A Water Lily
a frozen lake
who will wipe this blood off of us?
what water is there for us to clean ourselves?
Snow crunched under her feet.
A young woman paused, glanced behind herself once more, and continued. She had not detected any movement for several miles now and it was likely that she would not see another human presence for many more miles to come. The thought soothed her.
A flake of snow landed on the tips of her eyelashes, and her eyes shut tightly in reflex. This was weather she was unaccustomed to. Her village saw the occasional light layer of frost, but their winters had always been exceptionally tame.
Unlike the place she was journeying towards now, where hail and sleet would storm the nights and greet the morning with a frost so powerful, it rivaled the arctic poles. An effect of living in the mountains, she reasoned. Idly, she wondered how long her journey would be. Weeks…months... She sighed and shook her head resolutely. It didn't matter.
The young woman was alone, moonlight and chirping crickets her only companions on this mission. It didn't bother her. It never had. Being used to solitude, it seemed, had proven useful for once. Though, she admitted to herself, she would not mind the silent company of another. Someone who would understand. Who would not stare, and accuse, and demand answers she could never give. Someone who wouldn't remind her what a horrible mistake she was making.
She glanced down at her feet, watched as they carried her farther and farther away from her home, and with a sigh, looked back up. She had a long, long way to go.
A cold breeze swept her dark hair back and she wrapped her cloak around herself tightly in response. She wore only a simple cloak over traveling wear and though the chill was enough to grit her teeth, she was also warmer than expected. A light periodical flare of her chakra was enough to keep her temperature stable, a useful trick for unexpected missions. Also useful for runaways who had six minutes to flee their village and did not think to grab a scarf.
Was traveling hundreds of miles in the middle of winter a good idea? No, probably not.
But, as always, luck was not on her side. She wasn't a lucky person nineteen years ago and she wasn't a lucky person now.
In fact, she was convinced that it was now a law of the universe.
That the creator of the cosmos, in his infinite wisdom, decided as he mapped out the stars: And let it be known that Hyūga Hinata must never be happy. And, as an afterthought, quickly added: And shall any joy mistakenly fall into her lap, make sure to follow it up with misfortune, grief, and heartbreak. Lots and lots of heartbreak.
Yes. That sounded about right.
The young woman sighed through her mouth, watched the cold air react to her warm breath in small clouds. For a bittersweet moment, she recalled the days of her youth when she would watch her classmates puff out little clouds like these and pretend they were taking drags off a cigarette. She had never done so, of course, because she had been irrationally convinced in the back of her mind that the game would be over the second she tried to join in on it.
She had not really outgrown that mindset.
For a few moments, she reminisced on her younger self. Wondered what she would think if she could see herself now, trudging through snow, alone, scarred. But her younger self, as depressed and timid and unconfident as she was, was also a firm believer that she would one day change herself. One day, the invisible wallflower that nobody looked twice at would become someone different.
The young woman's pale eyes narrowed as she thought of words said long ago.
She couldn't change fate. She couldn't change her luck either. Luck she had garnered from always making terrible choices that seemed right in the moment. Choices that she felt she had to make. Choices that led her to where she was now. Choices she still didn't regret and would probably make again if given the chance.
It could have been her own terrible luck.
Or it could have been a Hyūga trait. Hyūga were not a happy people, she recalled, as she thought of her father, her sister. Her uncle. Her cousin. Her mother.
Or it could have been him.
Him with his eager eyes and his warm hand. Him with his heart and his spirit that saved the world. That saved her.
Him with his sad smile as he told her it wasn't meant to be.
But mostly, it was her. It was Hyūga Hinata as it always was.
Not for the first time and certainly not for the last if she knew herself, Hinata cursed her treacherous heart that had given her nothing but trouble.
That heart she inherited from a woman who could never show her how to take care of it.
That heart that had decided the happiness and safety of her little sister was far more important than her worth as an heiress.
That heart that had seen the contempt in the eyes of her father and her family and could not convince herself to let them go.
That heart that had seen that purest of hearts before anybody else.
That heart that had slowly failed her but screamed at her to keep fighting, to stand up for herself, to just for once do anything but be herself.
That heart that had always put others before herself.
Her heart, her treacherous, traitorous, unfortunate heart that longed after what could not be attained and damned itself in the process.
It was because of that heart of hers that she was journeying to Kumo now.
Because of her heart and because of her luck, that was why she was meant to suffer.
Because of her heart that would not give up, she must suffer.
This was her fate.
She was sure of it now.
A sharp crack pierced through the mind-numbing silence, and she paused. The ice under her feet—the ice of the frozen lake she carelessly crossed over—fractured, splintering into innumerable fragments. For a moment, Hinata watched the traveling cracks, unable to move.
She thought vaguely of a lifetime of rigorous training, demanded of a career as a shinobi. She thought of the day she learned how to stand on water and how proud she had been of how easily it had come to her. She thought of a mission long ago where she sprinted on roaring rivers, chasing a culprit, huffing and focused and alive.
She thought of how easily she could escape this.
Hyūga Hinata closed her eyes as she hit the water.
When he pulled the woman from the depths of the frozen lake, it did not occur to him just what he was signing himself up for.
He watched her now, unconscious and trembling, in front of his fire, layered in his blankets.
He was not pleased. He had plans. Plans that would now have to be put on hold because a nearly-drowned Hyūga Hinata was now in his care.
Uchiha Sasuke sighed to himself.
This was just his luck.
SasuHina, how do I love thee, let me count the ways.
I first thought of this story some time ago sitting in my doctor's office, listening to instrumental music on Pandora.
A Water Lily by Jia Peng Fang came on. As I listened to it, I could see Hinata so clearly in my head. Every note felt like her life story.
It was beautiful. It was sad.
And I knew I had to write it down. As I thought about it, drafting this story in my head waiting for my check-up, I had just one rule for myself. Hinata cannot be happy. That's why she can't be with Naruto.
Sorry. That's how the song goes. Not to say she won't ever be happy in this story, but I like my angst nice and depressing, don't you?
Anyways, more to come. For everyone that had been looking forward to my promised SasuHina story, it has arrived at last, a million years too late. I have no excuse. I'm lazy and a bad person and lose inspiration quickly.