Author's Note: My take on the whole Naruto demon meets damsel in distress thing. Just something to get my feet wet in this whole writing business. Hope you enjoy!

Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto.

Her Sanctuary

It was a beautiful spring day that found an 18-year-old Hyuga Hinata running through the forest outside of Konoha. The indigo haired beauty was so distraught she was not paying attention to where she was going. The familiar trees and fields so often used by shinobi for training and recreation slowly gave way to an unfamiliar and denser forest. No one, shinobi or civilian alike, would venture into this area of the woods where Hinata currently ran. Rumor had it that the Kyuubi, the nine tailed fox demon, inhabited this area of the forest. Nobody knew for sure if it was true, but there were enough tales of disappearances and people who would black out and be found outside the Konoha gates literally scared almost to death.

Hinata, in her state of despair, did not realize that she had an audience as she ran. An unknown entity watched from the trees as she ran through the forbidden forest, unsure of what he wanted to do about his new guest. He generally dealt with all intruders in one of two ways. If someone wandered into his territory by accident, he would make sure to frighten them so badly that they would pass out. That way they would be sure not to make the same mistake again. If one came into his territory on purpose with the intent to "rid Konoha of the beast" then they were dealt with without mercy.

Piercing blue eyes surveyed the fleeing Hyuga. He had to admit she was beautiful. Stunning, really. He could tell by the way she ran that she had some shinobi training. However, her strides were graceful and the way her white robes flowed behind her made her look like an angel or nymph. Her long dark hair shone blue when hit by the sunlight that filtered through the trees. It contrasted beautifully with her creamy white skin. Her observer did not want to hurt such a lovely creature. She had come in by accident and it seemed that she was actually still unaware of where she was running. She honestly was already so distraught that he felt his usual method of terrifying her would be pretty useless. 'It might not be so bad to have some company for a change,' he thought to himself.

Hinata continued to run without paying attention to where she was going. Eventually she tripped over a fallen log and tumbled to the ground. She lay there crying for a few minutes, oblivious to the rustling of a nearby bush. She felt something nudge her arm softly and looked up to see a golden fox with three tails and bright blue eyes. It was a strange sight and Hinata's eyes widened as she jumped and scooted back until her back was against the fallen log she had tripped over. She finally started to take in her surroundings and realized that she had no idea where she had ended up. As Hinata looked around she gasped. The area was stunning. The trees were much denser than the forests immediately surrounding Konoha, and the sunlight that came through the canopy made various patterns of light on the trees and ground around her. She took a deep breath and enjoyed the rich smell of the earth and nearby vegetation.

Hinata heard the quiet splashing of water and noticed a stream feeding into a decent sized pond to the right of the small clearing she was in. She got up and walked over to the pond and saw her reflection with some dirt on her face, arms, and clothes from her fall. She knelt down next to the water and washed her face and arms clean as well as getting what she could out of her white robes. Her eyes wandered to a large section of wild flowers next to the pond. She had never seen most of these beautiful flowers before, which was quite a feat considering her gardening and flower pressing hobbies made her quite knowledgeable in the field of botany. The smell that wafted over to her was indescribably pleasant and that, along with the quiet splashing of the stream helped her begin to relax.

She glanced around again and noticed the golden fox had followed her over to the pond and sat near her. His head was tilted as he curiously observed her and his blue eyes seemed too shrewd to belong to a normal woodland creature. She again noticed his three tails and realized she had very likely wandered into the forbidden area of the forest in her teary state. Hinata recalled the stories of disappearances and terrifying visions that left many in comas, but for some reason did not feel particularly threatened by the fox. He seemed more intrigued than anything else. Still on her knees, she bowed to the golden creature and greeted him, shyly but respectfully: "H-hello Fox-san. I am Hyuga Hinata." The fox bowed his head in response and trotted over to her. He looked up expectantly as Hinata continued: "I apologize for my intrusion. I was distraught and was not paying attention to where I was running."

At the mention of what led her to her current situation, Hinata began to tear up again. As she cried softly, the fox walked over to the flowers and bit off the stem of one that was the same pale lavender as his new acquaintance's eyes. He brought it over to Hinata and laid his head in her lap while holding the flower, offering it to her. She saw this and smiled softly, while taking the flower and whispering a thank you. He kept his head there while looking at her and she felt the need to explain her tears.

