I was told by my friend that they would want a story wherein Sasuke and Sakura would face it each other and acknowledge their feelings. i did not really know how to do it so i decided to well, imagine a woman in the late twenties with a battered heart but deemed to be strong because amidst all that she had been through, she was able to pull herself together.

So i just hope that you will understand the intentions of these story.

Disclaimer: I do not own naruto.

Acceptance and Remorse

The woman with creamy pale beautiful skin lifted her face up to the sky. She was sitting on the bench well hidden beneath the soothing foliage of the cherry tree. A soft smile graced her beautiful lips while she tried to reminisce her past, all the things that had happened when she was young until the time that took her now, the present.

It was how she had remembered everything. The vast amount of sunshine that sprinkled its radiant glow around her never failed to lift her spirits up. The cool gentle wind that toyed with the glorious hip length tresses whose color resembled the cherry petals that were slowly and gracefully falling around her as if it was dancing to its secret tune.

The world was such a cruel thing to live in and yet, it was also kind. Its mysteries so well hidden meant to be discovered and to be learned. Yes she had discovered and had learned. Of the most aching and sweet mysteries that the world was to offer was the one thing that many of us had yearned to seek, achieve and to have.

She found love like most people had. She had known how it felt and basked within its vagueness. There was once a time when she had so naively thought that it was something so easily acquired but she knew better. She could probably say that of all the people who had loved, she had the most to learn.

And whence learned, its truth was something that she had to live up with. Love had so many inscrutable mysteries. It offered a promise of infinite bliss and yet, lingering behind it is the shadow of a million pains. You have to be strong to face them. But sometimes strength itself is not enough nor could faith protect you from its undesirable consequences.

Although she had seen people, most of them her closest friends achieve the one thing that she had not, she knew that it was not because of sheer dumb luck but because somehow, it was what fate wanted you to have. She had seen her friend, Neji defying fate just to be with his one true love Tenten and had risen above it.

But hers was not meant to be like that. How was she supposed to fight fate when what she had was an unrequited love? Although her soul cried out for it, although there were so many times when she had tried to bring fate into her own hands, she had understood that there were just some things that were not meant to happen or have, for that matter.

And now, years of wisdom and logic had taught her how to face it. She had finally understood. Just like what he had said to her a long time ago under a pale moon and cold night, 'destiny chooses our path for us. I am an avenger…this is where my journey begins'.

Yes, her path was this. And she had cried so many nights because she could not accept it until finally, she had surrendered. And when she finally did, she was somehow amazed at the soothing comfort that it had offered. Finally, she had found peace.

If there was one thing that she had regretted, it was because she had failed to understand him. If given the opportunity, she would somehow find a way to tell him. To make him understand that if only he could have given himself a chance he could have saved his soul and find happiness that he so well deserved. She could have helped him. But fate was so persistent and eventually she could not fight it anymore.

So now it is not unusual to find a pale skinned woman with a contrasting glorious pink hair sitting amidst the cherry trees enjoying the peace that it could offer. It is not unusual to find squirming little children and toddlers with pale pearl eyes just like their father or pineapple hairs with doe-like blue eyes running towards her impatiently waiting for her to acknowledge them.

Their love was something that she would always cherish. Looking at Neji and Tenten's children or Shikamaru and Ino's son who had his father's hair and lazy disposition and yet never failed to catch attention when decided to speak so much like his loud-mouthed mother; or Naruto and Hinata's twins…yes this is how love feels.

Her past was bittersweet, or so it seems. But she would not forget it nor does she wish to do so for if it was what she can only have as part of him, then she would gladly keep it. Acknowledging it somehow had helped her heal and it was one thing that she needed the most.

"Sakura-chan", a man with soft blue eyes and unruly blond hair approached her slowly.

"Yes, Hokage-dono?" she asked softly.

"Come now Sakura, I do not wish for you to call me just like that", he said sheepishly.

It would sometimes surprise her to know that this composed man used to be so noisy. Hinata's loving nature had somehow mellowed him down over the years.

"I'm sorry, Naruto. What is it that you wish to speak of?" she asked.

She watched as uncertainty and doubt flashed through cerulean eyes but she waited patiently until he would speak.

"If…well…um that is…." Naruto saw his gentle and soft-spoken friend raise a delicate eyebrow upon his stuttering, silently berating him to continue.

"What would you do if suddenly Sasuke comes and talks to you? Would you…give him the chance?" Naruto had never minced with words most especially when he became the Hokage, he had learned not to. And it was something that came to be of habit now and she thanked him for that.

"Yes I would, Naruto", the words came out clear and firm not a second to hesitate.

Naruto smiled at his friend and slowly whisked his children including his other friends away. They looked at the silent woman one more time before slowly walking away. His heart ached for her; he only wished that somehow, she would have been happier just like them.

Sometimes he would feel guilty that he was happy and yet she was not. But he knew that Sakura understood the circumstances more than he does. He hesitated a bit but when a soft albeit sad smile graced her lips as she tip her head to the side gracefully he knew that he should go and leave her be. It was her way of saying that that was how things are and should be. And so he tipped his head and bid her farewell.

