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every sunbeam is temporary

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Sakura moves to Konoha when she is five.

It is not her idea. If she had her way, she would stay in Suna, where it’s warm and it storms for days, not go to stupid Konoha where it’s a lot cooler and it only really sprinkles and there’s snow.

Snow is stupid. There’s no snow in Suna.

Mama says that they’re moving to Konoha because it has a better economy. And it has more merchant clans, too, so there’s better chances for alliances.

“I miss Gaara-chan, though,” Sakura complains, from the wagon that she and her parents are traveling in.

“No, you don’t,” Papa says. “As soon as we told you that you two might get married, you threw a fit and made Gaara say that you two weren’t friends.”

Sakura makes a face. “I miss Gaara-chan, not getting married to Gaara-chan. I don’t ever want to get married.”

Sakura’s mama snorts. It’s an undignified way for a lady to laugh, and her mama corrects herself into a titter almost immediately.

“You won’t think that forever,” she says. “Besides, there’s lots of nice people in Konoha. You’ll like them.”

“Will not,” Sakura says. “I don’t like anyone from Konoha.”

The shinobi following behind the wagon laughs. “Aw, that’s not very nice, hime-chan. After all, I’m from Konoha. Are you saying you don’t like me?”

“I said what I said,” Sakura says. That’s what her Papa says when someone is trying to negotiate with him badly.

The shinobi just laughs. Sakura scowls at him.

-+-

Sakura makes a face when they finally make it to Konoha. It’s got walls around it, and forests around that, and a mountain on the other side, and it looks like a closet. Suna had been all wide-open space, when you got to on top of the mesas surrounding it: golden sand and bright blue sky for miles and miles and miles until it all faded into one kind of fuzzy orange-blue line.

Sakura can barely see thirty feet here.

She makes a face at the shinobi who are guarding the gate, but they just laugh and make faces back at her. She scowls, and makes her ugliest, scariest face at them.

They just laugh again, so she turns with a huff so that they know that she’s not looking at them.

Her new house in Konoha is also disappointing. It’s all one color, close to white but not close enough for it to actually be white, and it looks dirty and the roof is green and it’s got weird curved tiles that Mama says are for the rain. It’s nothing like their house in Suna, which had been tall and circular and baked golden in the sun, but still cool on the hottest days and still warm in the dead of the cold nights.

Sakura makes another face. She’s never gonna get used to the sound of rain on the roof.

“You know,” Papa says, “it actually rains all the time in Kiri. You can’t go outside without an umbrella, most days.”

Sakura makes another face.

Papa laughs. “What’s that for? You’re half-Kiri, you know?”

“‘We are more than our forefathers’,” Sakura quotes. “I’m also half-Suna. And Suna’s way better than crummy old Konoha.”

Papa shrugs. “I can’t really disagree. Maybe don’t say that so loud here, though, it might peeve off a couple of people.”

“Whatever,” Sakura says. “Rasa-jisama says that peeving people off is a special talent of Suna.”

Papa sighs. “Rasa-jisama says a lot of things.” He picks his daughter up. “Come on, let’s go pick out your new room.”

-+-

The next day, Papa and Mama take Sakura to go meet with the hokage.

Technically, Sakura doesn’t have to come. Papa’s supposed to meet with him because he used to be a foreign shinobi, and Mama’s supposed to meet with him to make sure she’s not loyal to Rasa-jisama anymore. Sakura’s just a kid, so she doesn’t really count, but Mama and Papa don’t know how to requisition D-ranks for genin to watch Sakura yet and apparently they don’t trust her not to burn the house down.

So Papa carries her on his shoulders into a very tall tower that nearly looks like where Rasa-jisama works, but squatter and uglier. It’s painted red, and it has the same roof style that Sakura’s new house does, and it’s got the kanji for fire on the front of it as big as anything, just in case somebody forgot where Konoha was.

Inside the squat little building, Papa carries Sakura up a few sets of stairs, just behind Mama, until they come to a hallway with some benches set on the wall. Papa sets Sakura down on the bench and tells her to wait while he and Mama go and talk to one of the shinobi standing next to the door.

