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I'm sorry in advance for any mistakes that may have escaped my notice. English is not my mother tongue.

Disclaimer : I do not own Naruto. Naruto belongs to Masashi Kishimoto.

Onerous Duty

"Two stars keep not their motion in one sphere"

-William Shakespeare, Henry IV, Part 1

"They should be here any minute now," she said expectantly while she was looking at herself in the mirror, making sure everything was as it should be. Tonight was supposed to be a special night and she wanted every detail to be perfect; from the mutton she had cooked to the dress that she had so carefully chosen for the occasion.

"Fugaku, are you ready yet?" she asked impatiently as she moved towards their bedroom wondering what took her husband so long.

Before she got there though, the door was thrown open revealing her husband's stern face with all the pride that no matter what, adorned it.

"Finally!" she exclaimed, but he simply rolled his eyes and passing her over, took his usual seat near the large window of their traditionally furnished living room. The black-haired woman kept standing in the middle of the wide hallway for a few seconds before another door's creak was heard.

Her son showed up looking at her with his sharp eyes; those dark eyes which always bore no other expression than calmness. But tonight they were hiding something: a trouble that his mother had been seeing in them for days.

"Don't be like that, my son. Your wife-to-be can't see you sullen," she told him never admitting that she herself was the one who couldn't stand the sight of him being sad.

"Forgive me, mother," replied he, "But you know that this betrothal wasn't my choice." He instantly felt sorry for saying that to her, knowing it would most probably hurt her.

"Shh…your father mustn't hear you say that," she whispered nervously and took one step closer to him. "I know it's hard for you, Itachi," she sighed, "and trust me, if it was in my hands I wouldn't permit neither you nor your brother to enter a marriage without love. But you know your father," she murmured as she averted her eyes from him. "He really wants that connection between the Uchiha and the Haruno clan and you are his successor as the eldest son."

The guilt discernible in her voice made him feel the need to reassure her. "Don't worry, mother. I'll do my duty as I always have," he answered with a perfectly straight face.

Still trying to keep her voice down, she added, "At least Sakura is a kind-hearted girl and you've known her for years even as Sasuke's teammate. And…" she smiled meaningfully before she went on, "you have to admit that she's good-looking too."

"I never thought anything against Sakura," replied he. "She's wonderful. She's just not…for me."

He seemed to be contemplating for a few seconds before he completed that last phrase. Right after that he asked, "Anyway where is Sasuke?"

"Right here, brother," a dark-haired man responded as he appeared from the corner of the long corridor they were standing in. He didn't stop. Instead he passed them over and just uttered, "Let's get this madness over with."

The displeasure in his voice was so obvious that his mother couldn't help commenting, "He scarcely says a word lately. I would expect him to be glad for you and his teammate. He must really dislike her."

"Yeah…he must," mumbled Itachi, still considering his mother's remark and gazing at his little brother's back. A loud knock on the large wooden front door was all it needed to take him out of his thoughts. And even if that wasn't enough, his mother's jubilant exclamation would definitely be effective.

After a couple of hours the dinner had eventually come to an end. Someone would expect an occasion like that to be extremely joyful for everyone since its main purpose was the engagement between two prudent and reputable young people. However, that night was far from mirthful to some and far more than merry to others. The typical greetings and compliments from both families had preceded the guests' leaving.

"Mikoto-san, the food was great!" said the middle-aged blonde woman who never omitted to show her enthusiasm. "Kizashi and I enjoyed it very much. You should definitely give me the recipe!"

"Of course my dear, you'll have it next time you visit," replied the delicate woman with the long straight hair.

"Next time you're coming to our home," responded the blue-eyed man with the dull-pink hair who was standing beside his wife listening to the two women's conversation.

"I won't accept any objection, Fugaku," he added as he turned his gaze to his future co-father-in-law.

"You'll get none," assured him the stoic man with the sharp features who was across the couple, next to his own spouse.

At the same time the beautiful bride-to-be was greeting her future husband before she followed her parents back home.

"Thank you for your hospitality, Itachi-san," commented the pink-haired lady smiling.

"It was my pleasure," said the charming man in an effort to be an agreeable host as much as he could.

The slim girl nodded lightly and added, "Good night."

