In Your Shadows.
Balance to get into a steady position without falling to one side or the other.
She sat on his desk by the window. Her cloudy colored eyes scanning the view of the leaf village. Her precious home was experiencing yet another usual morning. Academy students were rushing by, trying to make on time for their classes. Far on the watch posts, Chuunins were switching their shifts on guard duty's. More importantly, she caught sight of Naruto making his way to his favorite ramen stand.
Yes, it was definitely the usual troublesome morning, as Shikamaru would like to put it.
Usual, except for the fact that she had gotten married less than twelve hours ago and she had no idea where her groom was.
She sighed as she turned her gaze to the grand house of the Hyuugas, not far away from where her new home was.
It all started there.
And now she's here.
A few months back, her family's council decided to voice their opinions of her as their future head of the family. They had finally gathered the bravery to inform her father of what he already knew. She , of course, knew that too and was willingly going to give away the title to her younger sister, Hanabi. Unfortunately, the council found that Hanabi's rebellious attitude was unpredictable. They preferred a ruler that was both reasonable and strong.
It seems that both her and her sister were lacking by their standards, on way or the other.
Their was also the problem of the branch house. The members of the branch were starting to prefer suicidal missions over obedience of the main, miserable by their lack of control of their own fate. That is along side of the issue of Hazashi's right to the title that kept rising every now and then.
So they were hitting two birds when they suggested a marriage between the two houses. She was really starting to think that her and Neji were the hit birds. Not the goals they were trying to achieve.
Now caged with no way out of this.
Ever since the meeting when the engagement was announced, she had never seen him again. That is until yesterday.
He didn't look so happy about it, but he was not angry as he should be.
She had given up trying to understand him but knowing his famous temper she had expected at least a two-minute lecture about how fate was twisted yet unalterable. She even decided that she would ignore him whenever he would start. Despite the bitter truth that their marriage was no love match, she would not have a scene at her wedding. Who knows, she might not marry again and she hoped not.
To marry again means Neji has to be dead.
She doesn't want that. Even thought her relationship with him was no more than formality ever since the Chuunin exam, she cared her cousin very much. She knew what man he would have grown into if that incident had not taken place because she befriended him. But since her uncle died he distanced himself from her and became less talkative. She only thought that it was a boy's growing up thing that's why she fought against him during the exam. She foolishly believe that he would not actually hurt her but she had been proven wrong. He came very close to wishing her dead.
Her hand came to rest beneath her left breast where she felt her heartbeats. She never truly healed. There were always complications every now then but she kept quite, only Kiba knew. Her clan didn't need another reason to look down at her for her weakness.
Even with all that, she still cared for him but feared him at the same time.
Last night, they walked after the ceremony that was held at the Hyuuga shrine. In silence and keeping a distance of a few meters between them, they walked into their apartment and she sat on the couch as he started walking towards the kitchen.
You hadn't eaten anything. He snarled. Obviously the calm mask was falling and his anger was starting to show. She had thought then that it was best to leave him alone, to break a vase or two perhaps as she had seen Hanabi do countless times whenever anger consumed her. Quickly making an excuse that her mother had stuffed her with food before the ceremony started to cut any possibility of her fainting. At the same time her stomach grumbled noisily, accusing her of lying. She rushed to the bed room, changed her bridal kimono and tucked herself under the covers of the king sized bed.
She cried herself to sleep.
Turning to the bed, she went back to asking herself the same thing that she had been wondering about from the time when she woke up.
Last night, she precisely remembered two green pillows on the bed. One she had slept on while she hugged the other to herself, another habit of her unsecured personality. This morning, she woke up, hugging the couch pillow. The other green one was against the headboard on the other side of the bed.
Had he slept beside me?
She heard the sounds of the keys coming from the front door. In panic, she run to the bed and slid under the covers, pretending to get her beauty sleep.
A single knock on the door followed by the sound of the bedroom door creaking as it had been opened. The sluggish sounds of his steps was going in rate that was completely different than her heart beating. She felt him stand over her, so very near. She resist the urge to bring her thumbnail and start chewing on it.