After they talk to the shinobi and he slips in through the door, Sakura and her parents wait on the bench for what feels like hours and hours until the shinobi finally comes out and motions them in.

The room behind the door is mostly empty, besides some furniture, some pictures, some people who are trying to be invisible, and an old man sitting behind the desk.

“Haruno-san, Hasuno-san,” the old man says, nodding. His gaze goes from Mama and Papa to Sakura, and he smiles. “And who might you be?”

Sakura bows, her right hand against her left wrist like Mama taught her. “I’m Haru no Sakura, sir. My parents are Haru no Mebuki and Hasuno Kizashi.”

The man keeps smiling and puffs on his pipe. “It’s a pleasure to meet you, Sakura-chan.”

“You too,” Sakura says, straightening. “Who might you be?”

Sakura,” Mama chides.

“Quite alright, Haruno-san. I don’t mind children,” the old man says. “My name is Sarutobi Hiruzen, Sakura-chan. You should call me Hokage-sama.”

Sakura tilts her head. “Is being hokage like being kazekage?”

The hokage chuckles. “I suppose it would be. Do you know the kazekage?”

Sakura nods eagerly. “Rasa-jisama is the kazekage. He’s really tough, though, and really strict.”

“Sacchan, I’m sure that hokage-sama doesn’t want to hear about your opinions on Rasa-jisama,” Papa says, picking Sakura up and holding her against his chest. “I’m sorry about her, hokage-sama. She’s too curious for her own good.”

“Am not,” Sakura says.

“I don’t mind at all, Hasuno-san,” the hokage says. “Although, you may be right. I know that children can be… distracting, in these kinds of situations. Sakura-chan, would you mind waiting outside for us? I can have one of my assistants give you some paper to color on?’

“Okay,” Sakura says. She lets Papa set her on the floor and pats him on the head before she walks outside of the office with one of the people who was pretending to be invisible before.

In the hallway, the shinobi that had been guarding the door smiles at Sakura and gives her a pile of papers and a pencil when she sits down on the bench.

Sakura’s not sure how long she sits on the bench without her parents. She draws Gaara, and her and Gaara, and her and Gaara and Temari, and her and Temari, and even her and Gaara and Temari and Kankurou, and Mama and Papa still aren’t done talking to hokage-sama.

Sakura keeps drawing. She draws Rasa-jisama and Momo-jii and Mama and Papa and their old house back in Suna, and they’re still not done talking by the time she’s finished with all that.

And then, just when she’s about to ball up the paper and throw it at the shinobi guarding the door to see if he’s as good at ignoring distractions as the shinobi back in Suna, someone very loud comes barrelling up the stairs and down the hallway.

“Hey!” He yells. “Shinobi-san, shinobi-san, is Jiji done yet? I’m bored and the ANBU are huge losers and everybody’s mad just ‘cause of a little paint and we’re supposed to meet today, y’know!”

He skids to a stop in front of the shinobi guarding the door, waving his arms and gesturing wildly.

The shinobi just shakes his head.

The boy scowls. “Jeez! And he specifically requested me, too! How rude!” He looks over at Sakura. “Hi, who are you?”

“Haru no Sakura,” she says. “You can call me Sakura-chan, if you want.”

The boy grins. “I’m Uzumaki Naruto! You can call me Naruto-kun, though. I’m the coolest shinobi in Konoha!” He strides over to the bench and sits next to Sakura. “Whatcha drawing?”

“You’re not a shinobi. You’re my age.” Sakura says. She frowns as she feels Naruto’s presence. She leans closer to him, closing her eyes. Naruto sputters for a moment, but Sakura just reaches out and holds him still. “You seem familiar,” she says, slowly.

“Sakura-chan?” Naruto asks. “You’re, uhm, really close, y’know.”

“I know,” Sakura says. “You just seem familiar.” She focuses, ignoring whatever Naruto’s babbling about. After another moment of thinking, she opens her eyes wide and sits back with a grin. “You remind me of Gaara-chan, that’s it!”