"Thank you, Fox-san. I am sorry for my tears. I do not know if you are aware, but the Hyuga are an important clan in the village nearby and I am the eldest daughter of the clan head. As such, I was first in line to take over the clan once my father steps down. However, the clan elders have always felt that my younger sister would be a better fit for the position and I am inclined to agree. My father has always been rather cold and harsh. Behind closed doors, he is truly a caring father, but the Hyuga are known for their emotionless exterior and his general cold demeanor has made him one of the most feared and respected clan heads in generations. My younger sister's personality is almost identical to my father's whereas I am much more like my mother was. The elders think that I am too gentle and so they favor my sister.

"Today I was called into an official meeting with my father and the elders. It seems they finally decided to declare my sister as the official heir. Now, as I said, I agree that she is better suited to the position and have no hard feelings. However, I was informed that the elders and my father will now begin looking to arrange a marriage for me. I always knew that it was unlikely I would be able to marry for love, but some of the potential suitors they mentioned are twice my age and have reputations for being cruel and abusive. Unfortunately, they are rich and powerful and would offer some beneficial political alliances for my clan. I want to be of use to my clan, but I did not realize that I would be reduced to some political bargaining chip. My parents had a marriage based on mutual respect and it seemed pleasant enough. I never thought it would be too much to ask that I at least get promised to someone who would treat me with some kindness."

The fox growled at this. Hinata was startled out of her speech, but saw that he was somehow looking at her with pity. The unusually expressive fox seemed upset at her situation as well. Hinata took comfort in this and began to stroke the fox as he snuggled up closer, enjoying her ministrations.

They stayed like that for a while, Hinata petting the fox and the fox laying comfortably next to her. She quietly admired the beauty and pleasant smells of her surroundings and felt herself beginning to relax. After awhile her eyelids grew heavy and she glanced at the sky, noticing that it was beginning to darken. It was near dinner time at the Hyuga compound and Hinata knew that they would be looking for her given her long disappearance after the clan meeting. She sighed and got up off of the ground, dusting herself off.

"Gomen, Fox-san, but I must head back to the town. My father and sister are no doubt looking for me and are probably growing concerned at my extended absence. I appreciate you letting me visit. I am sorry that I was not better company" Hinata said. The fox just looked at her with his bright blue eyes and nuzzled her leg slightly to let her know it was alright. Hinata continued: "You know, those eyes of yours are really something. I have never seen such a creature as you and I very much enjoyed my time here. W-would you mind very much if I came back to visit?" The fox nodded once to let her know it would be alright and she smiled brightly.

She bowed her goodbye and turned to leave, suddenly realizing that she had no idea how to get out of this forbidden area of the forest. The fox saw her hesitation and realized the problem. He started walking and turned his head to her to let her know to follow him. She sighed in relief and began walking behind him and all too soon she could see the familiar forest immediately surrounding Konoha. The fox walked her all the way to the edge of the forbidden area and stopped. Hinata thanked him and went on her way towards town. As she thought about the strange happenings of her day, she looked back to where the fox had stopped. In his place she could have sworn she saw a handsome young man, tall with blonde hair, blue eyes, and nine fox tails swaying behind him. As soon as she caught a glimpse of this man, however, he was gone. Hinata shook her head, thinking she was more tired than she originally thought and continued her way home.

The blond haired man watched Hinata leave and panicked for a moment when he thought she may have seen him. This was the first human he had interacted with in a long time and he did not want to scare her away. She was so gentle and seemed almost fragile. The fact that his first impression of this girl was her running in tears did not alter that opinion. She was kind, though, and very beautiful. He never imagined that he would allow a visitor, let alone allow one to come back. As he thought about the day he wandered back to the small clearing next to the stream and glanced at the flowers. He picked another of the one that reminded him of her eyes and continued on his way.

The following days and weeks were busy for Hinata, but she would visit the fox and that spot as often as she could when she wasn't on a mission or working on clan business. Hinata would usually bring some hot tea in a thermos and some rice balls for a snack, always making sure to pack an extra one or two for her little friend. She confided in Fox-san all about her life and friends. She brought her flower pressing book more than once to press some of the rare flowers that grew by the pond.

