A/N: I think I made quite a few people cry with the last chapter… so here a happier chapter before all the drama again.
Honestly I have thought of ways not to kill off Kushina and Minato because they are both such beautiful people, but I don't know how to go about it without altering the entire timeline. Their deaths set in motion so many things which are important for the development of Naruto as a character. And not only little Naruto but Kakashi, Itachi and later Sasuke and everyone – even how Sakura was brought up changed with their deaths.
It's unfair, I wanted Iruka to meet Rose as well in the Academy but he's already ten when she enters…
I already changed quite a few things by just letting Rose be herself running around Konoha and this will become worse when little Naruto comes into the picture as well. Shouldn't say too much on the subject… :P
Hello World! Sakura here…
Kushina looked really pretty. She was wearing one of those tight fitting robes called Kimono. They were white with a bird printed on them. There was a swirly print on her obi and a crown of flowers in her hair. The Kunoichi was as graceful as always, walking beside her future husband on high geta and a peaceful look on her face. Rose kept stealing glances over her shoulder from where she was walking. Kakashi and Gai were walking behind her, but if she looked back at the right moment she could see in between the two boys.
Fresh snow crunching underneath her feet, the soft pecking against a traditional koto, and the sun shining down making the flower petals Rose was decorating the snowy path with change colours. It was like a fairy tale parade and Rose was at the head of it. That thought filled her with a flutter of nervous excitement. She had to do this right, for both Kushina-sensei and Minato-san. With that in mind Rose put all her heart into being the best flower girl she could be.
If the flowers seemed to sparkle around the parade no one commented on it. They would simply think it the sun reflecting on the snow even when Itachi caught one of the sparkling flower petals and noticed it had nothing to do with the sun at all. Of course only a small gathering of close friends witnessed the wedding that day because if word got out that Uzumaki Kushina was married to the famous Yellow Flash, Hero of the War and Fourth Hokage of Konoha… well any failed kidnappings which had happened in the past would seem child's play. Rose thought it strange since Kushina and Minato had been living together for a while now but also kind of exciting that it was all a secret. It was something she wouldn't tell to anyone even if they begged her for the details.
So she would keep the details of the wedding to herself, bully Itachi into play acting some scenes because otherwise he would do nothing but training. Mikoto didn't mind but told Rose that she should let Itachi train as well because he wanted to be a Shinobi and had the talent to make a great one.
"But why do you want to be a great Shinobi?" Rose had asked on one of her visits as she watched Itachi try to hit all the marks. She had been allowed to look in on his training as long as she didn't disturb Itachi too much. Fukagu could be a very frightening man even if he was a friend of Minato's.
Itachi stopped and turned to look at her fully, his dark eyes shining with something she couldn't yet identify. "Mum's having another child," he confessed suddenly. "I want to be a good brother, a better friend and to be able to protect my family. That's why I want to be a great Shinobi, not just a good one."
Rose hummed thoughtfully and gestured for the boy to come a little closer. He had looked at her quizzically but obliged nonetheless. They locked eyes for a moment and for a long time the two friends just stared at one another until Rose smiled briefly and poked Itachi right on the forehead, giving him a small zap by accident.
"What was that for?" Itachi cried out after being stunned for a moment, rubbing against the spot Rose had poked at.
"As long as that is empty you will never be a good Shinobi," she stated proudly thinking of how Kushina and Minato had those shiny metal headbands that showed how awesome they were.
It had been two weeks since Rose had poked Itachi on the forehead and the boy in return had claimed that she just had to wait because he was going to show her that he could be a great Shinobi. The wedding had been a sort of reunion for the two friends who had been spending the past two weeks either training or learning their lessons. Rose had been focusing on her Kanji and history again, tentatively looking at Seals she had learned in the past because she was still interested even if it had been the cause of some nightmares. Kushina was as patient a teacher as she had ever been, taking the little raven haired girl under her wing as much as Mebuki allowed it.
