Chapter 1: An Unexpected Surprise
It was after school, when the afternoon classes were just finished past four o'clock. Students were rushing out of their classrooms, eager to get back home from their exhausting day of lessons, teachers exited their offices, tired as well from the daily shenanigans and the principal was getting ready for her daily intake of sake once she got home from work.
All in all, it seemed to be a rather lazy, boring day for Konoha High. That is, if we were to ignore the brief scuffle that was about to take place behind the school grounds where couples usually go to to affirm their newly formed relationship...or to end them.
Right now, there was nobody but a certain pink-haired girl and a nervous blonde hair boy behind the school grounds. However, given the fact that said girl had a small frown on a face and the way her hands folded across her chest, the blonde was dreading the outcome of their situation.
All in all, the odds were definitely not in his favor this afternoon. Everything seemed to be pointing to the latter of the two outcomes and though he begged, pleaded and even prayed for the alternative, he already knew in his heart why she had brought him out here in the first place.
Now, there's something to be said about the tiny little village of Konoha. It was a simple little trading village. People were reasonably happy with their lives and went about their work with an almost merry acceptance. Nothing ever exciting ever happens in the little village and hence why the villages loved their work so much.
There was nothing to do and nothing to see besides eating and sleeping. Hence, whenever there was news, it usually spread like wildfire since the people were always hungry for ever little bit of excitement in their weary lives. For the most part, gossips regarding the teenagers at the local high school were perhaps the best they could ever get out off.
However, little did they know that a brief little scuffle between two of the villages' beloved teens would soon paved the way to form a major event that would remain forever engraved into every villager in the vicinity, or at the very least, the students, teachers and the principal that went to the said school.
"I'm breaking up with you, Naruto," the pink-haired girl of about sixteen said. "Sasuke-kun has asked me to go to the prom with him this coming Friday night and I said yes."
"Sasuke?!" the blonde growled. "You're my girlfriend, Sakura-chan! I was going to ask you out!"
"Then why haven't you?" Sakura asked.
Before he could give her an answer, she pressed on, "And don't give me the same reason that you gave me last time when you canceled our date!"
"Sakura-chan..." Naruto muttered. "Look...I'm really sorry about our date. I truly am but what with school, the student council and volunteering...I...I just didn't have the time..."
"Sasuke-kun's the president of the student council and he's always able to keep up his grades! I find that a hardly fair reason. You've used that same excuse one too many times, Naruto..."
Truth be told, Naruto had only ever used it maybe two but no more than three times and Sakura knew it. However, she was tired of the lack of attention he was giving her and she felt that if he had went to all that effort to gain her attention, he should at the very least maintained it. Right now, she felt like she was tossed aside because his personal life came first before her and if there was one thing girls hated, it was not being included into their significant other's life.
"I'm not Sasuke..." Naruto replied, his voice choking as he answered her. He didn't want to acknowledge it but her words had hurt him deeply.
Ever since, they had first enrolled in Konoha High, Naruto had tried time and time again to beat Sasuke, be it sports, education or even the position of the student's council head. Sadly, he never even came close. Despite this, he was still one of the top students of the school and held a position that was only third to Sasuke and Neji in the student council.
Naruto had long learned that he would never be Sasuke's equal. What started off as a friendly rivalry soon dissipated into a friendly gesture for him. In reality, what seemed like a competition between the two boys was nothing more than Naruto's enthusiasm to prove to his beloved parents that he was just as much a genius as they were.
What he didn't count on however, was the fact that the Sasuke had a competitive streak. That and the fact that the Uchiha felt that Naruto needed to be put in his place on who the true elite of the school actually was. The blonde for his sake, had long since lost interest in their rivalry but unfortunately, not Sasuke. The Uchiha had always considered him a notable challenge and had continuously egged him on, despite Naruto's lack of interest.
It didn't help his cause however, that both his teachers and classmates were always comparing him with Sasuke, although he had always put on a brave front and smiled happily at their verbal jabs and comments.
