Naruto had her say it a second time at the start of chapter 469. Actually she said it more than twice in that encounter. (469-70)
No, I'm sure Naruto got it that Sakura is in love with him during that encounter. He seemed to be perfectly able to accept that Sakura could be in love with himself as well as Sasuke. It was Sakura's firm belief that she had rid herself of any feelings for Sasuke whatsoever, that Naruto was telling her that she was lying to herself about.
See, this is my problem with this argument. And it's not just here, in response to your single post. I see this brought up all the time about the confession, and it always leaves me scratching my head. Because I just don't see it that way.
So, I have a problem accepting that Naruto was more in tune with Sakura's real feelings, so much so that he could intuit all these things:
Sakura's lying to herself
Sakura's lying to me
Sakura still love's Sasuke
Sakura loves him and me, and I see the clear delineation between the two.Naruto couldn't see the truth about Sasuke! How then could he suddenly see everything so clearly with Sakura?!
People have said 'he was only seeing what he wanted to see with sasuke, but he's so much closer to sakura and he knows her so well. that's how he knows what she's thinking…'
But if his bond with Sasuke is deeper (and it is, it's the driving force in Naruto's life), and he is capable of distorting and denying the truth, then isn't he more likely to do it with Sakura? After all, isn't Sakura's love of Sasuke part of the Team 7 picture he clings to so fervently.
All this blame is heaped on Sakura, but there is no confirmation of her true feelings towards Sasuke. Only towards Naruto. She may have let go of Sasuke years ago. But the one we are shown still clinging to the past, the one with the image of the shattered picture of Team 7, the one who hyperventilates because he can't handle the truth
The blame of deception is resoundingly heaped on Sakura. But I think it's wrong. I think she went there out of love to protect Naruto, knowing that at least one of their team was going to die. So the path ahead of her was death and/or Naruto's hatred.
But I don't think she lied to him. I think she withheld the truth about the timing. She wouldn't answer "why now" when he asked. But she gave him everything else. And when he challenged her, she stuck to her guns. She knew she was telling the truth, that's why she told him he didn't know what she was thinking. Someone who was lying would have come up with another lie.)
Naruto also sure looked to be accepting that Sakura is in love with him now when Sai confronted Naruto about that in 474, he just insisted on Sakura's feelings about Sasuke- that he had observed when she was 12. Note the difference in his mental image of Sakura during that conversation- when Sai talks about Sakura's feelings Naruto, he sees Sakura as she is now. When Naruto speaks insistently of Sakura's feelings for Sasuke, Naruto sees Sakura as her 12 year old self, he doesn't even see her as she was at 13 when he made the Promise of a Lifetime to her. And note Sai's firm words made that 12 year Sasuke fangirl Sakura mental image shatter in Naruto's head. That's as significant as Sakura seeing 12 year old Sasuke in her head when she freezes up, not being able to stab Sasuke in the back. those past images point to memories of emotional bonds. While when Sakura thinks of Sasuke now it makes her feel ashamed of herself and sick that she failed in removing any trace of those emotional bonds to Sasuke.
Naruto and Sakura's interactions immediately after his rescue of her from Sasuke have a vibe of mutual intimacy between them. And Naruto's mental image of Sakura when he thinks of introducing her and the rest of his age peers to his mother reinforces he's aware of her feelings for him.
The confession, as fumbling as it was, did achieve two things Sakura wanted it to- to free Naruto from that wall he had made around doing anything to show his feelings for Sakura, and to let him know she loves him too. That tends to point to Naruto finally making a move in part 2, and Sakura responding positively. (like the vibe we saw between them when he rescued her from Sasuke.) The long awaited Naruto finally kissing Sakura's forehead scene is a definite possibility...
I agree completely with the rest of your post, Ciardha.
I just don't think Naruto was even thinking about the veracity of Sakura's confession while she was talking to him.
Sakura was pouring her heart out, and I think Naruto had mentally raced on ahead to the changes that accepting that love would make.
So when he says "I hate people who lie to themselves," he in fact
was the only one still lying himself. Everyone else had moved on to this bitter new reality.
I think the acceptance of her feelings comes when he rescues her. Her surprise and his physical closeness would all be nice indicators if we didn't have the bang-over-the-head scene of Sasuke in the same strange pose as Madara had all those years ago when Minato rescued Naruto as an infant. It goes to show, unequivocally, that Sakura is Naruto's most precious person, and he knows it now. To compare the love of a parent for a child to his rescuing of Sakura is a bigger, weightier declaration than a simple "I love you" in front of their peers