By Lillikira/Silver Dragonfly
Hinata stood silently staring at the oak paneled doors that separated her from the large courtyard of the Hyuga estate. A courtyard that currently held every member of the clan currently in the village, minus herself and her daughter who stood at her side looking up at her with wide pale blue eyes.
Hinata frowned and bit her lower lip as she struggled with the decision she had to make. Tradition demanded that she move forward rising to fill her father's place as head of the Hyuga. However, tradition would also demand that she label one of her children as heir and bind the others to the branch family. She clenched the fist not holding her daughter's hand. The elders of the clans were insane if they thought she would give away any of her children, or any others that had been born in the last years over to the fate of the curse seal.
If Naruto was here she would have have no doubts about rising into her position as head of the clan, trusting that between the two of them they would keep the children safe—but Naruto was not here, nor were her eldest children. Rather they were all in the distant village of Hidden Sand, the twins with their teammate were participating in the Chuunin exam and her husband overseeing the final matches as Rokudaime Hokage. Were he here…
Hinata's eyes widened—and that was exactly what they were expecting. The elders of the clan who had opposed her relationship with Naruto from the very start would expect her to back down and be easy to manipulate while her husband was away. Her lips thinned into a straight line as she readied herself.
"Mama?" A soft voice asked at her side. Hinata turned and crouched down, her frown instantly softening into a smile.
"Are you angry?"
"No honey, not really." Hinata answered, and found that in truth she really wasn't. Annoyed yes, but not truly angry. The elders of the Hyuuga clan had been looking down at her for far too long for it to really anger her now. She glanced at the closed doorway once more and then back at her daughter. "You ready to see the rest of our family?"
The little girl smiled and nodded, her blond pigtails bobbing with the movement.
With another smile Hinata rose to her feet and slid the wooden door open with one hand, the other still holding that of her daughter's at her side. With her head held high in confidence she stepped out in to the courtyard, the soft mummers of chatter stopping instantly at her entrance. Hinata entered the courtyard and proceeded to lead her daughter until they arrived on the small dais where the highest ranked of the elders, her mother, and her sister sat.
"Ah Hinata-sama it is good that you could make this very important meeting of the clan." The oldest and most respected of the elders greeted her, though personally she found him to be the most obstinate and foolish as well. Hinata bowed to him politely and then took a seat at the table where the clan business would be settled—the place where her father would have been. Her actions were not lost on any of the clan members, though she ignored their stares and the faint murmurs; instead making sure her daughter was comfortable at her side before turning to face the rest.
"Hai. My father and I may have not always gotten along, but I know he wanted me to step into this position… I will not turn aside now."
The elder paused for a moment then his smile returned, "Of course Hinata-sama. Now if you will pay attention there is much that must be explained and discussed." And with that the elder started into a long list of items that all pertained to the ruling of the Hyuga clan in one-way or another. When he seemed to weary, one of his colleagues picked up the litany; going on and on without waiting for comment from Hinata who paid attention and silently noted when something that may have been perfectly normal and needed rule or event had been warped to fit the elders point of view.
She ignored the glares of annoyance as she turned away during the middle of one such litany to shift her now sleeping daughter to a more comfortable position. Her daughter settled, she returned her full focus to the meeting at hand, meeting the elders stares head on. She also noted her own mother's smirk and smiled softly in return. The elders would quickly learn not to cross a mother where her children were concerned.
Moments later the elder who was currently speaking finished. There was a pause and then he spoke once more. "Now for the first order of business, as you are no longer the heir of the Hyuga it is your place to name the next heir. I assume it will be Akarui? I heard his chances of advancing to Chuunin in this exam were very good."
"I have no doubt of my son's abilities, but I will not be naming him heir." Hinata responded calmly without pause. The elder seemed surprised for a moment but then smiled at her and nodded as he moved to put brush to paper.
"Ah, it will be Hana then? I heard she has been doing just as well as her brother since they were assigned a team, unlike their academy scores."
"My daughter takes after her father in her dislike of a classroom, it had nothing to do with her actual skill or ability, but I will not be naming Hana as heir either." Hinata answered just as calmly as she had the first time.
The elder seemed truly baffled now as he then glanced at the sleeping pig-tailed blond head lying at her mother side. "Surely you don't intend Tsunade—"
"No. You seem to be missing my point Hozu-san. I will not be naming any of my children heir, nor will you place that title on Hanabi or any of Neji's children."
"But Hinata-sama the clan must have an heir—"
"The clan has many heirs. They do not have to bear that title in order to be considered for the position. If any of my children choose to follow in my footsteps I will gladly name them so, but until they choose that road I will guide them as needed and allow them to make their own choices."
"Bu the prestige of the Hyuga bloodline must be upheld—"
Hinata's eyes flashed in anger. "Do you mean to say that the bloodline that has given our village not one but TWO of its Hokage is any less prestigious? You forget Hozu, my children are of the Uzumaki clan first, and the Hyuga second. It is their choice which path they choose to follow."
The elders were silent as they stared at her in surprise, and many had the sense to look guilty. Hinata didn't give them time to recover. "Now if we can move onto other business." And with those words Hinata moved fully into the position of clan head and quickly set about adjusting many of the clan 'traditions' that had been turned into clan 'conditions'.
Naruto ditched his Anbu guards five miles away from Konoha, choosing instead to charge ahead. He'd received word of Hyuga Hiashi's death right as the 3rd and final Exam had ended and had wanted to leave immediately. However, diplomacy, protocol, and necessity prevented him from leaving Hidden Sand until another three days later. It had taken them another four to reach the territory of Konoha and once they'd crossed that border, Naruto had gotten antsy. Five miles from home, he said screw it and took off. His wife was more important then keeping his rather overprotective, guards happy.
He reached the walls of Konoha within minutes, and for once ignored his normal ritual of pausing to study them before entering. Instead, he leapt over them, waving at the shinobi on guard as he went past and made a beeline for the Hyuga estate.
He ignored the shocked expressions and surprised white eyes as he stormed the estate and immediately located his wife by her chakara—in moments he pushed the sliding door open with a loud crack.
The three people within looked up in surprise. Hinata smiled. "Hozu-san, Haru-san let's continue this discussion tomorrow."
The two elders nodded, bowing to her slightly before quickly moving to leave, bowing to Naruto as he passed. Naruto blinked in surprise.
"Hinata… I heard…"
Hinata smiled sadly, tears forming in her eyes as she gave up protocol and rushed to her husband wrapping her arms around him tightly. "I'm so glad you're home." She whispered as she let the tears fall and clung to him tightly.
Naruto smiled and pulled her closer, his arms wrapping tightly around her waist and back. "Me too… me too." They stood like that for several moments, content to be together and let their emotions free.
A staccato of small feet beat on the wood floors as a head of blond pigtails rounded the corner. "Otosan!"
Naruto grinned, releasing his hold on Hinata long enough to crouch down and scoop up the blond bundle of energy that came running his way. "Ah, I'm so happy Nade-chan hasn't forgotten her 'tosan while he's been gone!"
The little girl laughed and pushed her father's hiate so it covered one eye. "Otosan looks like Kashi jiisan!" Naruto laughed as one arm held his daughter and the other moved to take Hinata's.
Hinata smiled and rested her head on Naruto's shoulder. Her family had come home and Uzumaki tradition would require a small celebration—Hyuga stick-in-the-muds could wait.