He knew it was all harmless talk but somewhere deep inside of him, he wished that they would just stop. It hurt his feelings but unless he wanted to outmatched the Uchiha, he wasn't going to be able to stop them. Nor did he feel compelled to re-start the rivalry that was once between the two of them. If anything, he felt even less devoted to expend more time and energy to compete with Sasuke.
The only bright thing in his life was that his crush of two years had finally agreed to be his girlfriend when he asked her out six months ago. Truth be told, he was expecting to be turned down since every girl in the entire school seemed to have a huge crush on Sasuke.
However, the simple words of "Sure, I'll be your girlfriend" lifted any doubts he had had and life held a new sweet blissful reprieve for him. The two of them were reasonably happy, if not entirely happy together. However, things started shaking up a bit when Minato, Naruto's father, asked his young son to help out at the local orphanage, citing that they, being much better off, were obliged to help the less fortunate.
Naruto had willingly agreed to help his father as he was a very compassionate person and had thought that Sakura wouldn't mind that he was taking some of their time off to help the needy. Indeed, she didn't mind but she didn't like the way he had just brushed her off so suddenly without so much as asking for her opinion or considering her feelings on the matter. Rather, Naruto had just told her what he was going to do and that was that.
Just when things couldn't get any worse, their relationship took another drastic turn; when Naruto saw Sakura hanging out with Sasuke ever since he started helping out at the orphanage. At first, he convinced himself that there was nothing going on between the two and that Sakura wouldn't do something so low as to cheat on him. Besides, they only ever hung out at school and she wouldn't have said yes to dating him if she preferred Sasuke over Naruto.
Then came the next wave of denial from Naruto as he saw the two of them hanging out at the humble little shopping mall in the village. Once again, Naruto convinced himself that there was no way Sakura would ever cheat on him and that she must have been asking his help on picking out a present for Naruto since his birthday was just round the corner.
However, no such luck occurred since his birthday came and went without so much as a hint of acknowledgement from Sakura. She did apologize later when she realized what she had done and had tried making it up to him but he had angrily rebuffed her for her actions.
Then came the stage of tolerance between the couple where neither would talk to one another for a whole week after Naruto's birthday incident. Throughout the week, Sakura had tried her best to apologize and make amends but Naruto was still too bitter about it. He finally relented when Kushina, Naruto's mother, finally advised him to let go of his anger. After all, Sakura was still human and Naruto was no masterpiece. Their relationship mended somewhat after that but there was now a gap between them that wasn't there before.
Things only went downhill from there as Sakura kept giving him the cold shoulder about it and Naruto commenting on her spending too much time with Sasuke. It certainly didn't help matters when Sasuke joined in on their fights and Sakura taking Sasuke's side of the argument. That had been a week ago however and that was how the couple ended up in the current situation.
That very same morning, Naruto had felt great remorse and shame at being jealous of Sakura's relationship with Sasuke. He didn't know why but he always felt angry whenever he saw his girlfriend hanging out with the Uchiha but the Uchiha had never done anything. Realizing this the night before, as he was analyzing their situation, he had resolved to salvage and mend their broken relationship.
If anything, he still loved her and had been dying to ask her out to the upcoming junior prom dance but had always been in the wrong state of mind to ask her out. That morning he had gotten up extra early, ate a quick breakfast, wished his mother a hasty goodbye and rushed off to school to secure himself a pair of tickets to the upcoming junior prom dance.
Whether it was an act of kindness from the Heavens above or pure luck, Naruto had managed to secured himself the last remaining pair of tickets. The morning then went by relatively quickly after that with Naruto in a slightly uplifted mood. The first stage of his plans had gone by well.
The next phase would then involve him apologizing sincerely to both Sakura and Sasuke for his behaviour over the past few weeks. If anything, Sasuke deserved more of an apology from him than Sakura because of the way Naruto had acted towards him. He never thought about it until now but maybe he and Sasuke could put this bitter past between them and move on as true friends. After all, it was partially his fault that he never confronted Sasuke about their rivalry. Maybe if he tried explaining to the Uchiha, everything would work out?