"Thank you for coming, Kizashi-san, Mebuki-san," Minato greeted the pair with his characteristic bright smile, looking even more radiant as he stood beside his new wife. Rose was standing silently in between the two couples, not really close to either her aunt or Kushina.
Itachi was standing on the other side of the clearing trying to catch her eye, waving and gesturing without catching the attention of the others. Only Kakashi seemed to notice but Rose was still hesitant to approach the older boy, unsure if he was still mad at her, so she kept her distance for now. With a quick glance at both couples the former redhead made her way to Itachi. With a smile Rose poked at his forehead as a greeting and watched him sigh in irritation.
"Are you going to do that every time we meet?" Itachi asked as he rubbed at the affronted spot.
Rose shrugged her shoulders. "Maybe."
He seemed annoyed, but it wasn't the same annoyance Kakashi had showed her that day. This was soft, with a smile and his warm hand still looked for her hand, dragging her off inside the temple. It was a nice space, airy and filled with so much energy that Rose had to take a few steady breaths to settle her racing heart. It was like everywhere she looked, every move she made, someone was there to move with her. It brushed against her skin and patted her hair, tugged at her clothes and made her breathe that much easier. Whatever it was made the energies inside of her stir and bubble up in excitement. It tickled her senses in such a way that she couldn't help the laughter slipping out.
"Are you okay?" Itachi asked, looking at her a little wearily.
Rose nodded almost frantically, her eyes gleaming at the energy circling around her. "Can you feel that? Isn't it amazing? It's like everyone is here, singing and dancing and having so much fun. Their warmth feels so good!"
They had been here before, the point where Itachi could only guess at what Rose was feeling. This time, after staring at her for a while, he closed his eyes and Rose watched as Itachi centred himself. He was humming softly as if he was thinking and he remained standing there, in the middle of the room, with his eyes closed. After a while Rose was sure the other had fallen asleep. Itachi twitched when Rose continued to stare at her friend with such intensity it made him a little flustered. "Staring is rude," Itachi muttered when she wouldn't take her eyes off of him.
Itachi looked at her with flat dark brown eyes. "With you staring at me I can't focus."
"But why do you need to focus?"
"If I don't focus I can't feel what you feel."
Rose was silent for a moment, not really sure about what Itachi needed to focus on. Finally she stepped forward and took his hand. With a wink she closed her eyes as well, finding the energy circling the room and guiding it towards Itachi. His breathing hitched when his chakra clashed with the foreign energy guided by the energy of his friend. Rose squeezed his hand when she could feel that he was getting afraid.
"This is me," she said, trying to make Itachi forget his fear. "This is the sun. These are the flowers underneath the snow. This is what the snow is like. And the trees. The wood is…"
…January to March…
Rose hadn't spoken to Kakashi for months now even if she saw him sometimes when she would visit Minato in his office. Sometimes she wanted to start talking to him again and play with him like in the old days, but he was always busy and silent with a cold look in his eyes. At least Gai was playing hide and seek with her sometimes and Itachi would always spend time with her. Kushina remained a great teacher and since Rose was going to start school in April the redhead started teaching her more. Since Mebuki was now busy with plans for handing over temporary management of the position she held within the council and focused on her upcoming due date. With every date gone by the more the nerves build up inside of her.
There were harsh words almost daily now, directed at everyone and anyone who dared say a word edgewise. It was the famous Evans temper rearing its ugly head and it drove most people away from her. Mebuki resembled Petunia in that way, Rose decided. While Petunia had never been pregnant while Rose was there, the woman did have a temper that came out whenever she was alone. It was why the raven haired girl took to sleeping at Ayame when Kizashi muttered to Teuchi about all the fighting.
It was like one big party every night even when they had to help out sorting out and cutting up the vegetables. Rose learned a great deal from Teuchi about food, spices and cooking. Mostly she learned about how to create the perfect broth and how vegetables and meats can bring out the most subtle flavours. She enjoyed learning from him as much as she loved learning from Kushina. Teuchi promised her that Rose could always come back whenever she wanted to learn more from him. Rose was still very young of course and could not do a lot to help, but after such a promise from the best Ramen maker in Konoha – perhaps in all of the Fire Country – she couldn't help but be more driven.