He watched her lift her hand and waited for the butterfly to land on her slim index finger. She had been sitting there waiting for him. But he hesitated. How was he going to approach her? Would she be willing to face him after all he had done?

He had watched her a while ago talking to her god children and to his 'used to be comrades'. He had been told that a lot of her had changed. That she was so far from the annoying simpering girl who used to chase him around. That she was not weak anymore but the strongest kunoichi now. He watched as she silently looked at her surroundings, there was peace and serenity in her now. She moved with grace and purpose.

He slowly moved from where he was standing and watched as the butterfly fluttered its wings before flying. Just like her, so fragile and beautiful yet beneath it was strength and courage that even his own could not match, for she had braved her way to save him for far too many times. Yes he was saved, but after everything, was she? He knew that she had known he was there but he was hesitant to disturb her.

"How have you been?" she asked her voice so soft like chimes tinkering in the wind. How long has it been since he had last heard her?

He was still standing a few feet behind her. His throat dry and he soon found himself that he could not speak. He had practiced so many times, chose his words well so that when he could finally meet her, he could tell her how he felt. But now that he was next to her, he seemed at a loss for words.

She was still silent, waiting patiently knowing that he would be displeased if he was hurried. Again, a wave of sadness coursed through him. He had regretted everything and wondered if he had been too late, if everything was too late. He decided to finally speak.

"I'm well. And you?" he asked.

"Fine. Just as you are". Then she turned her head to look at him. Her eyes the clearest green he had ever seen. It was like looking into the clearest ocean with nothing to obscure it, not even turbid.

"Hello, Sasuke. It's been a while", she said smiling softly acknowledging his presence. It was a smile so different from the ones that he usually saw when they were young. But this was sad and yet disarming at the same time. He finally took a step and sat beside her.

"Sakura, I…I've been wanting to speak to you. But now…" he sighed not knowing where to begin. When he heard her speak his name, it was detached. He had longed for her to call him the way she used to but, what did he expect? Times change, and people do.

When I find myself watching the time pass by

I never think about all the things you said

Now I feel like its dead

Where is it leading me?

"I can see that you have difficulty in doing so", came Sakura's voice still soft like silk and he watched her as she looked at the children and their friends who had respectfully moved to a different spot farther from them to give them the privacy that they needed.

He could see the longing in her eyes even by the way she looked at them, there was fondness and acceptance at the same time. Years had been kind to her, and he was glad for that. He'd be happy to give her what she wanted and what he wanted for so long that he had at one time foolishly failed to comprehend.

"But Sasuke, what is your heart telling you to do or to say?" she asked while looking at him again pensively tileint her head to the side so that she could look at him better.

"I want…I want to ask for your forgiveness", he said looking down not being able look in her eyes. It was what he had always been afraid of.

"So much has happened, don't you think so? I have forgiven you, Sasuke. It was something that none of us could have stopped", she said as she gently touched his cheek her soft fingers warming him. His throat contorted as he swallowed with difficulty. He could feel his eyes burning.

"I have hurt you so much Sakura. Pushed you away when all you wanted was to love me, care for me…be with me", he said finding it hard to spill his soul but needing to do so. When he felt her touching him, he looked at her and he clearly saw her sadness not just in her tiny smiles but in her eyes now lingering softly…tugging at his heart painfully.

"If it makes you feel better, I'm truly glad that you have finally realized my intentions. I'm sorry too that it took me a while to understand you", she said as she slowly withdrew her hand but Sasuke took hold of it. He felt cold when she was not touching him. Her warmth was something that he had craved for so long, her smiles even the bashings that she would sometimes give Naruto.

I turn around in the still of the room

Knowing that you will always be there

But I can't wait any longer

And I'm feeling even stronger

"Sakura…" he knew that what he felt was mirrored in his eyes now but he did not care.

He did not want to hide anymore. He wanted to be free from it, to bathe in her warmth and to rejoice for finding this woman who had always been there for him, who saw him for who he was even when he was at his worst; who offered him love when he needed it the most and who needed him simply for being him.

"I know that I don't deserve this or even you. It was one of the reasons why it took me such a long time to face you and I don't blame you if you hate me. I guess I was confused and scared. I was scared that if I love you, I would find myself wandering again and leave you…hurt you again…I do not wish for you to cry but…" he could not go on anymore.

The emotions pouring from him was just too strong. He could not handle it anymore. And so he gave in to it. He wrapped his arms around her, feeling her warmth and reveling in it. It felt so wonderful and so right, to just hold her and find her here, in his arms; just where she should belong from the start.

He holds me close like a thief of the heart

He plays a melody

Born to tear me all apart

The silence is broken

And no words are spoken but…

"I love you, Sakura. I always have but I was just too blinded and selfish. I did not think of how you felt. And when I realized that I was starting to be just like the person that I despised the most, I began to understand everything. I love you and…and….I will love you forever".