Then she looked toward her former teammate who was standing by the window without looking in their direction. "Good night, Sasuke-kun," she uttered never taking her emerald eyes off him. He didn't answer anything though, as if he was ignoring her presence.

Itachi took a glance at his usually taciturn brother who seemed even more reluctant to respond than he was most of the times. Sensing Sakura's embarrassment at that moment and trying himself to rectify Sasuke's behavior, the long-haired man replied, "Good night, Sakura-san."

As soon as the Haruno family took their leave, the Uchiha patriarch withdrew into his bedroom to sleep since it was already long past time for him. The other three members of the prestigious family kept their places in the spacious living room.

"Pff…I need to tidy this mess," sighed the devoted housewife exhausted as she saw the sloppiness prevalent in her house. "Could you bring the dishes to the kitchen, boys?" she asked kindly hoping for her sons' perpetual willingness to give her a hand.

Itachi immediately got up to help his tired mother, as it was expected. What was not expected was Sasuke's reaction to that request.

"I'm sorry, don't wait for me," were the only words muttered by the young man before he walked hastily out of the house. His tone of voice disclosed his underlying irritation that was suspected by his brother since the afternoon.

Mikoto looked in amazement as her youngest son stormed off. If there was one thing which could characterize the men of the Uchiha family, that was nonchalance. She had always been confused every time Itachi described his brother using words as 'wild spirit' when they were younger. She could only see a total control of emotion and she had rarely witnessed him losing his composure. That time was apparently one of those few moments.

"Sasuke-kun? Where is he going so late?" she asked worried, but without taking an answer from her eldest son who seemed as much concerned as she was.

He felt as if he were drowning at home. He wanted to disappear from there although he felt already banished. He needed some fresh air and there was only one place he could go to: the training grounds of team seven.

It wasn't a cold night. It was spring after all and besides, Konoha was renowned for its bright and warm weather. He was standing in the dense forest trying to wash away his thoughts. There was absolute silence until that voice sounded; the voice which was capable of shaking his entire world even if he would never admit that out loud.


Hearing her even call his name was enough to make him lose his temper at that moment.

"What the hell are you doing here?" he asked abruptly and turned around to face her. He furrowed his brow and started examining her countenance discreetly. She was still wearing the same dainty dark-green kimono. Obviously she left her house as soon as her parents fell asleep. The shine in her jade eyes was visible even in the night's darkness. It wasn't surprising to him though. Every time he was looking at them it was like he could see a lightning. And he really did fancy lightning; it was one of the elements he was able to use formidably after all. On the other side her luminous pink hair was something he would never get completely used to. But he wouldn't get used to living without seeing it either. Her fair skin was another thing that could fluster him as well. Viewing it, while he was trying to restrain himself from touching it, almost made him feel sinful. She was a sight to behold.

"Go home," he added more composed than before.

"I knew you would be here. I was hoping to see you," she nearly whispered lowering her head slightly to avoid his eyes. She had suddenly felt uncomfortable under his gaze. Or maybe she had felt as much tempted to get closer, while looking at his alluring obsidian orbs, as he felt every time he knew she was near. Perhaps even being residents of the same world was all it needed for both to be in temptation.

"Fine. You saw me. You can go now," he answered coldly. "We shouldn't be seen together," he continued, remaining utterly impassive.

"It didn't seem to bother you before," she uttered timidly. Although Sasuke had never been a demonstrative person, he didn't use to turn her away. If anything, he was always eager to meet her. She was sure of that. It was one of those things she didn't need to be told; one of those things she had felt. So that time she was quite confused about his peculiar conduct. She could excuse his anger, she was angry herself. But she could not comprehend why he had turned his anger towards her.

"Well, it does now. Leave," he said as he set his jaw.

She lifted up her head at those words and what she detected in his lovely black eyes was a clear iciness. It almost hurt her.

"Don't say that, Sasuke-kun. Please," she entreated while looking at him intently. "You know it's not my fault. You can't blame me for that betrothal." At that point she was trying to excuse herself for something that she wasn't responsible for and that fact had made her vexed.

"You don't look so sorry for it though," he replied flatly. "At least tonight you didn't," he went on sarcastically.

