She didn’t have the space in her time table for another course. In order to become a Healer she didn’t need to take Care of Magical Creatures.
But here she was offering milk to a bowtruckle during one of her free periods.
“You should be taking this time to do work for courses you’re enrolled in, Haruno.”
“I can’t leave Honeysuckle to you Professor,” Sakura teased. “He needs me.”
“You spoil him,” Professor Uchiha muttered, reaching for the bowtruckle. Honeysuckle raised its claws at him and whined before scampering to hide in Sakura’s long pink hair.
Sakura giggled, Honeysuckle’s leaf antennas tickling her neck. At first she was insulted that the little thing had confused her with a tree but the bowtruckle was awfully sweet.
And it gave her an excuse to see Professor Uchiha more often.
When the headmistress, Tsunade Senju, announced that Sasuke Uchiha would be taking up the post of Care of Magical Creatures professor after the former professor retired it had caused quite the scandal.
Sasuke Uchiha had always had top marks and seemed to be on the path to becoming an auror but after graduation he had vanished only to be found months later taking care of dragons and then moving on to other projects.
It was disappointing to the general populace of Hogwarts━both the students and faculty alike━that such a promising student had returned to his alma mater to teach an elective course. They were completely blindsided.
All except for one seventh year student.
Sakura remembered Sasuke Uchiha as more than just the top mark Head Boy.
She had met him when she was just a first year, trying to send an owl to her muggle parents about how she was sorted into Ravenclaw and how the first week had gone.
There was a fifth year Slytherin student tending to an owl with a damaged wing. She had stammered her reasoning for being there and he had just pressed a single finger to his lips asking for silence. He gestured to the injured bird and shushed her.
Silently as she could, avoiding the owl droppings that littered the floor, Sakura made her way over to him and the owl.
“Will it be okay?” She whispered.
“She’ll be fine,” he assured her with a soft a voice. “She likes the top of her head to be stroked.”
Taking the suggestion, Sakura carefully stroked the owl with her index finger. The owl cooed and shut her eyes.
Sakura’s brows furrowed. Why would he go out of his way to care for an owl that wasn’t his own?
Sakura saw Sasuke Uchiha often after that.
He was always with three friends, two fellow Slytherins and one extremely tall Hufflepuff rumored to be half giant. His two Slytherin friends were loud and drew attention with their noise but it was the quiet Sasuke that everyone sought out.
A couple of younger students had tried to give him sweets from home and he turned them down.
“He hates candy,” his redheaded friend had whispered in passing. She had caught her eye when Sakura peered over one of her school books.
Sakura’s face flushed, embarrassed to have been caught staring.
“What are you doing messing with a first year, Karin?” The white haired boy asked.
“I’m not messing with her!” She snapped at him, face turning almost as red as her hair. “I just thought she was kind of cute. Lay off Suigetsu!”
Sasuke had turned his head to see what they were causing a commotion over. He stared at Sakura impassively and Sakura swallowed, not sure what to make of his staring.
A small pink ball of fluff poked out from his collar and he patted it back down. Sakura’s jaw dropped at the random appearance of a pygmy puff.
Sasuke just lifted his finger to his lips and gestured for her to stay silent on the matter.
“Still chasing after Uchiha?”
Sakura blinked in confusion at her best friend Ino. She had been minding her own business, studying in the common room when the blonde girl flounced over to her.
“He’s a professor, Ino!” Sakura hissed, looking around the common room. No one seemed to pay any mind, already used to the way the Head Girl and her best friend behaved when they were together.
“Doesn’t change the fact that he’s Sasuke Uchiha and you’re Sakura Haruno the girl that has had a crush on him since she was eleven.”
Ino collapsed sideways so that she was sitting on Sakura’s lap with her legs thrown over one of the arms of the plush armchair Sakura was sitting in to get her reading done.
“And him coming back hasn’t helped a single bit.”
“He’s a professor,” Sakura reminded her, making sure her voice didn’t waver. “And I’m a student. That’s all.”
Sakura bowed low, waiting for a response. The tawny hippogriff before her bowed back and she ran up and stroked it’s face near its beak.
“Hello Garuda,” she chirped. Garuda nuzzled her face the way she often saw him nuzzle Professor Uchiha’s hand.
Garuda was Professor Uchiha’s hippogriff, one that he had found injured in the wild and nursed back to health. Garuda had grown attached to him and refused to be left behind on the reserve Professor Uchiha had been working at.
“Are you going to spoil him too?”
Professor Uchiha stood in muggle clothing and a pair of galoshes at the other end of the paddock.
