Sakura was quiet, but her mind was spinning.
Don't panic. He heard you complain about his absence. He heard you cry and sob. He heard you say that you… oh darn… that you love him. And he didn't make a sound the entire time.
So this is really the end…
Sakura's eyes became shallow and empty as she mentally steeled herself for his words, which would no doubt end their relationship forever. If he had been there the entire time and hadn't said anything, it meant…
Itachi didn't like her expression. She was shutting down her world from him, and he didn't want that.
"Sakura, look at me," he commanded.
Her head snapped up and her eyes were afire. "Don't you dare order me around, Uchi-"
She couldn't finish the sentence, because she was engulfed in a warm embrace and her lips were covered by incredibly tender ones. Itachi kissed her gently, slowly, lovingly. Nothing about his actions was about passion or lust.
After a while they broke apart, but Itachi didn't let her escape from his arms. They were sitting on the bed, and he pulled her into his lap.
"Now, my lovely Blossom," he said softly, "please let me talk to you again."
The young woman blushed a little. "Itachi, wait, if you've been here the whole time, why didn't you come out before? And why are you here in the first place? And why-"
The onyx-eyed man tenderly put a finger on her mouth to silence her. "I'd like to explain everything to you, Sakura."
Sakura, now quiet, stared at him carefully, and a bit apprehensively. After all, he was in their bed and was holding her in his arms; he wouldn't be doing it if he planned to dump her, right? So she decided to let him talk. She looked at him expectantly.
Itachi caressed her cheek softly. "One and a half year ago, Sakura, my little brother forced me to go with him to a party with his friends. I didn't want to go and was sure it would be boring, but Sasuke insisted. So I accepted and went. The party was organized by your friend Ino, with whom you were speaking a short while ago. I didn't have much to do, when suddenly I saw a beautiful young woman with incredible pink hair and extraordinary green eyes who was taking care of the child of Shizune, Ino's aunt. I was mesmerized by her. This woman was smiling nicely to the child and helping her with a game. Her eyes shone with tenderness and care, and I could tell she was compassionate and had a kind heart. And later that evening I saw that she could take care of herself, when she slapped my drunk cousin Shisui and gave him an earful when he tried to grope her. This woman was simply amazing. I inquired about her when talkingwith my brother and found out that her name – fitting, might I add – was Haruno Sakura, and she was one of the best medics in Konoha Hospital. She was a dear friend of my brother's. I asked to be introduced. My brother seemed surprised, but I didn't really care. I finally managed to convince him and I was able to meet this woman. She smiled at me when we were introduced, and I felt wonderful. I knew I wanted to get to know her better."
Itachi paused a moment and pulled Sakura closer to him, his eyes not leaving her for a second. "In the few following months, I spent all my free time with her, and I couldn't have been happier. She was clever, witty, generous and incredibly caring. I quickly realized that my life would never be complete without her. I needed her. I wanted her, but not," and his eyes flashed, "never, as a passing pleasure, but as mine forever. And one day, when she was stepping out of her car to jump into my arms, I realized why.
I had fallen in love with Haruno Sakura."
Sakura's eyes were wide, and she couldn't move. Itachi, however, continued, "When I realized this, I was scared at first." Sakura made a noise of bewilderment, but Itachi ignored it. "I had never been in love before. And I didn't know if those feelings were reciprocated. She had never said anything about her own feelings. Another few weeks passed, and one night, when we got home late after two days apart, we made love." Itachi's arms sneaked around her waist and held her firmly. "It was our first night together, and it was incredible. I knew she had been a virgin, she told me, but I didn't have the courage to tell her that it was my first time, too."
Sakura was about to exclaim something, but Itachi silenced her again. "Please, Sakura, let me finish. This isn't easy for me to admit." She remained quiet, but her eyes were still full of questions.
"I was so happy, Sakura, deliriously happy. Being with you… moving in with you… sharing my life with you… it was like I had been blessed with anything I could ever want. You seemed to be happy as well, even if you didn't share your feelings." Itachi's face became a little more serious. "But then winter came. We always have more work in winter at the police office, and we began to see less and less of each other. It hurt me, but I knew you had a lot of work, too. We became more and more distant. Then my father became ill."
Sakura's eyes widened, and she couldn't help but exclaim, "Itachi, your father…! But you never told me…"
He continued, "He's fine now, Sakura, don't worry. He had just a little illness, nothing serious, but I had to take his shifts at the Police Headquarters. That's why I was so tired the last few weeks. I'm sorry I didn't tell you, Sakura. I know it was stupid from me, but you seemed already too busy and I didn't think it was important. I had no idea," and his voice, quite surprisingly, seemed to tremble a little, "that you were so sad."