When it was time to go home, the fox would always walk Hinata to where the forests met and Hinata would always catch a glimpse of that same young man whenever she looked back. She tried to ask the fox about this during her visits, but he would just look at her for a second, then ignore her question and trot over to the stream to take a drink or pick a flower and bring it to Hinata. She realized she would not get much of an answer and just let it go.

Hinata and the blonde haired man both found their affections for the other growing steadily, though Hinata did not know that her Fox-san, or rather Fox-kun now, was the same handsome man she kept catching a glimpse of. Instead, she valued her friend for his company and support. She could not explain why she felt so comfortable with him or why she felt that the fox actually understood what she talked about, but the only people she saw regularly other than her family were her teammates and she did not really talk to them other than during training or missions. Thus, she truly appreciated her time and companionship with the fox.

The blonde found himself looking forward to his visits with the beautiful young maiden. He loved how she was considerate enough to bring extra food for him, even though she only knew him as a fox. Plus, her cooking was delicious. He enjoyed listening to her hum as she pressed flowers and seeing her smile as she relaxed by the water. She had wandered around a little bit with him, but they always stuck near the clearing. He wanted to wait to show her the rest of his forest after he gathered up the courage to show her his true form.

Weeks turned into months and before she knew it, a year had passed. Hinata again found herself running in tears to her little sanctuary. She had grown familiar enough with the path that she did not have to worry about paying too much attention as she ran crying. Once she reached her spot she collapsed to the ground and cried until she felt the familiar warmth of her friend nuzzle her side. She looked up and saw he had more flowers in his mouth for her.

Hinata smiled at her thoughtful friend and hugged him to her. The fox stiffened slightly as she had not done that before, but soon relaxed into her embrace and let her finish crying it out. When she was finished he looked at her and tilted his head to the side, asking her to explain the cause of her distress.

"Hello, Fox-kun," she started. "I apologize for once again barging into your home in such a manner." Although Hinata had grown very comfortable in this forest and with the fox, she could not forget the etiquette that had been drilled into her from a young age, and her current state was considered inexcusable in her family.

When the blonde fox nudged her with his nose to continue, she obliged: "When I first came here, I was distraught because I had found out that I was to be promised in an arranged marriage and was concerned that my betrothed would be less than honorable. My clan has received and sifted through offers for the past year and finally decided on a suitor. He is very rich and has considerable political power in the Land of Fire, but he is more than twice my age and apparently has some very... unfortunate habits..." Hinata did not say more as she began to cry again.

With her head in her hands, Hinata did not notice her friend step back and change. She suddenly felt a warm hand on the side of her face and looked up in shock. Her pale lavender eyes widened as they found themselves staring into a pair of piercing blue eyes. They reminded her of Fox-kun's eyes, but this face was not the same as her familiar companion. Instead it was the face of a very handsome young man. The same blond haired man she kept seeing glimpses of when she left the forbidden forest. She examined his face for a minute before seeing the nine tails behind him. Hinata gasped, her eyes widening at the realization of what those tails meant.

"K-Kyubi-sama!" Hinata stuttered out in shock. Her companion seemed disheartened by her reaction and quickly tried to calm her: "Please, Hinata, do not be afraid of me. And please call me Naruto."

"Naruto?" asked Hinata quietly. Naruto nodded and smiled softly at the young woman. "I apologize for deceiving you for all this time. I have been the one keeping you company in the form you refer to as 'Fox-kun'." Naruto chuckled slightly at the nickname and Hinata's cheeks gained a rosy hue.

"I was wary of you the first day you came here so I decided to disguise myself. It was for both our sakes, really, since I feel like in the state you were in that day you would have fainted in shock if you had seen me like this immediately." Hinata nodded, acknowledging the truth of this statement, but still being too much in shock to really say anything. Here was Naruto no Kyubi, the most feared creature in all of Fire Country and perhaps all the Elemental Nations, and he was kneeling in front of her, trying to ease her mind. She had been spending her free time for the past year with the Kyubi and had grown extremely fond of his company! If it were not for the fact that she felt so safe in the place she considered her sanctuary and the fact that she could feel Naruto's concern, she would have fainted from the shock.

Naruto continued speaking, "As I said, I was wary of you the first time you came as I have never allowed any visitors here before. In fact, everyone but you who purposefully comes here comes with the intention of capturing or killing me. You seemed so delicate, though, and so sad that I didn't want to harm or scare you like I usually do. So, I transformed. I never dreamed that I would enjoy your company so much that day, let alone allow you to come back.

