Over the timeskip, Sakura spends a little time somewhere she shouldn't, and she thinks and she dreams.
Let's face it, Sakura is a bit creepy in this one, but that's all right--it's why we love her.
It is amazing how little security there is on the empty old Uchiha compound.
But then, who would break in, over these years when its last living inhabitant has fled to the enemy? You'd have to be a little strange in the head to even want to go there.
That's all right. Sakura doesn't feel the need to be normal any more. Right now, what she feels is a need to be where Sasuke once was. That won't make the ill misery of his absence any better in the long run, but maybe it'll ease the hurt enough for her to sleep tonight.
She stands at the gate and looks at the single chain winding about the entrance. It's the only security the village has bothered to put up.
Somehow, it's still too much.
Why would they bar the Uchiha grounds, now when there's no one to go there? Sakura can think of no reason beyond a superstitious desire to shut off everything Sasuke represented--including their own failure to save him. Not that they'd like to admit it to themselves.
Of course, she could just be projecting. She's good at recognizing when she does something like that, these days. Being more self-aware is a pain in the ass, but she's strong enough to put up with it now.
More than anything, Sakura wants to grab that chain and tear it away. She wants to kick down the gates, warp wood and steel and blast open the village's guilty secret. She wants to show them that they can't, they won't forget Sasuke--or at least, she and Naruto won't.
For a moment, she leans forward, and she very nearly begins to channel chakra to her fists. Then she restrains herself--her self-control is marvelous. It always has been.
No, now is not the time. They'll tear the locked gates down together--her and Naruto and Sasuke. She has to keep believing that day will come, or else it'll all be meaningless.
For now, she turns, walks away, and starts climbing over the fence.
The Uchiha compound is the quietest, emptiest place Sakura has ever been. She's almost surprised. Some silly part of her expected there to be ominous creakings and mysterious footsteps. Shouldn't there be ghosts?
No, there shouldn't be ghosts, she realizes. The last living Uchiha packed up all the ghosts and took them with him when he left. There's nothing left here, nothing at all.
She pulls open the door to the main house, the place where Sasuke spent his childhood, and steps inside, pulling the door closed behind her. Everything is distressingly loud in the smothering silence.
She was wrong. There is one thing left here: echoes. Dead, pointless echoes. But woven into the cobwebby echoes of the dead are brief glimpses of Sasuke, and he isn't lost yet. That's what Sakura came here for.
She makes it to the bedroom, Sasuke's bedroom, almost without thinking. She's not entirely sure how she does it, but there's a part of her that knows Sasuke on a level deeper than the real. A year or two ago, she might have been scared of this. Fourteen-year-old girls aren't supposed to love like that. They're supposed to experiment, move from boy to boy, learn, get over their first love and move on. Two years ago, she didn't want to be different.
Sasuke changed that. So did Naruto, in his way. Now she embraces the strength within her.
Sakura sits down on Sasuke's bed--it's softer than she expected. She thought maybe he'd torture himself with a hard bed every night. But then, he hasn't actually been here in years, has he? Even before he left the Leaf, he'd moved elsewhere. Away from the dark memories, as if he could rid himself of them. Not that he'd want to, really. Sakura knows that.
She looks down as she pulls off her shoes, and she realizes that she's not like him. That's obvious, of course, but she thought at first that she came here tonight seeking the past. But he hasn't slept here for years, so what is there for her here?
She's not sure. She only knows that this cool, dark room is a comfort in its bizarre way.
Sakura lies down. Then she stops. In the near-darkness, she can see something sitting on the nightstand. She reaches out and brushes her fingers over its surface--there are buttons. It's a tape player. Without really thinking, she pushes the "play" button.
There's a pause, a rustling, and then a recorded voice, a boy's voice, very small and curious, says, "What are you doing, mother?"
Another voice answers, a woman's, sure and sweet. "I'm making a song for you, Sasuke-kun."
And she sings.
Sakura sinks down into the bed, pulling the covers over her. She listens to the song--it's a lullaby, and it draws her close to sleep.
For a few moments, though, she stops there, on the silver-blue edge of sleep, and suddenly, with the voice of the past murmuring sweetly to her, she understands why she's here. She's not here for the past; she's here for the future.
She's here for a future where she's the lady of this house, and her children run through the hallways. She'll sing to them, but they won't grow up like Sasuke and Itachi--they'll grow up whole and true. And Sasuke will love them, and he'll love her, and he'll love Naruto, who will run through the halls with the children.
Sakura sleeps, and she dreams of the right and perfect future.