"This winter I am ready,

For love and warm lights shining,

So draw near

Draw near to me

The season colors my soul

I'm singing so everyone might know

Might know I'm here with you"

This Winter by the Workday Release

Winter was Sakura's favorite season. It was absolutely wonderful, especially when it snowed in Konoha. The snow had to be her favorite part; it felt as if she was walking on clouds. Call her crazy, but Sakura considered the cold and the freezing chill one of the best things about winter. The cold air was always refreshing. Sakura had woken up early this morning, and had spent extra time admiring the snow at Konoha City Park, and once the sun had risen, she had walked to work. Sakura had been able to complete all of her work (not that she didn't anyways) and was able to come home an hour earlier. It was around nine when Sakura had arrived in her small yet comfy apartment. She picked up the mail and dropped it on to her coffee table. Everything was fine... until she saw it.

That fancy invitation envelope written in neat handwriting that matched her own, lying there on her damn coffee table. Sakura was rather annoyed and exhausted, since she had just come home from her shift at Konoha Hospital (being the head medic was tiring, you know?) and all she wanted to do right now was sleep. Alas, that damned invitation kept calling to her, as if it was mocking her, forcing her to pick it up and read it. Sakura sat down on her small sofa and carefully opened the ivory envelope and pulled a neatly printed letter. She quickly read through, her eyes scanning every word. Sakura folded the letter and placed it back into the envelope, and sighed. It was an invitation to the New Year's Ball, being held by Tsunade-shishou (one of the world's notorious and brilliant doctors, and her mentor), Jiraiya-san (damned pervert who wrote "literature") and Orochimaru-san (research scientist...creep.) In other words, the most important and hilarious adults of her childhood, and therefore, she would HAVE to attend. Sakura did appreciate the effort for the invitation in short notice, so she decided not to unceremoniously throw it on the ground and stomp on it. Besides some foreign visitors, Sakura knew that almost everyone from Konoha that she knew would be there. Just her damn luck. Tsunade-shishou had mentioned the ball before, but Sakura would have never thought that it was this serious.

Sakura also knew that any minute now, Ino would call and probably force Sakura to sleepover for the next few days. Ino would attempt to 'prettify' her friends for the Ball, and as always, she went overboard, as Tenten and Sakura did NOT appreciate Ino's cruel ways of "prettifying," as she screeched ("NO, YOU ARE NOT ALLOWED TO LEAVE THE HOUSE UNTIL I'M DONE, BETCH. SIT BACK DOWN, NAOW!") Sakura's cell phone started ringing, and she groaned. Sakura slowly walked towards her small dining table and picked up the unholy device, and answered...

"INO-PIG, I REFUSE," Sakura growled.

Ino replied happily, "Forehead!"

"No, you pig. I don't have time for you; don't even think about it, Ino."

"SAKURAAAAA, YOU HAVE NO CHOICE!"

"YES I DO, THIS IS MY LIFE AND I CAN DO WHATEVER I WANT-"

"SHUT THE HELL UP YOU STUBBORN MONKEY, YOU HAVE NO CONTROL OVER THIS. GET YOUR ASS TO MY HOUSE, THE OTHER FUGITVIES ARE BEING HELD HERE AS WELL."

"You are unbelievable. Seriously, I do not appreciate this blasphemy," Sakura pouted. Sakura could only imagine the evil grin that Ino had on her face as she said, "Oh, you love meeee. See you later!"

Sakura ended the call with a small, unknowing smile on her face. Then she thought about Ino and her evil witch ways, and she decided that maybe life kind of hated her. Nonetheless, she dragged herself to her room and searched for her red duffel bag. She placed her usual necessities, her journal, laptop, pens, and...clothes. Oh yeah, clothes, she needed those. Oh, and the silly invitation that got her into this mess in the first place. Sakura also placed Hinata's gift in her bag, and smirked. Hinata would have never guessed what Ino, Tenten, and herself bought for Hinata, she was their graceful best friend that deserved the world.

Sakura decided that before she went to Ino's, knowing it would be a long night, she needed to prepare herself. That meant a shower. Immediately, Sakura went to the bathroom, undressed and jumped into the shower. Sakura sighed contentedly, the water was soothing, especially after a long day. She allowed the hot, scalding water to drip down her body. It resolved the stress and pain gained from working too much and helped her calm down. After about 20 minutes, she completed her shower routine and decided the shower had lasted long enough. Sakura wrapped a towel around her head and one around her body. Sakura slowly opened the door, and let out an earsplitting scream when she saw Naruto sitting on her bed.