Between learning from Teuchi and Kushina, staying with Ayame and generally making a nuisance of herself whenever she visited Itachi the months seemed to fly by. School was something Rose was starting to dread as much as look forward too. And it was after the parent-teacher talks for new students that everything seemed to slot into place. A peace returned to the Haruno residence at the prospect of Rose going to school and they sat together as a family after three months of being apart. Rose was allowed to sit with Kizashi, to listen to his stories again even if she heard them a hundred times before and Mebuki was happy to see them as a family again.
Of course this also happened to be the night her water broke.
Rose was horrified, to see her Aunt break down in cries of agony just as they were together again. Was it her fault that she had wanted to be with them again? Was it because of her that her Aunt was dying?
"The Healers will be here soon, Mebuki darling, and they will take you to the hospital," Kizashi spoke softly to his wife who was lying on the couch like the world was ending. "I will follow with your things and Rose, so do not worry."
"That is not helping me now Kizashi!" Mebuki gritted out. She cried out in pain again when the Healers finally arrived. In a flurry of activity they spirited Mebuki away and – pale as a ghost – Kizashi started packing an overnight bag. All the while Rose stood in stunned silence watching all the adults with wide, fearful eyes. The Healers, those people in white who had once looked after her, now took her Aunt away and Uncle Kizashi let it all happen.
He just let it all happen!
"Rose," Kizashi called before spotting her standing in the hallway. He gave her a weak smile before crouching down in front of her. "Rose we have to get to the hospital."
"Why did you let them take her away?" Rose cried out, tears stinging in her eyes as she looked at her Uncle. "Why was Auntie Mary in pain when they took her away?"
Kizashi looked at her angry eyes and gave her a weak smile. "Oh Rose, come here." But she stubbornly stood her ground earning a sigh. "You remember what we said about the baby growing in Mebuki's belly? It's about to be born now, it can't stay in there forever after all."
"But why did it hurt so much?" Rose asked.
Kizashi looked away, his shoulders tense and his lips pressed together. It was an expression Rose had seen on Kakashi once when he hadn't wanted to reveal something personal to her. The look startled Rose and made her insecure. She didn't want to push her Uncle away like she had done with Kakashi. Hoping that he wouldn't push her away the raven haired child took her Uncle's larger hand. "I think Aunty will be worried if we wait to long."
"Quite right," Kizashi said, letting out a deep breath before scooping the child onto his one arm so he could carry the bags with the other.
It was funny how Uncle Kizashi was seemingly able to move as fast as one of the Shinobi or it was because her heart was beating so fast it seemed to jump out of her chest. When they arrived not a lot of time had passed and the two were ushered through the hospital towards the delivery rooms. It was here they were being made to wait outside. A nurse told them a doctor would see them soon. Meanwhile she placed a pot of steaming tea in front of Kizashi and a container of juice for Rose before leaving them to wait, telling them she was only down the hall should they need anything.
Whenever Rose looked back to the wait at the hospital, she found that she couldn't really remember it. Maybe it was because nothing remarkable really happened while they waited. By the time the first hour had passed, Rose was already sleeping peacefully. That was probably why she could not really remember the event. Midnight snacks and drinks, the walking – or pacing – back and forth down the hallway or the nervous glances in books that didn't really do anything for the mind. Not even when there was a strangled cry that came through the open door when it was opened briefly by a nurse.
Only when Kizashi shook her awake quite gently did she open her eyes again. Rose blinked up at him, confused by his beaming smile until she remembered where she was. "Do you want to meet your new baby sister?" Kizashi asked.
Of course, like any child, Rose thought that there must have been a mistake when she gazed down on the baby being held in Mbeki's arms. Its little face was red and had no teeth. Not even a single hair was present making the face look long, almost horse shaped. It was tiny and when the baby finally opened its eyes which were a watered down green it started to cry almost immediately.