"What do you mean by that?" she asked as she tilted her head.

That question was apparently enough to infuriate him and he couldn't help shouting, "You were talking to him all the time, Sakura! You were smiling! I presume that this engagement doesn't sadden you as much as you claim."

"What are you talking about?"

Minute by minute she was getting more irritated. "What did you expect me to do? To tell everyone that I am in love with you since the academy? Or to reveal the truth about us being together for four years?"

"Maybe not to laugh at any foolish thing he was saying," he responded, his nostrils flaring.

"I was just being nice!" said she. "For Kami's sake, Sasuke… I've given you my heart," she uttered with a shaking voice.

"You'll get it over on your honeymoon," he finally replied, as if he attached no importance at all to her words.

At that moment she was the one who wasn't able to keep her temper under control. "You know what? Screw you!" she yelled giving him a fierce glare. "I hate the look of reproach you give me like I'm the one who caused all this! I hate the way you think that you're the only one in pain here! And I hate you for assuming that I would like to be even touched by any other man besides you! Yes, Uchiha Sasuke. I hate y―"

In a blink of an eye she found herself pinned hard against a tree. Before she could even realize what had happened, he was kissing her passionately. He couldn't resist the urge to approach her anymore. And even the thought of being loathed by Sakura had rendered him unable to hold himself.

She had responded to his fiery kiss instantly. That handsome man was the only one whom she would ever love and devote herself to after all. And whatever she said, she was ready to give up everything just to be with him. She had been ready since they were seventeen and they started dating. She hadn't told him so though, but she would. It was the only solution she could think of.

"I'm sorry," he murmured in her ear with his deep and quite seductive voice. He had hurt her. He was aware of that and he wanted to make up for his behaviour.

She opened her sparkling eyes, which were shut until that moment, and his own bloody ones came into view. He had activated his sharingan judging from the swirling tomoes.

She always found his crimson eyes breathtaking although it wasn't an unusual sight to her. He often used his kekkei genkai when she was with him. He had never explained the reason for that though. She preferred to believe that he wanted to memorize every minute they spent together. At least that's what she would do if she had his ability.

And the truth is that she was right. Sasuke's wish was to be able to bring to his remembrance her serene face when they were asunder. Her countenance was so ethereal and sensual that he desired to remember every perfect detail. He wouldn't risk forgetting anything.

That time she was the one who couldn't resist and kissed him gripping his face. She would never get used to his heavenly taste as he would never get used to her sweet scent.

They both knew what would follow that fierce kiss. They had known it since the first moment their bodies came in contact; since the first second his skin touched hers and their lips met. They craved each other. It was always like that; the same longing, the same fervor, the same passion.

They were madly in love with each other and their love was their greatest power and their deadliest weakness. She felt alive when they were together. She needed him just like the moon needs the sun's light in order to glow itself. But to him she was the sun, because the sun doesn't ask anything in return.

"What are we going to do?" she asked as soon as they were both fully clothed.

"We have to stay away from each other," he replied with his broad back facing her.

"I can't…" she whispered almost inaudibly, staring at the ground.

He turned around to look at her at that moment. He knew that they couldn't. But he was also conscious that he had a family duty and they would be hunted down if she eloped with him. He shouldn't put her in such misery. He got closer and said strictly, "Look at me."

However there was no reaction from her.

"Damn it, Sakura, just look at me!" he almost shouted with his authoritative voice.

She lifted up her gaze and blinked seeing his mesmerizing red eyes.

"Your eyes…I've never seen that pattern in them," she said surprised noticing the three intersecting ellipses appeared in his orbs.

He gripped her face gently with his right hand and uttered, "There is only one solution: to forget."

She gave him an inquiring expression.

"What do you m―" she never completed her phrase as the realization struck her and her eyes widened. "No, Sasuke, please don't―"

"There was nothing between us."

"―no, no, no, please," she begged as she burst into tears hearing his words.

"We were just teammates," he broke in. "We never felt anything for each other," he paused for a second and noticed that she was just staring unable to counteract. "You're going to marry Itachi and you will be very happy about it."

She passed out at the same moment and he instantly caught her in his arms.

'Now you've got your heart back. Although you've got mine as well,' he thought staring at her.