“Gaara-chan?” Naruto asks. His face is flushed red, but very slowly returning to normal. “Who’s Gaara-chan?”

“He’s my best friend, but we moved away so now he’s not,” Sakura explains. “Do you wanna be best friends?”

“Really?” Naruto asks. “I mean, with me?”

Sakura frowns and tilts her head to the side. “Yeah, why not?”

“No reason, it’s just- I mean, you could make lots more friends besides me, y’know? And if you make friends with me, no one will wanna be friends with you.”

Sakura puts her hands on her hips. “I don’t care about anyone else, though. You’re like Gaara-chan, so I wanna be friends with you! And besides, you’re the first person I met here!”

Naruto frowns and worries at his lip. “Alright, I guess. How long have you been here? Where are you from?”

“I’m from Suna. I only moved here yesterday.”

“Neat! What’s Suna like?”

Sakura explains all about Suna, going into as much detail as she can, explaining how the sand used to burn when you walked around, unless you were wearing ankle-high shinobi boots, and how you could go out and cut up some cactus meat, and how long the days were and how hot they were. By the time she’s explaining to Naruto how the moon sometimes looks like it has a halo around it, her parents are finally out of the hokage-sama’s office.

“Hey there, Sacchan,” Papa says, leaning against the wall and smiling at Sakura and Naruto. “Did you make a new friend?”

Sakura nods. “This is Nacchan! He’s a lot like Gaara-chan. He’s really nice and really cool and he likes learning about Suna!”

Nacchan?” Naruto demands, shooting up straight. “I said you could call me Naruto-kun, not Nacchan!”

Sakura pouts. “But Nacchan’s a cute nickname! Plus, then we can be Nacchan and Sacchan. Isn’t that a good idea?”

Naruto slumps back. “I guess,” he says.

Sakura grins. “Told you so!”

“Sacchan, leave that boy alone,” Mama said. “It was nice to meet you, Naruto-kun, but Sakura has to be on her way.”

“Aw, can’t Nacchan come over?” Sakura pleads. “He’s my best friend! And it’s important to be hospible.”

“Hospitable,” Mama corrects. “And our house isn’t ready for visitors yet, Sacchan. Naruto-kun can come over once it is, alright?”

Sakura pouts. “Fine.

“Good girl,” Mama says. “Come here, then. We’ve got to get home and get everything unpacked.”

“Alright,” Sakura says. She takes a moment to shuffle through her drawings, and passes the best ones to Naruto. “Bye-bye, Nacchan! I’ll see you later!”

“Bye, Sakura-chan,” Naruto says, as Sakura guides her parents out of the stupid hokage building.

-+-

“Every time,” Mama says, as soon as they’re out of the hokage building. “Every single time. The odds are staggering.”

“Gaara was definitely your fault,” Papa says. “Karura was your cousin.”

“And Yagura was your kouhai,” Mama says. “And now we’re in Konoha, where neither of us have family, and she’s already made friends with another one.”

Papa is quiet for a moment. “Maybe she’s a monster, and she’s gathering information on them.”

“That’s not funny, Kizashi,” Mama snaps. “We may not be in Kiri, but-”

“I know, Mebuki,” Papa says quietly. “Every hidden village has their secrets. Don’t worry, I won’t let anything happen to Sakura.”

“I know,” Mama says. “I know, Kizashi. I just worry.”

“Papa,” Sakura interrupts. “Carry me.”

Kizashi laughs. “Already? Aren’t you strong?”

Sakura sticks her tongue out at him. “I’m super strong. You still gotta carry me.”

Kizashi laughs. “Sound logic, there.” He bends down and scoops Sakura up and onto his shoulders. “Ready to go home?”

“We’re not going home, we’re going to the Konoha house. It’s different.”

“It won’t be so long, Sakura. You’ll get used to it,” Mama says.

“Hmm,” Sakura says. “I guess I do like Nacchan, and he’s from Konoha.”

“Very true,” Mama agrees. “You’ll get to know a lot of things from Konoha that you’ll like.”

“We’ll see,” Sakura says.