her body screamed at her that everything was wrong, and her mind warped itself into a torturous state of emotional turmoil mixed into memory. She wanted to scream, to throw something. But she kept a lid on herself, tightly screwed it shut and scrunched her eyes closed, willing herself to be silent.

She'd always told her patients that the road to recovery was long and hard, but in the end, it would be worth it. Now she understood why they looked at her like she didn't know what she was talking about.


She couldn't even imagine what that looked like.