"NARUTO, WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING HERE?" Sakura yelled.

At first, Naruto looked surprised and, then grinned mischievously. "SAKURA-CHAAAAAAN, MY INNOCENT EYES, PUT ON SOME CLOTHES!" He covered his eyes in fake innocence.

"Then get off my clothes, you dumbass," she replied.

Naruto peeked through his hands, only to receive a punch on the arm. "OW, DAMMIT SAKURA-CHAN, THAT HURT," he cried and rubbed his arm.

"That was the point! NOW GET OUT!"

Naruto laughed and threw Sakura her clothes, as she caught them with ease. Making sure her towel was still on her body; Sakura aggressively pushed him out of her room and slammed the door in his face. Naruto continued laughing, (what was so funny anyway?) and said, "Don't tell Sasuke-teme about this, he'll kill me!" Sakura grumbled to herself about a male best friend/brother who always broke into her home and invaded her personal space, and Naruto smiled widely from the other side.

Sakura changed into her black sweatpants and a green t-shirt (probably Naruto's) and opened the door, to find Naruto talking on his phone. "I know, Ino, I'm bringing her to your house. No, I'm NOT taking her to Ichiraku, and fine, I won't!" Naruto grumbled. His eyes lit up as he saw her and Naruto hung up his phone. Naruto stretched out his hand for Sakura's bag and she gladly gave it to him. "Is that my shirt?" he asked, "...maybe," she said and whistled knowingly. They walked to the living room and Sakura put on her sweatshirt and finally, her jacket as they quickly walked out of her apartment. They quietly walked to his car, Naruto talking about his life since the last he saw her, which was only Tuesday, and today was Thursday. He was talking about his job, working with the Hyuuga's (courtesy of Hinata) in one of their many dojos, teaching children martial arts. Naruto was talking about three kids in particular—Konohamaru Moegi, and Udon that reminded him of himself, Sakura, and Sasuke. "They were always like us," Sakura replied as she watched the flurries of snow fall on the ground. Naruto nodded in agreement; after all, those three were forced to team up with Naruto, Sakura, and Sasuke during their days in the dojo. Sakura welcomed small drops of snow on her face and smiled, it truly was the best time of year.

"You know, Sakura-chan, you should pay me because I drive you around everywhere," Naruto whined. Sakura cackled maniacally, and yelled, "YOU ARE MY SLAVE!" The other people on her street looked at her strangely, but she didn't care. "I AM NOT YOUR SLAVE SAKURA-CHAN. I HAVE MY RIGHTS-" Naruto's yelling was cut off, "Just shut up, Naruto, you have no say in this, fool," Sakura said. Naruto did as he was told, not before poking Sakura, something he knew that would irk her to no end. Sakura threw Naruto a murderous glare, and he gulped.

When they finally reached his car, he opened the door for her and she finally sighed as she sat in the passenger seat. Naruto's car was probably one of the relaxing places in the world. The smell of the leather seats and the way the seat was arranged; just the way she liked it. She didn't care that it was bright orange and caught everyone's attention when it came into view. It was always there for her when she needed to be driven and when she wanted to drive. Sakura wouldn't have it any other way. As Naruto began driving, Sakura closed her eyes and sighed contentedly. That is, until Naruto opened his big mouth.

"Sakura-chan?" Naruto asked quietly. "Hmm, Naruto?" Sakura replied.

"Do you miss Sasuke-teme?"

"Of course I do, but he's coming back next year, so it's okay."

"Don't you want him to be here, with us?! He's coming back in March!"

"Naruto, he's Sasuke. He can't do everything he wants, whenever he wants. I would love for him to be here, with us. When the clock strikes twelve on the last day of the year, and we're all excited and anxious for the new one...I would love if Sasuke was here to celebrate, but he can't since he's Sasuke," she mumbled.

"I know, Sakura-chan," he paused. "Do you remember the summer before college, when Sasuke-teme, you, and I went to the beach on his birthday?"

"Of course I do! That was the day we escaped his surprise party and drove so far away…We raced each other to the water, you, Sasuke and I were in there for hours until we saw the sun come up," Sakura replied softly.

"That was also the day he said that he would never leave us," Naruto said. Sakura nodded her head and turned away from Naruto to stare out on the street of the snow-covered suburban houses. Sakura welcomed the cold air and she closed her eyes and took a deep breath. Talking about Sasuke always made her feel nostalgic and…upset. Sakura had gotten use to Sasuke's long periods of absence, but everyone knew it was slowly breaking her inside. (Although she would never admit it out loud).

