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A Crown of Peonies and Primrose

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There was nothing about Konoha as a village specifically that had inspired Sasuke to return.  He didn’t particularly like people.  And Konoha was fairly populated when it came to cities.  It was perhaps the biggest of the hidden villages.  Packed to the brim with civilians and ninja alike.

It was always busy. There were people everywhere.  In the streets, judging, staring, shouting.  And despite the sheer number of them, the community somehow remained close knit, in the way the residents in a small town knew everyone and everything that was going on.  They gossiped, spread rumours.  And on Sasuke’s first days back, some three years ago now, it had been absolute torture for him listening to those voices whispering in every corner.  It felt like his skin was crawling at all moments, the way he knew they were talking about him, about his clan, speculating about everything that had happened and whether or not any of it was actually true. 

Not that it was any of their business.

And yet, Sasuke actually preferred the rumour mongers to those who pitied him.  He absolutely despised the sorrowful looks that sometimes followed him through the streets.  The sad smiles on merchants’ faces as they handed him his bags and change.  He didn’t need their pity.  After all, none of it came when it actually mattered, as Konoha disrespected his clan and pushed them to the outskirts of the village.  Or as they were slaughtered in their own homes at the bequest of the council.

Sasuke wasn’t sure he would have even called Konoha home when he first returned.  He certainly didn’t miss the Uchiha compound, with its blood stains, ghosts, and haunted memories that did nothing but keep Sasuke awake at night wishing he had been born in another time, in another place altogether.

Perhaps it was the fact that it really was his only option in regards to becoming a legitimate shinobi that encouraged him to come back.  He couldn’t exactly rise in the ranks to Jounin in any other hidden village.  And while money could be found for missing-nin, if they knew where to look, those clients also weren’t the sort Sasuke had any desire to work for.  And the missions they needed filled weren’t of much interest to him either. 

Sasuke also could have argued it was duty that made him return to the village.  The promise to revive his clan one day, to respect his brother’s dying words.  Or perhaps the memory of his mother and father in those days prior to their deaths.    

He knew better than that though. 

It was actually the memory of something else entirely.  And in retrospect, he should have made the connection ages ago, named it for what it was instead of pushing it to the side like a coward.  This…feeling he had, deep in his chest.  An ache that swelled into something strange and warm whenever he thought of him.

His laugh, boisterous and loud, filled with joy.  His seemingly carefree attitude masking the same feelings of loss and loneliness that Sasuke wore on his sleeve. His golden blond hair, like a halo that framed an angelic face, one that nearly always sported a smile bright as can be.

He was drawn like a moth to a flame.

Sasuke had always been fonder of the night.  The darkness was far less harsh on his eyes, and it was easier to hide beneath the cover of shadows. It made sense for a shinobi to find strength after sunset, to thrive in a time when it was easier to kill.  He liked the quiet that came with evening, the subtle silence one could find in nature, standing before a lake beneath the stars with nothing but the sound of crashing waves to interrupt his thoughts.

And yet for some reason, he couldn’t stop staring into the sun.