However, before he could even execute the next stage of his plans, Sakura had sent a text containing four little words that held more terror to any man alive than any weapon possible:
'WE NEED TO TALK'
This was what led to the state of the current situation between Sakura and Naruto. The blonde was now staring at the floor, with his head downcast. Tears were already forming in his eyes but he wouldn't let Sakura see them. If this was his last act of defiance against Sasuke, then so be it. Anything, not to give the raven haired boy any recompense.
"No, you're not but that's hardly the point Naruto," Sakura replied.
"Then why...why do you always compare me to that bully?!" he nearly shouted, turning away so not as to face her. The tears were sliding down his cheeks freely now and there was no way he could stop their flow.
"I...loved you once, Naruto but I don't feel anything for you anymore," Sakura answered. "Please...do me a favor and let me go."
"Is this what this is about?! You...WANT MY PERMISSION TO DATE SASUKE?!"
"Fine, you can have it. You and Sasuke can screw each other for all I care. At least before I let you go, I want to know one thing...I have the right to know...did you only choose me because you couldn't have him in the first place?"
"Answer it," he demanded.
"It's over Naruto..." With that said, Sakura picked up her bag and left the school grounds, leaving him alone with his thoughts.
"I should have known," he whispered. "How could I have been so stupid..."
At the Namikaze residence that same evening,
Where is soichi? Kushina thought. It's nearly seven and he's not back yet. Ooh, I can't wait to tell him what he's received in the mail!
Just as the thought raced through her mind, the sound of a door clicking could be heard and the shuffling of feet a few seconds later.
"Soichi!" Kushina called out with a big smile on her face...until she saw the dead look on her son's face. "Naruto! What in the world happened-?!"
Instead of a verbal response, Naruto rushed towards his mother and embraced her tightly as he cried heavily into her shoulders. Stunned though she was at the development, she hugged her beloved son back, all the while cooing softly into his ears. His sobs became less and less until he was just breathing heavily. When she was sure he was emotionally stable enough, she guided him slowly towards their living room before settling both herself and him onto their couch.
"Mom..." Naruto said miserably. "Sakura...Sa..."
Try as he might though, Naruto just couldn't finish the sentence without bursting into another fit of sobs. This time, it was Kushina who embraced him in her arms as he cried out all the hurt and pain within his heart. With the patience and love that only a mother could know, Kushina slowly stroke her son's head, all the while humming a soft lullaby to her teenage son. It might seemed a little childish but it definitely did the trick. Naruto soon calmed down enough to speak properly without having a sob punctuate his every sentence.
"I'm ashamed mom," Naruto said. "I'm sixteen but I'm acting like a four year old..."
"It's okay Soichi," Kushina cooed. "Everything's going to be alright, I'm right here for you. Now...why don't you tell me what actually happened?"
It took a lot of coaxing out of Naruto but he finally told his sad tale to Kushina. Kushina merely bobbed her head slowly as she listened to Naruto's account of his heartbreak with Sakura.
By the time he was finished, it was nearly nine o'clock at night but neither of them minded; for one, Naruto felt much better after explaining everything to Kushina and for Kushina, it was always a plus for her to be able to help out her dear soichi in any way seeing as he strove his best to make both her and Minato proud of him. For a moment, neither of them moved as Naruto lay snuggled up in Kushina arms, the seconds ticking by. Then Naruto broke the silence.
"He's on another business meeting, Soichi," Kushina answered. "Being the mayor does have his down sides from time to time..."
"Oh..." he answered lamely.
"Oh! I almost forgot Soichi," Kushina said suddenly, excitement riff in her voice. "You've received a letter from Hina-chan! It says that she'll be coming over to our little village this Friday along with her father and they want you to show them around!"