Naruto stopped driving, which probably meant that he was in front of Ino's gigantic home, (she still lived with her father much to his amusement). Sakura opened her eyes and placed her hands in Naruto's. He squeezed her hands in comfort and she placed her head on his shoulder. "I really do miss him, Naruto," Sakura said. Naruto nodded, "Me too, Sakura-chan, me too." Sakura's eyes came across the bright blue digits in Naruto's car that read 10:51. Sakura realized that she should get going, besides, that pig would come out and drag her out of the car any minute. She motioned Naruto to let go of her and he got out of the car to grab her bag. She opened her door and jumped out, slamming the door back.

"SAKURA-CHAAAN, WHY DO YOU ALWAYS SLAM MY DOOR?"

"Shut up, Naruto. Deal with it."

"SAKURA-CHAN, WHY ARE YOU SO MEAN TO ME?"

"Because I can be?" Sakura smiled and Naruto pouted. Naruto stuck his tongue out and Sakura shook her head in disapproval. "Tsk, tsk Naruto, you must behave yourself-"

"OI, FOREHEAD, GET YOUR ASS INTO MY HOUSE! NARUTO, LOVE, MY PARTNER IN CRIME, HINATA'S LOVERBOY, PLEASE SHUT UP AND GO HOME. OKAY? THANKS. BYEEEEE! Ino yelled from her window. "SHUT UP INO, MY VOICE IS LOWER THAN YOURS!" Naruto yelled back. Sakura stared at them in annoyance, and said, "oi, both of you have equally loud voices." "NO WE DO NOT," both and Ino and Naruto yelled at the same time. Sakura sighed and decided that she must intervene before they got into another argument. Honestly, Naruto and Ino were so alike, blond, bold, and annoying; making them clash about everything which was hilarious.

"Thank you for everything Naruto, I really appreciate it. See you soon!" Sakura said. She walked to his side of the car and ruffled his hair. Sakura leaned down to his ear and said "You better have gotten Hinata the best damn gift of her life or you will never see the next day of your life." Naruto gulped and laughed sheepishly, as Sakura smirked. Satisfied with her threat, she waved to him as he drove away.

Sakura ran up the small rounding steps to Ino's house, and rang the bell. Inoichi-san kindly welcomed her in, "Sakura, how are you?" he said tiredly. He had been busy, with the business at the flower shop and keeping his rambunctious daughter in check. They climbed the stairs, as Inoichi-san walked Sakura to Ino's room. "I'm well, Inoichi-san! You should get some rest, you look exhausted!" He chucked, "Ah, yes, of course, help yourself to anything you need," he said and ruffled her hair. "Of course, Inoichi-san, goodnight!" she waved as he went downstairs.

Once Sakura heard his footsteps reach the end of the stairs, she kicked the door open and said, "What's up guys?" and flopped on to Ino's bed. "Sakura, my betch. Where have you beeeeeen?" Ino glomped her. "Sakura!" Tenten yelled and flopped on Sakura. "What the hell guys? I can't breathe, get off me you apes," Sakura's muffled voice was heard through the blankets. Ino screamed, "I AM NOT AN APE!" and Tenten looked offended, "YOU ARE MY SUBORDINATE, BOW DOWN TO THE AWESOMENESS OF TENTEN!" Ino and Tenten continued to glomp Sakura. Hinata stared at her friends exasperatedly."Ino, Tenten behave yourselves and get off Sakura this instant!" Hinata flailed.

"Of course, Hinata-sama," Tenten replied in her best imitation of Neji's voice."BUT HINATA-CHAAAAN-" Ino stated in her best imitation of Naruto's voice, Hinata's cheeks flamed. Hinata did not condone this embarrassment, no she did not. She took two pillows; throwing the largest one to Ino's head and the other one to Tenten. "Uh-oh," Sakura said as she prepared for the pillow fight.

"You did not just do that-" Ino and Tenten began, "Oh, but I did," Hinata replied meekly and squeaked as Ino and Tenten lunged at her with pillows. "Don't worry, Hinata! I'll save you," Sakura stated as she jumped on Ino and Tenten, causing them to fall on Ino's bed. Sakura and Hinata quickly escaped and went to the other side of the bed. Both Sakura and Hinata attempted to dodge Ino and Tenten's incoming pillows, as they separated and decided that they would take one girl down, one step at a time. Hinata giggled quietly as she ducked the pillow that was aimed at her face. She was not as skilled in pillow fights as her other friends, and she was lucky that she was able to hit Ino and Tenten. It had saved her life. Hinata slowly peeked up from her crouching position and looked around. Sakura was currently thrashing Tenten with Ino's life-size Hello Kitty pillow ("HELLO KITTY IS LIFE!") and...Ino was...Wait, where was Ino? Hinata turned around, only to be smacked by a fluffy pillow in her face-"Take that, Hinata-chaaaaan!" Ino cackled evilly. Suddenly, Tenten burst into her terrible singing, "I AM TITANIUUUUUMMMM!" while simultaneously getting smacked by Sakura with a pillow. Everyone looked at Tenten in horror and Sakura sat on her, effectively stopping her atrocious singing. "Get off me, you FIENNDDDD!" Tenten flailed. All of the girls burst out laughing, for Tenten's insults and impressions were more than enough to get all of the girls in a good mood.

