Dearly Beloved

In a loveless engagement, Hinata finds herself falling for someone completely off-limits: his sensei.

Sasuhina, Kakahina

A/N: Hello! Trying out a new idea that has been plaguing me for the past few days now. I hope that you like and enjoy! :)

Disclaimer: Naruto doesn't belong to me. This is just bad fanfiction.

Chapter 1: The Proposal

The end of the war came and went. Peace was returning not only to Konoha, but to all the neighboring villages as well. Naruto had done well.

Hinata smiled softly to herself as she closed her eyes. Naruto. The blue eyed man had already given her his answer to her confession. To be fair, she had expected it. He was the sun, admired by all. She could only admire him from afar. She would always have a soft spot in her heart for him, but she knew now that they would never be lovers. Despite all the years that she had yearned for him, the rejection hadn't hurt as much as she thought it would. Rather, she felt like a huge weight had been lifted from her shoulders. She was glad that she had confessed.

Others didn't quite understand the sentiment. Sakura had tried her best to cheer her up, even though the two kunoichi had never been close. Even Kiba had offered to beat the blonde hero up, if it would make her feel better. But no. Hinata Hyuuga looked up into the blue sky, allowing the gentle wind to caress her face. She was happy, more than she had ever been. With the end of the war, it was a time for new beginnings.

She wouldn't be the same girl that she had been. She was an adult now. Hinata took a deep breath before continuing on her way. Her father had asked her to be home for an important meeting. It had to be something personal, as Hanabi was usually the one who dealt with important clan business.

"Good morning." The maids bowed and greeted her back silently. "Have you seen my father?"

"He is in his study, Hinata-sama," the younger maid replied. "He has been waiting for you."

Hinata nodded to dismiss them before taking a deep breath. Although she had received her father's approval and praise for her efforts during the war, a little part of her was still nervous. Absent-mindedly, she smoothed her navy blue silk kimono and brushed back a few wisps of hair from her face before she knocked softly on the screen door.

"Come in." Bowing her head slightly, Hinata slid the door open and then shut behind her. She bowed deeply to show her respects before sitting opposite from him. There was already a cup of cold tea on the table, meaning that he had met someone earlier.

Hiashi didn't turn to look at her, instead staring far outside of the window in his study. It was a look that Hinata wasn't too familiar with. Her father's eyes were always piercing, seeing everything. But now, even with his mighty byakugan, it was as though he saw nothing.

"You wanted to see me, father?" Hiashi turned, and for a second, it looked like his perfectly sculpted Hyuuga mask would break. For a second, he looked so much like the father who had held her in his lap and told her stories. As soon as it came, it was gone and he was ever the stoic leader again.

He gestured towards the tea and wordlessly, Hinata reached for a fresh cup. There was only silence between them, save for the soft gurgling of her pouring tea. Once he had taken a sip, he sighed. Hinata couldn't help but think that he had definitely aged. He was still so strong, but now, his wrinkles had become more apparent. His hair was streaked with grey.

Hinata waited silently, her head bowed. "I called you here concerning a request involving you," Hiashi stated. Hinata looked up, confused, but allowed him to finish. He placed a scroll onto the table, gingerly sliding it to her. "I think it is best if you read it yourself."

Brows furrowed slightly, Hinata opened it. It looked...different. It was not requesting her for a mission or assistance. Quickly scanning the contents, Hinata could feel her heartbeat begin to get faster and faster, until it was as though it would explode.

"F-father," she managed to say, "is this…?"

He nodded to confirm. "A marriage proposal."

A marriage proposal. Her thundering heartbeat suddenly dropped to the pits of her stomach. But who? She didn't have any admirers. She had just been rejected actually by the one man she had eyes for not too long ago.

"The clan has decided that this is a beneficial match." Ah. So her fate was already sealed. Hinata stared down at her hands. She didn't even know the name of her betrothed.

Would he be the son of a merchant? An old politician to strengthen ties between villages? A branch member? Although her father's lips were moving, she heard nothing but the harsh ringing in her ear.

She could feel heat begin to prick her eyes as she struggled not to cry. She was a ninja. She would not allow him to see that her heart was breaking in front of him.

"...he specifically requested this match. There is no other he will accept." But who?

Hinata wordlessly scanned the document again. A sad smile came to her lips when she finally spotted it at the bottom of the page. The small fan that only one man would care to associate himself with.

How ironic. She did not have a chance with Naruto, but here was his best friend, asking for her hand in marriage. She closed her eyes, trying to recall if she had ever spoken with the man. Nothing came to mind.