"However, I did enjoy your company that day and have only grown to enjoy it more and more. So much so that I cannot bear the thought of not having it..." With this Naruto trailed off nervously looking for some kind of response from the lovely maiden in front of him.

Hinata just stared at him in shock for a few more moments until all that Naruto had said began to sink in. Her cheeks became a deeper pink, and her lips formed a smile, small but very sincere. This was her friend, this was the same companion she had confided in this past year, the one who knew her deepest secrets and greatest fears. Naruto knew everything about her and she finally had the opportunity to talk with him instead of just to him. She gathered up her courage to ask: "Is... Is it alright if I call you Naruto-kun?"

Naruto's face broke out into the biggest smile she'd ever seen. She could clearly see his elongated canines, but they did not frighten her. Hinata was overjoyed. She had never made anyone smile like this. Her clan's stoicism dampened the spirits of even the happiest of occasions. His reaction gave her the encouragement she needed to continue speaking.

"I have enjoyed our time together very much as well. This place has become my sanctuary and you have become my closest friend and confidant. Even knowing that you were disguised this whole time, I still trust you more than anyone I have ever met. I would like to have the opportunity to know you better. However, my betrothal..."

Both Naruto and Hinata frowned. They knew that her betrothal would mean less free time to come here and that she would very soon be out of the village and unable to visit ever again. For Hinata, this was depressing, but for Naruto it was unacceptable.


It was one word, but it held so much meaning for the two of them. Hinata looked at her friend, noticing yet again how handsome he was. His blonde hair was in unruly spikes and his bangs dipped down into his face. His cheekbones were high and he had three whisker marks on each cheek that Hinata found herself wanting to touch. But her favorite feature by far were the piercing blue eyes that stood out from his tanned skin. Those eyes had such a fierce determination in them when he told her to stay, yet at the same time she could see some worry buried deep within them, as though he wouldn't know what to do if she said no. She knew she didn't want to marry that terrible man, but...

"But, m-my clan..."

Naruto looked somewhat disheartened at first, but quickly regained his ferocity.

"What about them? They don't deserve you! They are treating you like some item to be auctioned off to the highest bidder. It's not like they need anymore wealth or power! And I won't let some cruel man have you. You are kind and gentle, not to mention beautiful! I won't let them send you away to someone who can't appreciate you like I... like I do..." Naruto trailed off at this last part, looking away and blushing slightly as he realized what he said. He finally realized right then why he could not let her go. He did not simply enjoy her company. He loved spending time with her. He loved her. He had to tell her. He had to convince her to stay.

Naruto looked back at the object of his affections and breathed in sharply. Hinata was looking at him with wonder, a light blush now permanently dusting her cheeks. It seems she had guessed somewhat where his thoughts were heading. Her pale lavender eyes always looked at him softly. They never held the fear or loathing he was used to seeing. They were warm and made him feel welcome.

"Besides," he said, "wouldn't the people in your clan who actually care for you want you to be happy? Do they really want you to get married to a cruel man who is more than twice your age?"

Hinata thought about what he said. She looked into his eyes and found herself lost in them. She knew she wanted to stay with him.

"I'll stay with you, Naruto-kun."

Naruto's face split into a smile so big his eyes were closed. Without thinking he hugged Hinata and just sat there for a minute, enjoying her scent and the feeling of her against him. Hinata stiffened at first, but melted into the first physical affection she had felt since her mother died when she was a young girl. She felt safe in his embrace and knew she had made the right decision.

"Hinata, there's one more thing. It might change your mind," Naruto said hesitantly. She could tell he was worried about her reaction to whatever it was he was about to tell her. She smiled reassuringly, letting him know she would hear him out. Naruto mumbled something she could not understand.

"I'm sorry, Naruto-kun, but would you please say that one more time?"

Naruto took a deep breath and tried again: "There's one catch to you staying here with me..."

"What is it?" Hinata asked.

"I kind of have to mark you... you know, as my woman. The forest where we are is specifically for demons and other creatures such as myself. It is a magical place that could drain you if I don't give you a little bit of my chakra. You have been safe so far as you only spend a few hours here at a time, but if you are coming here to live, I have to do this to keep you safe. That means if you agree to stay here, you are also agreeing to be my mate... for as long as we exist."