After the pillow fight, the girls decided that they needed to relax. Tenten had kindly grabbed pizza ("Dammit, why do I always get the food?") on the way to Ino's, and handed the rest of the girls a slice. As usual, Ino had loads of candy and sugary sweets to munch on. ("Seriously, who needs alcohol when you have sugar?") Once the girls finished eating their food, Ino decided that it was time to listen to some music. Ino placed her laptop on the bed, and played one of her favorite songs, "Blank Space," by Taylor Swift. "Cause we're young and we're reckless, we'll take this way too far-," Ino screeched until she was rudely cut off, "IT'LL LEAVE YOU BREATHLESS, OR WITH A NASTY SCAR," Tenten screamed, causing Ino to pout, while sending Sakura and Hinata to a fit of giggles. They continued listening to music, not allowing Tenten to sing ("YOU SOUND LIKE A BANSHEE, BUT YOU KNOW WE LOVE YOU!") At one point, Ino and Tenten began to waltz to one of Hinata's favorites, "At the Beginning," by Richard Marx and Donna Lewis. Sakura and Tenten laughed as Ino ("I AM SO GRACEFUL!") tripped on the laptop charger and fell face down on the carpet. Finally, Ino and Tenten both tired from their dancing and singing flopped on to the bed. Unintentionally, Sakura began humming to one of her favorite songs "Love In A Box," by The Workday Release. Hinata smiled knowingly, as Ino and Tenten played the song on the laptop. All was quiet, for Ino, Hinata, and Tenten knew that Sakura was thinking about Sasuke. Once the song finished, the room remained quiet. Hinata, already sitting next to Sakura, squeezed her hand comfortingly and rubbed her back in soothing circles. Sakura and looked at Ino and Tenten through teary eyes and whispered a quiet "Thank you."

Tenten slowly removed the laptop from the bed and decided to change the song; it was too emotional in the room…at least for her. She cackled evilly as she typed in the next song and put the laptop volume on high and stood. "NANTS INGONYAMA BAGITHI BABA," Tenten yelled and started jumping up and down. She turned around to see Hinata with a bewildered expression on her face as Sakura and Ino burst out laughing. The song continued to play as Tenten belt out the lyrics to "The Circle of Life." Eventually, Sakura had joined in, attempting to copy (and failing) Tenten's exotic dance moves, ("DANCE IS MY LIFE!")

Ino, noticing it was well past 12, quickly excused herself from her room, as Tenten and Sakura sang "A Whole New World," to Hinata. Sakura and Tenten gathered Hinata on Ino's bed along with their presents, as Ino came into the room. Hinata, fully aware of everything that could possibly happen, was about to protest when- "Happy Birthday Hinata, we love you so very much," Ino said as she came in with a small vanilla, ice cream cake, with a candle in the shape of a rose that had the number '21' on it. "Hinata-sama, ("Tenten!") HAPPY BIRTHDAY!" Tenten yelled, and handed Hinata her gift. "Happy Birthday Hinata!" Sakura said as she placed her gift next to Tenten's. They all began singing as Hinata began tearing up, she really had the most embarrassing, craziest friends, you know? (Even though she wanted nothing on her actual birthday, they managed to work their way around it.)

"Make a wish, beautiful! YOU ONLY LIVE ONCE!" Ino flailed excitedly.

"Ino, please stop," Tenten groaned, as Sakura nodded her head solemnly.

Hinata smiled through her tears and wished that she would always have Sakura, Tenten, and Ino, to experience these moments with them. She blew the flame away, and all of them cheered. "CHEYAAHHHH BETCH!" Tenen screamed and pumped her fist in the air. Sakura giggled quietly, as Ino ranted on and on about Hinata's coming of age and how everything would be different. Ino took out the four spoons and handed one to each of her friends. Hinata took the candle out and set it aside on the nightstand (a memoir) as they all took generous bites of the small cake. Once they finished the cake, and after Ino ran downstairs to place everything in the sink, they decided that it was time for Hinata to open her presents.