"Who's...Hina-chan?" Naruto asked slowly. Seeing her son's dumb expression made Kushina smiled softly. Slowly, she bent forward to whispered a few things into his ears. Naruto's eyes widened as the meaning of the words sank into his brain.
"Y-you can't m-mean that H-hina-chan!" he stuttered. Kushina merely nodded at that.
"Why now?!" he muttered.
"Soichi...maybe it's time you started explaining to her why you did what you did back then..."
"And make her hate me more than she already does? I don't think so..."
"Soichi! Hina-chan would never hate you!"
"You know what I did to her ten years ago, Kaa-san..." he answered miserably.
"It wasn't your fault..." Kushina replied. "Besides, Hina-chan wouldn't have sent this letter to you if she still hated you."
"Maybe she's trying to get revenge for what I did back then."
"Naruto! I'm disappointed at you!" She scolded back. Seeing her son flinched at that, she continued in a milder tone. "Give her a chance Soichi. After all, you two used to be the best of friends when you were kids..."
This was true. Winding back the clock ten years ago, Hinata's family used to lived just next door to the Namikaze residence. Both of them were introduced to one another before they could barely walk and they then proceeded to grow up together next door to one another.
For the two toddlers back then, life revolved around the other. They played together, ate together and even started kindergarten together. While both mom's found it adorable and sweet that their children couldn't bear one moment of being separated from one another, Hiashi, Hinata's dad, had other plans in her child's future. She was the successor to the esteem Hyuuga coorporation and wasn't fit to grow up in a humble little village far away from the company's headquarters.
Minato, Naruto's dad, had tried to argue with his long time best friend about doing what was best for Hinata's future seeing as both kids were inseparable but Hiashi was adamant in his request. He had then told Minato that once Hinata turned six, he would be taking his family and bringing them back to the city so as to better tutor Hinata in the ways of running the company.
Unknown to both adults however, a young Naruto had heard everything that they had both said and knowing the pain that would cause his first friend if he only made it more difficult for her to leave, he hardened his resolve to hurt her in every possible sense of the word so that she wouldn't regret leaving him later.
However, this turned out harder than he thought since Hinata was sweeter than any other person he had ever met, apart from his mother. That and the fact that she didn't seem to understand the underlying principle of Naruto's abrupt meanness towards her during their last week together made it even more frustrating.
Worse than that?
She had merely pulled him into a hug and told him that he must be having a miserable time for him to be so angry and mean to her. Everything thing he did only served to make it harder for him to carry out his plan but he was an Uzumaki as well as a Namikaze and a very stubborn one as well. So, with his heart breaking, he did the one thing that he still regretted up till this very day. He broke her fragile heart and left her emotionally scarred for the rest of her life.
"Get off of me!" a six year old Naruto said as he roughly pushed Hinata away from him.
"N-naruto-kun?" the young bluenette had answered back.
"I don't want to be your friend anymore. You're annoying and you cry at almost every little thing that happens to you! Go away! I hate you!"
"Didn't you hear me! I hate you!"
Tears now stream through Hinata's eyes. An angry look crossed her face before she answered back in an angry voice, "F-fine. Y-you won't see me anymore then!"
Saying so, the bluenette turned away and ran back to her house, her sobs echoing through out the way. Had she turned, she would have noticed the stream of tears falling from Naruto's eyes but he was thankful that she didn't see them.
Kushina, who by the way had witnessed everything up till that very moment, was about to scold her young child for his behavior when she saw the tears running down his cheek. It was then that she knew what Naruto had planned and she was devastated. Minato had told her everything about Hiashi's plan and she knew that both children were going to be hurt at having to saying goodbye to their very first friend. What she didn't count on was the fact that Naruto had managed to find out about the adult's discussion nor his selfless behavior at hurting Hinata.
Deciding the best course of action, she opted not to interfere. If anything, her young son would come to find her is he needed her help. If he didn't, it meant that he wanted to be alone and coming up to him now wouldn't help him in the least since there was one thing all Uzumaki's loathe from others: PITY.
