Sakura had grown up with lessons that she was a Haruno, Harunos are the trees and the earth and that Harunos never married out.
Contrary to Konoha’s belief, the Harunos did have a kekkai genkai. It just wasn’t useful in battle and in the days of the old, the Harunos were revered. They fertilized the earth when they died, blooming into pastures and trees, orchards heavy with fruits. Vegetation that would continue to bloom and grow decades even after their deaths.
Now with the event of chakra and jutsu, the need and reverence for a person’s death had been significantly diminished. Why feed and wait for a person to age and die when you could pay a shinobi to do the same regularly?
So the Harunos adapted.
Instead, they bought a large plot of land and when they died, they would plant their bodies there, fertilizing the land and selling fruits and vegetables from it.
The Harunos became simple merchants.
The day Sakura insisted on becoming a shinobi, was the day she had a tattoo inked onto the small of her back.
History had largely forgotten them and the Harunos wanted it to stay it that way. As long as no one released her seal, she would not turn into earth when she died. That was their own requirement.
Of course, all that changed when the Chuunin Exams happened.
It was assumed that the Harunos had been forgotten. The Suna clearly did not.
“Let go off the boy,” Sakura growls at the strange kabuki painted boy.
“Ha— Haruno?!” the boy splutters.
“I apologise on my brother’s behalf if the kid was one of yours Haruno-sama,” the blonde girl with twin pigtails says nervously. “Kankuro!” she hisses at her brother and he quickly sets Konohamaru onto the floor.
“So— so sorry for this!” Kankuro stammers, bowing as his sister drags him away.
“I didn’t know you were a big shot,” Sasuke says when the two siblings vanish from sight.
I didn’t know either, was what Sakura really wanted to say. Also, she would definitely need to report this to the clan elders.
In retrospect, as a shinobi, Sakura should have planned for eventualities where she would be interesting to other shinobis.
Sakura’s a Haruno. Harunos are considered civilian in the fire country region. There is literally no one who would kidnap them for any reason — maybe except for that merchant clan in Iron.
So when she found herself on the back of a Suna shinobi, Sakura is completely embarrassed by her first reactions. She did not act like a genin or even as shinobi in training.
She had, instead, screamed “Pervert!”
Sakura states several times in her report later, that it had been a reaction to someone grabbing her butt and legs. Kakashi-sensei later ups her evasion training.
Kakashi-sensei is also confused why a Suna-nin would attempt to kidnap his civilian student. Neither Kakashi nor Sakura realises until much later when Gaara becomes the Kazekage that Harunos are a legend there, thought to have died out in the warring era.
The Harunos are worshipped in Suna.
“Why are you worshipped?” Shikamaru asks Sakura months after Temari had revealed the Haruno religion in Suna. ‘You’re civilians,’ he doesn’t say. He can’t figure out why and neither Temari nor Kankuro would say why.
“Would you like to see why?” Sakura says as she moves her gold general across the board.
He nods and counters her move. “Tsumi.” Sakura had been lasting longer against him. With more practice, she might even become as good as a Nara.
“Next week, Thursday. Wear something formal and come over at four pm. Don’t be late.”
The requirement of wearing something formal is ominous enough to rope Ino into joining him. Shikamaru knows with the right buttons, Ino would be curious enough and he is right.
“What kind of situation would we even need formalwear anyway?” Ino grumbles the entire way to the Haruno compound. They arrive precisely at four on Thursday. Both dressed in their formal black kimonos. Sakura definitely not wearing formal black kimono, instead she, her aunt and probably nephew are all wearing bright red qipao.
Sakura rises from her seiza, giving them a formal bow as the little boy ushers them in, fetching their geta and offering guest slippers.
“Nara Shikamaru, heir to the Nara Clan, Yamanaka Ino, heir to the Yamanaka Clan, Haruno Sakura, heir to the Haruno Clan greets you. You are welcomed here,” Sakura greets.
They stiffen. Shikamaru had never known Sakura was a clan heir. It’s likely because the Harunos were… are… civilians?
Shikamaru is actually not sure anymore. There has to be a reason why a whole village would worship them and attempt to negotiate the Harunos setting up a branch in Suna during the diplomatic meetings.
“What is going on?” Ino hisses to Sakura when they are alone in the hallway.
“Shikamaru asked to see why we’re worshipped. It so happens that there’s a funeral today.”