“Sometimes a little spoiling is needed,” Sakura grinned at him mischievously, “just to show how much you care.”
Professor Uchiha went quiet for a moment. Sakura’s grin slid from her face and she distracted herself with brushing Garuda’s fur.
Sakura reached for an apple to offer the hippogriff when a larger hand, slightly tanner than hers, wrapped it’s fingers around her wrist.
“Is that your way of asking to be spoiled?”
He was close enough for her to smell the scent of mint come off of his clothes and the smell of woodsmoke.
“I would never ask that of you,” Sakura swallowed, “Professor.”
Professor Uchiha dropped his hold of her wrist and took the apple from her hand.
“You should head back to the castle. It’s almost dinner time.”
Sakura marched back to the castle, only stopping once to look back when she reached the top of the hill. Stopping once to sneak another glance at him.
She hadn’t expected to catch Professor Uchiha staring in her direction.
He was too old for her. She knew that much.
Sakura scrunched up her nose and pulled out another book from the shelf. She wasn’t going to entertain any fantasies of a seventh year being interested in a third year but she had still wanted to give him something for Valentine’s Day. Which was why there was a barn owl with a brown paper package just for him━from her━at the Slytherin table at breakfast.
Her feelings didn’t need to reciprocated but it still hurt to know that he was on the trip to Hogsmeade on this holiday.
It only made her feel a little bit better that it was thundering and raining buckets. But it also made her feel guilty for wishing poor weather on celebrating couples.
She checked out her books and told herself that she didn’t need a date, that what she needed to focus on was her studies.
Sakura was on her way back to the Ravenclaw common room when someone called out to her.
It was rude and not even her name but it still made her heart race.
Sasuke was soaked to the bone, his usual feathery and disheveled hair laying flat from all of the rain. From under his cloak he pulled out a package from Honeydukes and handed it to her.
“Iced Mice?” Sakura’s brows pulled down in confusion. Then it dawned on her. “For the tomatoes?”
Sasuke’s lips twitched up at the corners. He just pressed his index finger to his lips and then turned and headed toward the dungeons.
“You have been avoiding me.”
Sakura never expected Professor Uchiha to be the confrontational type. She had expected that he would just forget about her if she stopped coming around to the paddock and creature shelter.
“Did you need something, Professor?”
She tried so hard to strengthen her resolve. Tried so hard to look at the smokey gray of his eyes and not feel the ache in her chest.
“Just came to do some spoiling,” he answered, in that same soft voice that she loved so much.
He handed her a book on herbalism, one having only been printed in its original Mandarin, the native tongue of Sakura’s family.
“I was supposed to give it to you on your birthday but you never came around.”
Seventeen. The age she was trying so hard to forget. The age that made her officially an adult.
The age that gave her hope.
“This must have been hard to find. I can’t accept━”
There was only the sound of cooing owls in the tower as Sasuke pressed his lips to hers in a chaste kiss. Sakura barely had time to respond before he was pulling away, pressing a finger to his lips and asking for silence.
It was just a scratch, one that Sasuke could easily patch up with a spell. He deserved the scratch for not respecting the bowtruckle’s boundaries and holding it too tight.
“Here we go,” the first year Ravenclaw chirped as she patched up his hand with a muggle contraption. “I’m kind of clumsy so I always carry around bandages. Better, huh?”
He knew she was muggleborn which was odd considering her coloring. He would have assumed she was a metamorphmagus with a fondness for the color pink. Did muggles give birth to metamorphmagus witches?
“Thank you,” he muttered finding it hard to explain how unnecessary the bandage was when she looked at him expectantly with vivid jade eyes.
“Um, I was wondering,” Sakura Haruno averted her gaze, wringing the front of her school robes with her hands, “do you mind pulling out that book for me? It’s kind of high up and I’m, well, short.”
Sasuke snorted and she pouted at him. Short was putting it mildly. The first years were always small but she seemed shorter than average.
He pulled down the book she was pointing at and held it above her head out of arm’s reach.
He shushed her with a finger to his lips.
“Quiet in the library,” he scolded her, pointing to his prefect’s badge.
Sakura clammed up but continued to glare at him. Done having his fun he handed her the heavy book she needed. Almost instantly the glare wiped away from her face and replaced with a wide smile.
“Thank you!” She chirped before skipping away.
What an interesting kid…
With a soft smile on his face he shook his head and looked for the book on creatures of the forests he was supposed to be looking for. His gaze dropped to the bandage on his hand and he chuckled to himself.
What a very interesting kid.