"Thank you, Sasuke-kun", came her soft and broken reply.

Sasuke was not sure what she meant. Was she thanking him that he loved her? Was she thanking him that he had finally come to his senses? What did she actually mean? He slowly unwrapped his arms from her and looked at her eyes. Clear emerald eyes that twinkled like the gems stared back at him swimming within silvery pools of unshed tears.

Confusion marred his handsome familiar face his black onyx eyes probing at her piercingly uncertain and scared. But her heart was bleeding and broken. He could not undo the past nor could he change her future. She had worked so hard to mend herself back to the way it should be. He was gone for so long, so many years and she knew that there will be a time when he would come knocking at her door. But by then, everything will be late. Too late…

Cannot touch, cannot hold

We cannot be together

Cannot love, cannot kiss

We cannot have each other

"You have to understand. You weren't there when I needed you the most. I have been through hard times just as you and although I have mended myself, I could not bear to relive it again. I have to let go", her words were like sledge hammers hitting him, breaking him.

Part of him knew that this was going to happen but he did not really expect that it would hurt so much. But he knew that she did not mean to hurt him. He knew that for it was never her nature to do so.

She reached out with one hand and held the side of his face lovingly stroking his jaw, his cheeks while he watched her tears slowly gliding down from her beautiful eyes. He closed his eyes suddenly unable to see her pain, her unhappiness that he had placed upon her.

Maybe he deserved this, he deserved it. But it hurt too much…Maybe; this was what she felt when he hurt her too? But he knew that what he felt right now was incomparable to what she felt before. He had a moment to feel it but she had years to suffer.

"I'm sorry, Sasuke-kun. But right now, I need this. Maybe we were never meant to love each other. Maybe, it was just never meant to be in the first place. And I have accepted that. This is what I choose…for now".

Her words felt like knives cutting him deeply echoing in his mind. He saw her leaning over him and brushed her lips to his own. It was so soft, like butterfly kisses he had always dreamed of, and much more. It was sweet and yet so heartbreaking. It was through her kiss that he felt her poignant emotions. And finally, he cannot hold on to it any longer. His tears started to seep away from his eyes to graze his cheeks.

Cannot dream, cannot feel how we feel

Cannot share sweet and tender moments

Must be brave and we must go on

Must not say what we've known all along

It had been a long time since he had cried. He cried when his parents died, he cried when he thought he almost killed his bestfriend and now, he cried for her suffering. And finally he understood what she meant. His journey had ended, but hers had just begun.

"Wherever you will be, know that I will always be here for you, koishii. No matter what happens, I will always follow you…and wait for you", he said while holding her nape with his hand so that he could rest his forehead on hers while with his other hand he held her free ones and entwined it with his own.

"You do not need to do that for my sake. You have been through much and I do not wish to burden you. Live your life like you should have, stop running away from it but rather glorify in it", hearing her words, he could not hold back a melancholic smile because even at this moment, she still thought of his well-being like she always does. Who could not love a girl such as Sakura?

How can I not love you?

What do I tell my heart?

When do I not want you here in my arms?

How does one waltz away from all of the memories?

How can I not miss you when you are gone?

"I don't care. I'll wait for you because I have always dreamed that someday, I could hold you in my arms and live with you forever. Someday, I will sleep at night knowing that when I wake up you will always be there to smile at me and love me here in my arms. I love you, Sakura. Forever".

Upon hearing his words, Sakura could not help if she could not speak. Even when she told him that she could not give in to what he wanted, he still offered it to her. And that he would wait for her and follow her wherever her road will lead her. That whatever will happen all she has to do is to look behind her and he will be there to catch her and lend her his strength whenever she needed it.

"Will you truly wait for me?" she asked hesitantly.

"Yes I will", he answered with fierce determination as he slowly ran his thumb on her kissed swollen lips. Three words, so sweet and full of promise and hope.

A smile touched her face one that was full of love and happiness. No longer was the woman under the cherry tree alone. She had him all along. They sat there for a longer time her head resting on his shoulder while his arm wrapped around her securely with his hand idly and lovingly caressed her arm contented in watching everything around them. The winds blew its praise and the sun shined its glorious rays on them as if silently bestowing them a promise of what their future could bring and might hold.

And as the last petal of the cherry tree fell, the joy in the hearts of their friends and loved ones who had watched them could not be contained. Finally, there was hope and peace for all of them.

And on that day, two hearts had finally found each other. Love has no boundaries...love has its own reasons...love is forgiving.

The characters may appear OC this is because; the setting is years after the battle when they had grown older and had their own families. Please do post a review and tell me what you think about the story. I was actually thinking of making this an epilogue of a story that I'm thinking about I would like to hear some of your ideas if it would be advisable to do so or what. Also I would appreciate it if you could somehow at least tell me whether this story is to your liking or not and please don't fail to point out which part of the story it was flawed or needed to be edited. Please do so I would really appreciate it. Please? Its so little to ask for anyway.