i'm pretty sure i was here in a dream once

and oh, sing songs to the heroes of old (remember that myths were once bodies)

She stands sentinel at the memorial stone during the night: a dark pillar holding up the sky. They call her the Widow.

(She never wanted to be Hokage. It was never her dream.

But, well.

Kakashi-sensei never taught her any ninjutsu, but he taught her that the mission was not the most important part of being ninja, that you choose your teammates over anything else every time, that you honour their dreams even when they’re dead, that you live on despite the loss—a cursed half life—and you hate yourself for it. (He never was a very good teacher.))

The bingo books, the old editions, have her hair colour listed as pink. The Academy students are skeptical. No one has pink hair. Maybe she used to dye it?

(It’s the healing that takes the colour from her.

She drains herself dry of chakra trying to heal the hole punched through Sai’s sternum, and then pushes further, pulling on her life force. Ino and Shikamaru pull her away from the corpse, and she doesn’t even have the energy to cry. Her body never fully recovers. Her heart doesn’t even try; the last of her boys are dead.

Her hair is bleached bone white. Her eyes fade to milky blue.)

They were supposed to be the second coming of the Sannin. They were supposed to surpass their teachers and change the world.

Instead, Sasuke is ashes on the wind, a procession of graves and a story of shattered hearts.

Instead, Naruto is a statue in a square. The artist carved him solemn. No one can remember the sound of his laughter.

Instead, Sakura is a faded pillar holding up too many legacies, holding up a village, holding up the sky.

They call her the Widow.

(She never thought it would end this way.)

(There is no other way it could have.)