"Why?" The question hung in the tense air between them. Hinata knew that this was not a marriage proposal done out of love and affection. Yet, how she hoped that maybe, just maybe...maybe she wouldn't be doomed to suffer in a loveless marriage.

She listened silently as her father listed reason after reason. The marriage would allow him to remain in the village. The byakugan was a dominant gene and the sharingan was recessive. It would be the reunification of the two families. As the list got longer and longer, Hinata could feel her eyes glaze over.

Since she was young, she had dreamed that one day she would have a family of her own. Of course, for a good portion of her life, she had dreamed that man would be Naruto, the man she loved. After his rejection, she had hoped that one day, she would find her own happiness with a man of her choosing. She would have a loving family, full of laughter and warmth.

That dream was now gone, taken away by the Hyuuga family and...him.

It was odd. So many other girls would be happy if they were in her shoes. By no means was he ugly. Rather, he was handsome and dark. Mysterious. He was strong, on par with Naruto. Capable. Silent.

Sasuke Uchiha. Hinata Uchiha. She rolled the name in her mouth silently, not quite liking the feel of it. It was foreign and just felt...odd. She knew that everyone would just say it was a matter of time before she got use to it, as though she was trying to break in new shoes but she knew better. It would always just be a title to her.

"Hinata." Jolted from her thoughts, Hinata quickly ducked her head in apology. "Sorry father. I...I was just thinking about the proposal. Can I...think about it first?"

She wondered what Neji would say if he was still alive. Her cousin had become very protective of her and had he been alive, he definitely would have protested the match. But now he was gone and there was no one left to stand up for her.

"You have fought well and hard for this family. You are an adult now, Hinata." His eyes softened just the slightest before he continued. "Think long and hard about it."

"Yes, father." Leaving her father's study, Hinata allowed the feelings of hopelessness and anxiety to consume her. What was she going to do? If she was to think about her village and her clan, then of course there was no other choice but to marry him. Through their marriage, he would be allowed to stay and Konoha would regain a strong member to protect the village as it rebuilt itself. There would be someone as strong as Naruto around. And Naruto...He would be thrilled to find that his best friend had come home. That he had come home to stay.

She didn't know where to go, so she allowed her feet to just take her away. Maybe it would lead her away from the situation, away to a place where she didn't have to deal with a marriage proposal from a man she didn't love.

Everyone would be so happy. Maybe not Sakura. She had loved the man for as long as Hinata had loved Naruto. It would break her heart.

The more she walked, the more she felt lost. She knew what her friends would say, but she also knew that she had a duty to her village. How could she throw away her sense of duty to her village, all for the chance that she would find love? A ninja's purpose was to serve its village and kage. There were those that were lucky to marry for love, but even then, happiness was short. Death lurked around every corner. One wrong move during a mission and their life could be jeopardized. All it took was a shinobi who was just a little bit better, a little bit smarter, and their lives would come to an end.

Hinata sighed as she slumped against a tree. But she didn't love him. Could she really lay in a bed with him? Could she make love to a man who didn't love her? Could she bring children into a house that was devoid of affection?

"Yo." Hinata tensed at the sudden voice. She hadn't even realized that someone was there. Some ninja she was.

Looking up, she spotted the source of the voice. Kakashi sat above her on a branch, orange icha icha novel in hand. She couldn't see his expression due to the mask, but his eyes gleamed at her cheerfully. "Are you also running away from something, Hinata-chan?"

She smiled slightly before nodding. "A-are you running away from Gai-sensei?"

The older man sighed, making her giggle. Ever since Kakashi had been selected to be the next hokage, Gai had increased his challenge requests. It wasn't new that there was a different request everyday.

"So what are you running away from?" Ah. Hinata felt herself deflate as she thought about the proposal again. Was she running away? She snuck a glance at the man above her. This was a chance to get to know him, right? Who better to ask than his teacher?

Hinata plucked a few blades of grass, pretending to examine them. "Kakashi-sensei…" She started out softly, "what do you think of Sasuke-kun?"

"Hmm...what an awfully strange thing for you to be asking about, Hinata-chan," he drawled out, not looking up from his book. "Does this have anything to do with an unexpected proposal?"

Again, Hinata felt her body tense at the blunt question before she relaxed. This was his teacher. Of course he would consult with him.

"Do you...do you think Sasuke-kun likes me?" She felt her face burn with embarrassment. "Even a little bit?"

She could hear his low chuckle above her and the embarrassment made her want to crawl away into a hole somewhere. She probably seemed like a lovesick teenager again, but then again, she had never been a Sasuke fangirl.

"Hmmm I wonder," Kakashi teased, "maybe our Sasuke does have eyes for the cute Hinata-chan."