Hinata's eyes widened in shock yet again. She was not against the idea, however it was a lot to take in. Naturo, though, took her silence as a bad sign and started again:

"I promise if you stay with me I will make you as happy as I possibly can. I am a Lord among demons and can give you anything you wish for - fancy kimonos, exotic foods, lavish jewelry. You will be incredibly comfortable and live a life of luxury. I will do anything I can to love and cherish you as you deserve. Forever. I do not go back on my word."

Hinata was touched by the sincerity of his words. She started giggling as she realized that her silence had caused one of the most powerful beings in existence to panic and essentially promise her the world. Naruto looked at her curiously and she took his hand in hers, saying, "If you weren't so sweet about it, I would almost be hurt that you thought you needed to bribe me with expensive things just to keep me here. I already told you that I have become closer to you than anyone else in this world. If you truly love me like you say you do, then I don't know what would make me happier than staying here with you as your mate."

"Forever?" Naruto asked hopefully, wanting to make sure she knew what she was getting into. "Forever," Hinata responded, "Though I am curious about this mark. What do I have to do? Will it hurt?"

Naruto just shook his head and smiled at her. "It may be a little uncomfortable, but it shouldn't be painful. And it'll be over before you know it. I just have to bite you and inject some of my chakra in with my saliva. That way a part of my body and essence will enter you and mark you as mine. This will also protect you as the creatures who live here will be able to tell that you are mine and will be sure not to threaten you. It's actually rather peaceful here lately, but it is a good assurance to have." Hinata nodded shyly at the intimate act he described, but she had already agreed to be his 'mate' for life so she figured this was really just the beginning.

Naruto and Hinata were still kneeling in front of one another on the forest floor. "Are you ready?" Naruto asked, his voice low and quiet. "This is your last chance to back out."

"Yes, please. I-I want to stay with you," Hinata replied, quietly but seriously so he would know she was committed. Naruto slowly leaned forward and placed his forehead on hers. She felt a tear fall from one of his eyes onto her cheek. He grasped her cheek with his hand and wiped it away. He moved his head to whisper in her ear: "Hinata, you have made me happier today than I ever believed possible. I promise I will be everything you ever dreamed."

Hinata's breath hitched as she felt Naruto's warm breath travel slowly from her ear, down the side of her neck to the spot right above her collar bone. He placed a soft kiss on the spot as he wrapped his arms around her. Hinata gasped in pleasure as he bit into her and began injecting some of his chakra. A nice, warm feeling began flowing through her and she could feel their connection growing. When she felt about to burst with his essence, he stopped and placed one more gentle kiss on the spot he had just marked. Naruto looked up and Hinata caught his gaze with her own. She knew that from then on they belonged to one another. She gathered up her courage and wrapped her arms around him as his were around her. She reveled in the feeling of closeness for a moment before leaning in and planting a kiss on his lips. The kiss was short, but spoke volumes for the two lovers.

"I love you, Naruto," Hinata whispered. "Thank you for saving me."

"I love you, too, Hinata," Naruto replied. "I'm so glad you stayed."

After the Hyuga ex-heiress's disappearance, Konohagakure orchestrated a massive search. Her teammates followed her trail to the forbidden forest. According to their dog and insect helpers, the path they found was well travelled, but they dared not go further. They reported their findings to the Hokage who called off the search. She knew better than to send her shinobi in there to retrieve Hinata.

The Fifth Hokage marked Hinata's file as MIA, presumed dead, and the entire village assumed the worst had happened - the entire village except one Hyuga, Hinata's sister Hanabi. A week after Hinata went missing, Hanabi had a dream in which she saw her sister in a beautiful forest setting. Hinata was dressed in an elaborate white silk kimono with silver embroidery that made her look like she was shimmering. Her hair was done in an intricate braid, embellished with exotic flowers the likes of which Hanabi had never seen. Next to her sister stood a man with blonde hair and whisker marks on his cheeks. His blue eyes were fixed on her sister, gazing at Hinata with a look of utter love and devotion. Her sister seemed to look at her for a second and smile before going back to what looked like an ancient marriage ceremony. Hanabi woke up that morning with a smile on her face, her first in a week. She knew that her sister was alive and happy and that was all she needed.