"MINE FIRST!" Ino yelled excitedly, it was her house anyway, tch. These fools had nothing on her, heh. "Calm down, Ino. I'm opening it," Hinata replied quietly as she carefully took out the box from the gift bag, "HINATA! HURRY UP!" Ino was bouncing now; she couldn't wait to see how Hinata would react! Hinata gasped as she opened the box. There lay a beautiful purple three-quarter sleeved dress, with a lace bodice that had a jewel encrusted rhombus beneath the chest area, which held together a lavender colored silk that parted in the middle and flowed to the floor. Ino, with twinkling stars in her eyes; clapped excitedly and said "Don't you love it?" Sakura and Tenten smiled happily, as they all knew that this dress would make Hinata the most beautiful and extraordinary girl at the ball, and Ino also knew that Hinata would love it and that's why she could not help but buy it for her.

"NOW MIIIIINE!" Tenten flailed excitedly, as she practically threw it at Hinata. Hinata opened the box, and there was a shiny, black pair of Mary Janes' fitted in the box. There was a small bow attached to each latch and Hinata absolutely loved bows. Hinata stared as the heels for awhile, in fear and awe. Well, at least I'll have somewhat of a normal height now, she mused. "Okay, ENOUGH. IT'S MY TURN!" Sakura yelled excitedly, as she handed Hinata a velvet box. Hinata carefully opened the box and stared. There lay a long pair of shiny jewel encrusted dangly earrings that perfectly matched her dress. Hinata couldn't take it anymore, she began tearing up once again, "Thank you so much," she whispered.

"Don't be so dramatic, Hinata..," Sakura looked away, feeling conflicted and emotional at the same time, Sakura knew she would be crying too if she didn't look away. "Oh, Hinata, you deserve the best!" Ino wailed and Tenten nodded her in agreement. After much flailing and appreciation of Hinata's birthday gifts, they decided it was time to relax. Ino, once again, went downstairs and made some hot chocolate for her dear friends. After she placed whipped cream and drizzled syrup on top, she placed the four cups on a tray and carefully went upstairs. Ino opened the door and found Sakura, Tenten, and Hinata staring outside. The window was slightly open, allowing a cool breeze to sweep through the room. Ino handed a cup to each of her friends, as she placed herself next to Hinata. It was fully snowing outside, and it looked beautiful from the glow of the lights that were decorated on each house. The girls remained silent, as they took in the peaceful scenery. Hinata was not a winter person, she yearned for the rain and flowers of spring…however, she could not help but take in the snow on her early birthday morning. After watching the snow, the girls decided that it was time to sleep, it was already 2:30, and they all had a long Friday ahead of them, ("SAKURA, TENTEN, AND I MUST GET OUR DRESSES, ASDFGHJKL. HINATAAA, YOU MUST HELP!")

The girls made themselves comfortable on Ino's bed. Of course, they knew that none of them were going to sleep just yet, but they were tired nonetheless. Tenten and Hinata were stuck in the middle, as Sakura and Ino had claimed the edge of the bed long ago. "That's my side, dammit," Sakura said as ducked under the covers. "I don't want to sleep next to Sakura, all she does is talk," Tenten grumbled. "It's great blackmail, anyway," Ino said as she jumped into bed after Hinata. Sakura pouted and said, "I don't talk necessarily, I mumble..," she grinned sheepishly. "Tch, who knows what you're saying?" Tenten mumbled as she made herself comfortable. "We're getting way too old for this, seriously," Ino whined as she pulled the blanket towards herself. Tenten and Sakura gasped, as Hinata giggled. "WE SHALL NEVER BE OLD ENOUGH TO HAVE OUR ULTIMATE SLEEPOVERS, THIS IS WHERE EVERYTHING STARTED AND EVERYTHING WILL END. WE WILL ACHIEVE WORLD DOMINATION," Tenten and Sakura dramatically stated. All of the girls laughed loudly as they knew that these sleepovers were the best parts of their friendship.

As Ino turned off the last lamp, a comfortable silence set among them. However, the deafening silence was too much for Ino and she said just had to break it, "Hinataaaa, have you and Naruto banged yet?" Sakura cackled evilly, as Tenten snorted ("Ladylike? What?") Even through the darkness, one can make out Hinata's fierce blush and embarrassment emitting from her body. Hinata promptly fainted.

This is going to be a three-short, maybe? I'd love to know your thoughts, leave a review!