"Times...change," Naruto said. "But I've always missed her dearly. I...don't know what I should do."
"Trust your heart soichi," Kushina expressed. "Things have a funny way of working themselves out. Plus..you won't be needing these tickets since you'll be meeting Hina-chan this coming Friday!"
With that said, Kushina dipped her hand swiftly into her son's left pocket and snatch the pair of prom tickets. Before he could even argue, she torn the tickets in half, got up and dispose of them into the nearest dustbin.
Well, that's one way of taking care of matters...Naruto thought gloomily.
"It's late soichi," Kushina called back. "Let me get you some supper then you need to start getting ready for bed."
"I'm really am pathetic," Naruto sighed, as he got up and followed his mom to the kitchen. "Coming mom!"
The next day at Konoha High,
"You're resigning from the student council?" a brown haired man of seventeen called out from the row of five people facing Naruto.
"Yes Neji-san," Naruto answered back. "I've...decided that the council has been taking too much time from my studies.
"Hmm, your grades were top-notch from what Sensei told me, Naruto," the person on the far left of the row answered.
"Let's cut the chit-chat, Nara," the person in the center of the row answered before turning his attention back to Naruto. "You're just quitting because of your heartache over Sakura aren't you?"
"That's not the case...president," Naruto answered back coolly. "And I would prefer it if you wouldn't pry into my personal life.'
This prompted a glare from the raven-haired teen. "Oh? So tell me...who are you bringing to the prom then?"
"I'm not going to the prom. In fact, I'll be very busy over the next few weeks and hence why I'm quitting the student's council."
"Unless you tell us what it is, I'm afraid we can't let you off so easily," Neji said.
"I can't say anything specific Neji-san since it involves my personal life but...I will tell you this. A certain blue haired person is involved."
"What are-" Neji started before his eyes widened at the impact of Naruto's words. "I see. Very well. As vice-president of the student council, I approved of your request."
"You're just going to let him go?!" Sasuke challenged.
"I would advise you not to pursue the matter, Sasuke-san," Neji answered back carefully. "Not unless you want to challenge my position in this council."
Normally, Sasuke would have fought back at this jib from Neji...if not for the fact that Neji's own family held a large influence over the village because of the Hyuuga corporation.
The Uchiha's themselves were business rivals to the Hyuugas but were suffering quite a large setback when a certain incident exposed quite a bit of corruption and blackmail within the Uchiha company. However, because of the way they had managed to entrenched themselves so firmly in the cooperate world, the Uchihas had managed to circumvent this horrendous situation altogether. Nonetheless, their corporation name was forever tarnish and they were now far behind their business rivals, the Hyuugas, in terms of opportunities and prospects. Needless to say, it also caused Sasuke to resent the way Neji now held the Uchiha name.
The fact that he was president of the student council however, was no bragging right to Sasuke since Neji had actually held that post prior to Sasuke and had managed to keep it for two years running. In fact, Neji wanted to resign himself but was persuaded otherwise by Shikamaru who stated that the council would fall into disarray without his management skills. So while Sasuke was the president, true power was actually held by Neji on account of his past experiences as well as actions.
"Fine," he snapped. "And you, Naruto, get out of our sight."
"Gladly," Naruto snapped back. With that the blonde turned around and exited his way out of the student council's office.
"This just got a lot more troublesome," Shikamaru muttered.
"You don't even know the half of it..." Neji sighed.
The week passed by rather slowly then for the school. Couples were getting ready for the upcoming prom, while singles were hastily finding a way to get hooked up as soon as possible so as to not missed the biggest night of the entire school year.
Then, there were others who couldn't be bothered in the least. Naruto was one of them. Throughout the entire week, he was busy racking his brains on how to best approach Hinata. Would she be mad? Would she be sad? Or whould she just not care?