Despite her blushing face, Hinata pouted. "I'm serious. I...I think Sasuke-kun is a strong shinobi. But...I don't know him. At all. I am not Sakura or Ino...I-I don't have any confidence to meet him head on."

The wind blew softly, but in the peaceful silence between them, the rustling of leaves seemed loud to her ears. It was true. She didn't know how to deal with Sasuke. She knew nothing of him, besides the fact that he was Naruto's best friend that had abandoned Konoha previously in his search for true strength. Hinata released another sigh. Already, they were too different. He was an avenger who was willing to throw aside his loyalty to his village for his own personal gain. She...She would never abandon Konoha or her friends. She would die before she broke their trust and her loyalty to her village.

Through the marriage, she would allow him a way back into the village, true. But would he be loyal to the village? Or was his loyalty only to himself?

The faint sound of a closing book caused her to look up. "Sensei?"

He jumped down in front of her and to her surprise, held his hand out for her. "Why don't we train together for a while, Hinata-chan? Get your mind off of the subject?"

She stared at him, surprised, before nodding. He was right. There was no point in obsessing over it. Training would allow her to forget, even if just for a moment. She took his outstretched hand and followed him to the training field.

It had been a while since she had last gone on a mission with Kakashi, but she remembered his intensity in battle. Being this close to him, she could detect the faint smell of lightning. It made her shiver, just in the slightest. She couldn't help but think that she liked it.

"Cold?" Blushing just a little, Hinata shook her head. It would be embarrassing to explain that she was thinking of his scent.

The field was empty, the green grass bending in waves as the wind blew. Hinata settled into the trademark jyuken position, her byakugan activating reflexively.

"Just a casual spar," Kakashi remarked, though he too settled into a fighting stance. Hinata gave a quick nod. In a flash, he was behind her. She dodged his punch, spinning quickly on her heels to face him.

He weaved flawlessly through her jabs, countering her blow by blow. Realizing that he was taking it easy on her, Hinata felt something in her tighten. She would not allow him to see her as weak!

She blocked his punch, but rather than falling back, she stepped in, delivering a swift unpredicted kick. She quickly closed in, whispering the amount of chakra points to herself as she jabbed them. She gave a gasp as the final jab revealed him to be a clone. She backflipped away, and pulled out a kunai. Where was he now?

The ground below her crumbled, and Hinata felt her eyes widen as she tried to dodge. As he advanced, she took a deep breath. "Protecting eight trigrams sixty-four palms!"

It was exhilarating. The spar continued, pushing her over and over again. Eventually, on the verge of collapsing, Hinata gave a wobbly grin before she eased up from her jyuken stance.

"That's enough for one day," Kakashi concluded. Hinata was pleased to see that he too was sweating and that his breathing was as ragged as hers. Perhaps, she was able to make him take her seriously, even if just a little bit?

He gestured for her to come to him and although a bit confused, she did. Hinata could feel her heart skip beat when he ruffled her hair affectionately. Seeing her confused look, he gave a faint chuckle. "You are strong, Hinata-chan. More than you think you are. Have confidence in your abilities and in yourself."

Ah. So that was the real reason he suggested the spar. To comfort her and her insecurities. Hinata felt her cheeks burn and feeling a bit shy, she looked away. "T-thank you, sensei."

His single visible eye was filled with warmth and Hinata couldn't help but feel happy. He meant it. He had acknowledged her efforts and that was enough.

"So, to answer your question, Hinata-chan," he continued, "you are strong enough to face anything. Even Sasuke-kun and his proposal."

Before she could respond, a loud yell broke the once peaceful training ground. Kakashi groaned. Only one man was that loud and overflowing with the passion of youth, save for his younger clone.

Hinata giggled. "I won't tell him that you were just here, sensei." He looked relieved, but still brought his finger to his lips. In response, Hinata mimed the action of zipping her mouth shut.

Another yell came, closer this time. Kakashi turned to run away, but paused.

"Just Kakashi is good." He winked, or Hinata thought he did, she couldn't quite tell, but she felt her cheeks burn in response. Then he was gone.

In the horizon, Hinata could see the faint green outline racing towards her. She found that she was too tired to confront the energetic man. Besides, there was something else that she had to take care of.

Kakashi had been right. She had to give herself some credit. No matter how it went, she would be strong enough to handle whatever fate threw at her.

For now, she had a marriage proposal to respond to, love or no love involved.

Sigh. So I am not good at all with action scenes. Sorry for the lame fight scene, but hopefully you'll still stick around.

So. Review! I love reviews!