What has a funeral have to do with being worshipped?
“A funeral? I didn’t ask to go to a funeral.” Ino eyes Sakura’s bright red qipao then glances at the other Haruno’s funeral red qiapo.
Ino is tactful enough to not ask why anyone would wear red to a funeral, instead follows Sakura silently down the hallways.
“Please do not make a sound and fidget during the service,” Sakura whispers when they reach the door to the courtyard.
Ino scoffs. “We’re clan heirs. Of course, we know not to.”
Motioning to another little boy, Sakura pushes the boy forward. “This is Hibino. If you need anything, you can ask him. These two are Nara Shikamaru, heir to the Nara Clan, Yamanaka Ino, heir to the Yamanaka Clan. Take care of them, Hibino-kun.”
The pink haired boy grumbles under his breath but plasters a service smile. “Haruno Hibino, second in line at your service.”
Sakura’s words are oddly specific that Shikamaru wonders if he’s overthinking it.
Hibino shows them to seats on the engawa. “When the procession starts, you can follow behind me. Please remain silent.”
“We’re clan heirs too,” Ino mutters indignantly.
Shikamaru can’t help but feel a shudder. Likely because the sun is setting. Not because of the shadows in the forest, or how wild the Haruno forest looks.
The Nara forest has all these too.
Sakura is upfront next to a woman wearing white at the end of the pathway. The Harunos stand along the path, holding up tiny lamps. A man wearing white carries an old woman, with blanket folded around her, in his arms steps onto the path.
There is no sound. Not even the sound of the birds roosting as the sun sets. Not even the sound of the leaves.
The man takes the lead, followed the Sakura and the woman in white, Shikamaru and Ino are near the last to follow. The forest is dim enough that Shikamaru has to circulate chakra in his eyes to see the path before him and he wonders how the other Harunos don’t seem to have a problem. They walk far into the forest, until they hit a clearing when the man places the old woman in the middle. Sakura bites her forefinger and crouches next to the old woman, drawing symbols on the woman’s face.
“Bloom,” the woman in white says.
“Bloom,” the Harunos chorus.
“Into the Spring coursing through our veins.”
Sakura stands next to the woman in white, just over the old woman.
“Grow,” the woman in white says.
“Grow!” the Haruno chorus, this time louder.
“Into the fruits and trees that we partake.” The woman in white holds her arms up and the Harunos roar as Sakura presses her hands into a tiger seal. The blood on the old woman glows briefly
“FLY!” they scream.
There’s a heavy silence, a pause that Shikamaru idly muses if he had just witnessed a sacrificial rite. Then a shuddering, an explosion of branches and leaves, trees and earth exploding from the old woman around them.
Ino claps her hands over her mouth, muffling her shriek.
The clearing turns into an overgrown forest, the dirt becomes grass, the sprouts become the trees, the trees grow fruits and dip their branches.
All in a span of minutes.
Almost like watching Yamato using mokuton, except these are civilians, people that shouldn’t have a kekkai genkai. What is a civilian clan with a kekkai genkai called? Is a civilian with kekkai genkai even a civilian?
Shikamaru watches all these and realises with horrifying clarity that even in the shinobi world, a clan with the ability to sprout fruits and trees in a matter of minutes is irreplaceable.
How has no one wondered how the Haruno sells fruits even in the dead of winter?
Shikamaru goes home with more questions than answers.
Sakura punches the clones into submission. How dare this Pein person attack Konoha. She punches the puppet through the wall but it still gets up.
It’s likely that she will die today, Sakura realises. Thank the sage for the seal her clan head had forced onto her when she insisted on becoming a shinobi. At least she won’t accidentally turn land into a forest when she dies, or at least not without another Haruno’s chakra.
Then a meteor crashes into Konoha.
Sakura holds onto her conscious long enough to see the broken buildings transform into a valley of Sakura trees and thinks that soon she’ll join them.
Except she doesn’t die. Not permanently that is.
Sakura wakes up to a crater of what was once Konoha but now trees and to the knowledge that Pein had resurrected all the people who died in his attack, except the Harunos. Not the Harunos, because they had a kekkai genkai that activated when they die, converting them bodies into earth.
If there was no body, there is no way Pein could have converted them back.
Sakura becomes the last Haruno. The only person in a village full of people that day, to shed tears of sorrow instead of tears of relief and joy.