Anything was better than the last option, he thought. At the very least, if she was still angry, it showed that she still cared for him, even if a little. All too soon, the dreaded day arrived and our young blonde was in a state of nerves as he processed every possible situation that may arise from meeting Hinata.
At the Namikaze residence, Friday evening
"Soich, stop messing about! Hina-chan and Hiashi-san will be here in a few minutes," Kushina scolded.
"So...are you excited to meet Hina-chan, Naruto?' Minato asked.
"I...don't know, dad..."
"From what I've heard, she's a total looker!' Minato answered half-heartedly. His amused face soon turned gloomy as both his son and wife glared at him. Right at that moment, however, there was a knock on the door.
Thank you so much, Hiashi! Minato thought.
"I'll get it!" Minato answered, leaving his wife alone with his son.
"Really...I can't ever seemed to understand your father sometimes," Kushina muttered, shaking her head.
"At least he didn't try giving me 'the talk' like uncle Jiraiya." Both mother and child shuddered at that.
Jiraiya, Naruto's godfather and the Namikaze's family close friend, had often dropped by from time to time to visit the residence. Unfortunately, for Naruto's fourteen birthday, Jiraya had decided that his godson was old enough to learn about the ongoings of the adult world. Having decided so, he had dragged his teenage godson to his room and begun lecturing him on the more...seedy side of life. Luckily for Naruto, Kushina had managed to drag his perverted godfather out before things got too unbearable for the blonde.
Still, Naruto had heard too much and he never looked a girl the same way ever again. Now, all he could ever think about whenever he met a pretty lady was not to stare at her 'assets', as Jiraiya called it. Suffice to say, that was one of the more memorable and least enjoyable visits of the traveller.
However, it was worse on poor Jiraiya. When Kushina was done with him, he couldn't get out of the hospital bed for more than a month. It didn't help matters that Minato had rushed in quickly the next day after his beating, in a horrified look, telling him to leave as soon as possible.
Naruto couldn't face his mother after his 'little' talk and Kushina was beyond mad at the corruption of her beloved soichi but that would a tale for another day...
The sound of the front door opening could be heard from the living room, snapping both Naruto and Kushina out of their reverie. A second later, Minato entered with a middle-age man along with a young girl of sixteen.
"Ah, Naruto-san, it's been a long time since I last met you. Well met indeed," said the middle-aged man who was dressed in a formal white kimono, accompanied by a wooden walking stick.
"It's a pleasure to meet you again, Hiashi-sama," Naruto replied, shaking the older man hands.
"Minato, Kushina," Hiashi addressed once the greeting was done. "There's something that I need to discuss with you...would you mind if we were to leave these two alone for their little catching up?"
If either of them were surprised at Hiashi's action they didn't showed it. Slowly, Minato got up and gestured for Hiashi to enter his personal study.
"Be nice soichi," Kushina whispered as she brush past Naruto and followed after the two men. There was a click and the door shut close, leaving the two teenagers alone in the living room with each other's presence.
Seconds tick by as the silence between them stretched longer and longer.
Say something! Naruto thought. Anything!
Presently, he had his head face down into the floor and hadn't even so much as glance at Hinata the moment she had entered the living room. Just as he was about to voice out his thoughts, he heard a small cough coming across from him.
Warily he turned to look up at her and almost got the shock of his life. Gone were the days when the Hyuuga girl was a cute little six year old. Now, the Hinata that stood in front of him had the body of that of a fully grown woman; while she was dressed rather conservatively in a loose fitting, long-sleeved, lavender and cream zip-up jacket with lavender cuffs with navy blue pants and black, low-heeled sandals, the outfit did little to hide the ample curves her body held.
She had retained her midnight blue hair, but had left it to grow up to her waist-level over the past ten years as well as her soft velvet color eyes. What shocked Naruto the most however, was the tender look that look that she held on her face, a face that would put the very beauty of the moon to shame.
"H-hi...Na-naruto-kun," Hinata stammered, offering a shy smile and a timid hand gesture.