He looked at her earnestly. "I missed you too, Sakura. I missed you terribly. I am deeply sorry for putting you through all this, even if I was unaware of it. But let me put something straight."
He took her shoulders firmly and looked her in the eye, and he was deadly serious. "I love you, Sakura, with all my heart. I would like to share my whole life with you and never leave your side. I have requested shorter shifts from now on, and I will have more free time. I won't make the mistake of neglecting you ever again. And I must admit that some nights I didn't come home because I was gathering up the courage to ask you to marry me."
Sakura was beyond astonished. But she couldn't say anything, because he continued quickly, "I know I have done you wrong, Sakura. I know you think that there is nothing between us. If you really want to end our relationship, I will accept your decision. Or, better," he corrected with a tiny smile, "I would accept your decision only if I was completely sure that you don't want me in your life anymore. But if there's even a tiny possibility," and his arms were encircling her waist again, "of being with you, I will jump on it. I will not give up on you, Sakura, because I love you so damn much."
A long silence followed. Sakura stared at her, no, their bed and thought it all over. Itachi waited patiently.
He loved her. He loved her. He loved her. And he had asked her to marry him! He really loved her, then. But not everything was okay yet.
Sakura asked, "If you have been here for over an hour, why didn't you say anything?"
Itachi sighed. "I don't really know, Sakura. I didn't want to… intrude on your phone call, I suppose, but I didn't mean to eavesdrop just for the sake of it. I wanted to surprise you this evening, but when you came in you started crying and… well… I'm always afraid of doing something wrong when you cry," Itachi admitted.
Sakura smiled a little. So she had been wrong, it seemed. But still…
"Itachi," she said, a bit hesitantly, not looking at him, "I know you said you love me and I heard your marriage proposal. But what if you later find out I'm not the right person for you? What if you find a better woman than me? What if you get tired of me?"
"Sakura," he said firmly, "I love you and this isn't going to change. I could never get tired of you, on the contrary, I believe I can never get enough of you. And it's impossible to find a better woman than you, because for me, you are perfection."
Sakura blushed. Then she dared look up at him and smiled. "You already know I love you," she said, looking directly at him, "and I hope you know that, after we marry, I'm going to repeat it to no end."
Itachi tightened his hold on her and his eyes sparkled with hope. "Is it a yes then? Will you marry me?"
Sakura was about to scream 'yes' in her joy, but then her last secret came back to her mind. Her face instantly fell. Itachi didn't take that as a good sign, and his eyes grew worried.
"What's the matter, Sakura?" he quietly asked.
"Itachi, there is something I haven't told you," she said, her voice quivering once again. She didn't dare meet his eyes. "Something that might change your mind about marrying me and that I am really afraid of telling you."
Itachi recalled her saying something about it to Ino on the phone. "Whatever it is, Sakura," he said firmly, "my feelings for you won't change."
Sakura bit her lower lips in worry. One solitary tear ran down her cheek. Itachi caught it with his finger and brushed it away, caressing her skin. Sakura met his eyes, and saw his resolve and – more importantly – his love. She decided to tell him directly, while she had the courage.
"Itachi, I'm pregnant!" she blurted out, and fixed her eyes on his, determined to see his reaction.
Itachi's eyes widened, and then he immediately lowered them to her lap. He stared at her for a few seconds, and then looked back to her face.
And then something unexpected happened. Itachi's face bloomed into the most wonderful smile Sakura had ever seen. He had probably never smiled that brightly in his whole life. He embraced her tightly, but gently, now mindful of her condition. Still smiling that enchanting smile, he pulled her to him again and kissed her passionately on the lips. She returned the kiss, surprised but happy. He then released her and cupped her face.
"This is amazing, Sakura," he said, his voice deeper and warmer than usual, "I'm so happy. But are you happy, my Blossom?" he asked, concerned.
Sakura quickly nodded. "Of course I am! I always wanted children, it's just… I was afraid you wouldn't be happy… we never talked about it… and we also used protection most of the time, so I thought…"
"Sakura," he interrupted her, and surprised her with how tender and full of love his voice was. "When I said I wanted to marry you, I meant it. And that implies everything that comes with a marriage. I would love to start a family with you, my lovely, amazing Blossom, but only if you agree. If that's not what you want…"
"Of course it's what I want!" Sakura exclaimed, putting her arms around his neck and pulling him close. "And my answer to your question is yes. Yes, yes, YES!"
And she closed the distance between them by kissing him on the lips. That kiss was different from all the others, and they both felt it.
It sealed the promise of their lives together.
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