"It seems she's hungry already," Mebuki said with a weak chuckle and to Rose's horrified fascination her Aunt opened up her hospital gown and promptly shoved her tit in the tiny baby's face.
"Doesn't it need food if it's hungry?" Rose asked as she crawled onto Mebuki's bed.
Mebuki smiled gently down at her two children. "A baby needs to eat like everyone, but it doesn't have any teeth yet to chew her food. That's why they need the milk a mum can give them so they can grow to become big and strong. We've all done the same thing."
"Even Minato-sama," Mebuki replied with a wink and Rose goggled at her, not able to imagine the older man being ever so small. As it was still early in the morning everyone was tired and Rose didn't mind being tucked against her Aunt's side where she could doze lightly listening to Mebuki's steady heartbeat.
"What is her name?" she mumbled sleepily, sneaking another peak at the baby that was now sleeping peacefully in her Aunt's arms.
"Sakura," came the whispered reply and with a smile at tradition Rose fell asleep knowing that she had another thing to protect.
Life changed now that young Sakura had been born. The Haruno household seemed to come to life with the mere presence of the baby and Rose could often be seen telling her younger sibling stories much like she did with Itachi. She even got the Uchiha to accompany her in looking after Sakura. Itachi helped her to integrate into school life. After hanging around Kakashi and the other Ninja Rose had become used to the energy they held and the chaos that often followed in their wake. Rose was very much a pacifist; the horrors she had already witnessed making her crave for peaceful days. She had no desire to learn how to fight but exercise was something the Academy stimulated even in the civilian lessons and so she learned how to stretch and build up her stamina through games.
She soon became friends with a few girls but they seemed to think becoming the wife of a Ninja was the way to go. It was why she didn't mind sitting next to they in lessons and sharing lunch with them but when it was time to go home, Rose couldn't bring herself to invite them to play. Rose sometimes snuck in on Itachi's free time to see how he was doing. As he was a little older he was already in the Ninja part of the Academy but even he didn't seem to be enjoying himself all that much. They often walked home together to discuss something Rose had learned in her lessons. Things she didn't understand or that she wanted to know more about. As Ayame was a year older and much like Itachi she too was in a year above Rose and in the civilian part of the Academy. This made it a little easier to approach Ayame about lessons taught in the civilian only part but it was refreshing to hear the two sides of the Academy being discussed.
It wouldn't be a few years yet before Rose would realise just how much she appreciated having two views among her friends and it would help her grow in her understanding of human nature. The strength and weakness in both sides was what would become her driving force as she lived her life to make the world a better place.
Of course with the coming of Sakura her view of the world changed as well. She was now an older sister and would dedicate her life to making sure that the things that had happened to her would never happen to Sakura. So she dragged the baby to meet just about everyone Rose had ever met and promised herself that she would teach the young girl all about the world and its horrors and beauties when Sakura became old enough.
Rose also found the time to visit little Tenten and Neji, although the latter was very hard to visit because the Hyuuga clan were very strict. She still tried and her reward was a few precious minutes every week that brought smiles to the toddlers and in turn their parents.
Kushina also visited the Haruno household every so often to continue her lessons on Seals with Rose and made funny faces whenever she spotted Sakura, making the baby giggle at the redhead. Mebuki admitted to having grown fond of both Kushina and Minato even if she remained a little distant and respectful to both. She still firmly believed that she could protect both her daughters by not letting them join the Ninja part of the Academy and so Minato stopped asking but did insist on having Rose follow exercises designed to regulate the flow of her energies. It was one of the reasons she was allowed in the Hyuuga compound to begin with. After negotiations between the head of the Hyuuga clan and Minato, Rose was monitored once a week to see how the exercise affected the energies inside of her. She didn't mind the staring so much since Neji was allowed to toddle around the room while his father monitored her. After that she was allowed to play with the toddler for a while.