"You still haven't fixed your stuttering Hina-chan," Naruto replied without thinking. Almost immediately, he berated himself for coming up with such a blatant remark.
"That...I'm sorry, Hina-chan..." he apologized.
"It's o-okay Naruto-kun," Hinata giggled. Then she sighed happily. "You h-haven't ch-change a bit as w-well. I was a-afraid th-that you would be di-different Naruto-kun."
"Hina..." Naruto murmured. "Hina, aren't you...aren't you angry at what I did the last time we met."
"Uh-uh" she mumbled back, as she shook her head slowly. "I could nev-ver be angry at you Naruto-kun."
"But I hurt you! I hurt you so badly..." Naruto protested. "I'm so sorry Hina-chan...I know I don't deserve your forgiveness but I'll beg for it. I do what ever it takes to earn it back..."
Saying so, he prepared to lower himself only to feel a firm grasp on his arm as the bluenette crossed the room in a stride that would make any ballerina's heart broke.
When did she get so graceful?! Naruto thought stunned. Hina's like a totally different woman!
"Please st-stop, Naruto-kun," she pleaded. "I...I know why you did it."
"You knew?! But...how?"
"I came back...ba-back to say go-goodbye one last time wi-with Tou-san and we found y-you cr-crying in aunt Ku-kushina's arms," Hinata explained.
"We h-heard everything..."she trailed off. There was no longer any need for a further explanation since Naruto himself knew what had happened on the day of Hinata's departure.
The night before Hinata's departure, he had cried himself harsh and his case of sobbing had worsened the day after. While Kushina had urged him to make amends to Hinata, his six year old self had still been adamant in his plan of hurting Hinata. Of course, his resolve would have broken had he seen the pair of father and daughter that had slowly walked behind him while he was still locked in his mother's embrace. Then again, he was too hurt and full of guilt to pay any particular attention to those around him.
"Sob...Mom...sob," Naruto cried. "Will...sob...Hina-chan be...alright...sob sob"
"It's okay Soichi," Kushiha said, trying to hush her dear son. "I'm sure she'll managed just fine."
It was then that unknown to Naruto that Hiashi and Hinata had managed to intrude onto their little scene. Kushina, however did, and had gotten ready to inform him of their guests arrival when a sharp shake of the head from Hiashi made her held her tongue. She knew Hiashi was up to something but if he was asking her to keep her silence, it must have been important. So instead, she began rubbing her son's back slowly, to help him ease his uncontrollable shaking.
"Naruto..." Kushina said. "It's not too late...you could still say goodbye to Hina-chan."
"No," he whispered back fiercely. All trace of sobbing was gone for the moment although his voice was still shaky. "I don't want Hina-chan to be sad. I hate it when Hina-chan is sad!"
"Then why did you break her poor heart?" Kushina asked, asking the question that had been on everyone's mind up till then. For the first time in years, there was absolute silence in the Namikaze compound as all three occupants in the room listen intently to the blonde's answer.
"Hina-chan...*sniff*...would be sad if I...*sniff*...didn't be mean to her...sob" the young Naruto had answered back. "Now..*sob sob*...Hina-chan won't cry...sob sob sob...when she leaves-"
Whatever more he was going to say was lost in the uncontrollable fit of sobbing that had racked through the boy.
To say his counterpart was shocked at this turnabout would have been an understatement; guilt racked through the little six year old's chest as Hinata processed all this in her mind. Her eyes watered instantly as she rushed to embrace her dear friend, who had sacrifice their very relationship in order to preserve her happiness.
However, before she could even take a step, she was restrained by her father, who proceeded to firmly escort her out of the Namikaze residence.
"Tou-san," Hinata began but was interrupted by Hiashi.
"Not a word, young lady." Once there were back at their place however, he asked in a milder voice, "What do you think of Naruto-kun?"
"He's an idiot!" she shouted back, shocking Hiashi tremendously as he had never seen his sweet little firstborn to throw a tantrum before. "I hate him! I hate him! I *sniff* hate *sob* him *sob sob sob*..."
Now it was the bluenette's turn to cry out her misery and guilt she was feeling towards her young friend. The first thing she had wanted to do then was to comfort the young blonde but one way or another her father had managed to persuade her otherwise.
For starters, if she did so, she would be scorning Naruto's effort at retaining her happiness, although that had backfired horribly since the father-daughter pair had managed to intrude on the blonde's confession.
Secondly, Naruto wouldn't have done what he did if he thought Hinata was strong enough for this. Hiashi had then explained to Hinata that if she wanted Naruto's recognition, then she would have to strengthen herself so that he wouldn't have to shoulder all the hurt and anguish himself but rather together.
Lastly, it was what the blonde wanted and to suddenly go against his self-sacrifice, would be denying his act of goodwill. Hinata had then promised herself then and there that she would have to better herself for Naruto's sake.
Over the years, she had managed to retain most of her kind and sweet nature but had also developed a firm and unyielding stand on things that went against her better judgement.
Woe to those who thought that they could crush the innocent looking Hyuuga girl because they were terribly wrong; Hinata might look like a frail little lady but the truth couldn't be further from the matter; many knew that Hinata was a top dancer as well as a skilled violinist but not many new that she had a black belt in judo or the fact that her dad had already begun drilling her in the innermost secrets of the Hyuuga coorporation.
She was also an adept debater as well as having a mind that was quick to grasp the concepts of world politics and the issues on economics. What was the most terrifying thing about Hinata however, was the fact that she managed to win all those mind games and mental challenges with nothing more than a soft voice and a small smile. A skill, undoubtedly taught to her by her mother who was an expert in such matters.
Many had tried gaining the hand and favor of this rare and precious jewel but all failed. To young Hyuuga girl; they were only interested in either her looks, talents or background. She had vehemently rejected each and everyone of them. To her, Naruto still held a special place in her heart and that feeling had grown from more than a mere crush, when he broke her heart, to true love over the years.
Hinata herself had long realized that nobody but Naruto would have done what he did and nobody but him would accept her for who she was and not someone they lusted after. So after careful years of planning, she requested her father send her back to Konoha.
Of course, Hiashi was surprised at the antics of his pride and joy but he relented when Hinata hinted, ever so slightly, to leave the Hyuuga corporation should he disagree. Still, Hiashi managed to convince her to enroll at the prestigious Senju high boarding school instead of Konoha high, just within the outskirts of the city.
Senju high was not the only school in Konoha that provided boarding services, Konoha High did as well but while Konoha High was a public school, Senju high was a private one and an expensive one at that. Many rich families in the fire nation sent their children to Senju high and Sasuke would have well ended up in there as well had they not rejected his application.
Regardless of the way things turned out, Hiashi knew the true reason behind his daughter's actions and much to her joy and surprise, he had given her his blessings, citing that he had always kept a close eye on Naruto throughout the years and that there was not another man of better quality than him that could truly made her happy if she were to spend her life with another. Unfortunately, little of what he or Hinata did was able to stop her stuttering at all...
"I'm sorry Hina-chan," Naruto apologized once more. "I didn't want you to be hurt..."
"I cannot forgive you for what you did Naruto-kun," she answered back softly.
"I understand..." he begun but stopped when Hinata placed a firm finger on his lips.
"No, you don't Naruto-kun," she explained gently. 'I can't forgive you be-because there's nothing to forgive..."
A moment of silence stretched between them before he broke it.
"So can we start over, Hina-chan? As...friends?"
The bluenette turn to give him a quick glance before looking away, her face a soft blush as she did so.
"Y-yes," Hinata answered back shyly. "I-I would like that v-very much, Naruto-kun..."
Deep down however, she was thinking other thoughts...
I would like to be more than friends Naruto-kun, she thought. I love you, Naruto-kun...