The birth of Sakura signalled a string of pregnancies that had Rose horrified. She now knew why it hurt so much to give birth and had warned Mikoto and Kushina by telling them the horror story of Sakura's birth. Mikoto had simply laughed and told her about Itachi's birth much to Itachi's horror. Kushina had looked unfazed by it all but was often found discussing softly with Mikoto that Rose was sure must have something to do with having a baby. The raven haired child found it all very exciting, claiming she was getting another brother or sister from both Mikoto and Kushina and she couldn't wait for them to meet Sakura.
Little Sakura was growing of course and by the time Mikoto was due to give birth she had grown soft pink hairs and was rolling all over the place. Rose marvelled at how fast such a tiny baby could grow and continued to take the baby everywhere with her. Ayame was just as enthralled with the baby and stated that she would have at least two when she was old enough.
"Which means you won't have any until you're at least fifty," Teuchi said sharply earning a sharp laugh from Minato who had a rare moment off to enjoy his favourite treat. Kushina was giggling next to him, a steady hand on her growing belly as she continued to shovel food into her mouth. With her pregnancy her Ramen addiction had become even worse and Teuchi often joked that the child would probably eat Ramen every day of the week the moment it was born.
"Then I will make sure my little brother or sister will eat enough vegetables and fruit with it," Rose stated as she tried to feed a fishcake to Sakura. "And it needs to drink lots of milk for it to grow strong too."
The adults present chuckled at her serious tone and a warm hand rested on top of her head. She looked up to stare at Minato's deep blue eyes. "I'm sure the world will be well taken care of with you around, Rose-chan."
Sasuke's birth happened just before Rose's own birthday and she couldn't help but be overjoyed with the prospect of having another soul under her care. The new born Sasuke was quickly introduced to Sakura and while he was a bit young to attend Rose's birthday party, Itachi did give her a picture for her album that showed the two Uchiha boys sprawled on the floor while Mikoto was sitting with them and Fugaku was keeping watch in the background.
Gai send his best wishes as he was busy with missions and couldn't make it but he had promised to meet with her the moment he returned. His promise filled the void left behind by Rin – who was no longer there – and Kakashi who was still refusing to speak with her.
The man named Jiraiya visited her again, this time bringing a gift in the form of a book. Kizashi was against it at first because the man knew the Sannin's infamous books but Jiraiya promised that this was something he had written that not a lot of people knew about. Minato reassured Kizashi as he had read the book himself and it was a very admirable story. It was only than that Kizashi let Rose have the book and with her curiosity peaked told herself that she would read it the moment her party was over. Itachi had eyed the book with interest as well and after a moment she promised that he could read it too when she was finished with it.
There was no competition this time or Rin who braided her hair with flowers. Still the sun shone as brightly as it had done before and the people smiled as they wished her happy birthday. Every present she received made her feel loved and between Ayame and Itachi she felt content that this birthday was as much fun as the last one.
Still she couldn't help but feel a little sad as she went to bed that night knowing that Kakashi would still be angry with her the next day and Rin still gone from their lives. Rose was excited at being five years old – finally – and knowing that between school, her friend, Sakura and Sasuke her life would be filled with laughter every day. No longer did the nightmares of what happened a year ago frighten her, so why? Why was Kakashi still angry with her? Why couldn't his nightmares stop too so he could return to being his sweet, saving self?
When Rose entered her room, she was surprised when her window let through the warm summer breeze. She was sure Mebuki had closed it. It was with the setting sun shining through that she noticed a strange glinting shape on her nightstand. Curious about what it could be, Rose inspected the shape in the light and noticed a bright green leaf that could only be found in Konoha trapped within the glass shaped like a dog. The glass was still warm as if it had been shaped recently and Rose could feel the chakra inside of it.
She recognised the birthday gift as she had received something similar last year from the same person. Feeling the stress that had possessed her the entire day finally dissipating with the gift, Rose picked up the dog statue and placed it with the glass sphere she had received the year before.
"Thank you 'Kashi-kun!" she cried out to the world outside before closing the window with a smile.