She felt his finger press against her forehead, tilting her head slightly so that her face would come to view.
"Whatever life leads you to…" He started." You should never consider acting as a career. You're not any good at."
She groaned at the amusement in his mocking tone. She should have known better than to trick Neji in that kind of thing. He was very observant of things, and could very easily tell what was fake from truth. She opened her eyes and found that he backed away and leaned against his desk. She sat up and run a hand through her hair, tidying her locks into place.
"Ohayo…" she mumbled, Not really knowing what to say.
"Ah..." He said. "Come, we should have breakfast, now. There is also some matters we should discuss."
"Hai." She sighed. Never in her life did she imagine that she would be lectured while having her wedding breakfast.
Throwing the covers aside, she pulled her nightdress down to cover her bare legs. She glanced back at him to fine him still waiting for her. "J…Just give me a few minutes to wash and get dress."
He eyed her for a bit like her wanted to say something but instead he walked out. "I'll be in the kitchen."
She walked into the bathroom, and took her tooth brush from her toiletry bag. Putting some toothpaste on it. She turned to the mirror, self freshening duty on mind.
She gasped as she saw her reflection.
"Kami-sama…" She muttered, seeing the black tear stains on her pale cheeks. She had forgotten to wash off her make up last night. She looked like she went to hell and back. Putting her tooth brush aside, she reached for her make-up remover bottle. Her teeth can suffer morning breathe a bit longer.
Instead of making it better, her mascara just made it worse. Now black rings surrounded her eyes. She threw the make-up remover bottle in the garbage basket, taking notes not to buy from that kind ever again. She glanced back at the mirror. She felt like crying.
So she did just that.
Soap was her only choice. Either that works or she was going to leave things as they were. That's was the worse possibility she could be in, her day can't get any worse.
A knock on the door interrupted her thoughts.
Can you believe her bad luck.!?
"Hinata-sama…" Neji called. "Daijoub desu ka?"
"H.. hai…" She called back. Apparently this guy seems eager to lecture her. she glanced around the counter. "Where do you keep your soap?"
"Should be in the drawers. Hanabi was the one who got the supplies for the house since I was away."
She opened the drawers one after the other, looking for saop.Or anything that would have the same result on her konkoru-like face. Toilet paper. Tooth paste. Neji's shaving stuff. A few combs. Her hair pins and make-up was neatly arranged. She must admit her sister could be kind and helpful when her mood allows it. She opened the last drawer.
Ah.. finally, the soap and… condom packages. She let out a long exhale noisily, speaking loudly of her weariness.
She should have known.
Kind and helpful!! Scratch that.
First thing first. After cleaning her face she would do some rearranging of things so Neji wouldn't know that she had found it. She would put it with his stuff and move the soap with the toilet paper. She's going to let him deal with her sister.
Bathroom business finished. She walked back into the room. Throwing on a robe instead of changing, she was already very late for their talk.
She was twenty. Still, whenever he or her father were around she felt like she was two again.
She found him in the kitchen as he said, arranging what seemed to be his grocery shopping inside the refrigerator. Without turning his back, he spoke.
"Sit down and eat. Tea's already getting cold."
She glanced at the table, surprised that he made her breakfast. A teapot was placed there along with toast. He turned to see her eye the table. Of course being the same old offensive Neji, he apparently saw that her surprise was an insult.
"Its what we have that is healthy enough to eat for breakfast." He said, taking out a bean can. "Unless you're ok with ramen for breakfast. There are a few packages up there in the cupboards."
She stared at his back, with a pained expression. He was blaming her for the situation they were in. When she's a victim in this just as much as he was.
She walked to the table and sat down on a chair that was already pulled. It appears that he was just sitting on it, because it was faintly warm. She held the teapot up as she poured her tea.
"I don't like ramen much."
His movement stilled for a second before resuming. She raised the tea cup to her pinkish lips. "Not anymore?" he asked.
Suddenly, it hit her.
He was talking about Naruto.
She smiled against her cup. Men and their sense of duty, is something she would never understand.
He married her knowing that she could be in love with another because of his duty to his clan. He could have used her past crush as an excuse to not marry her, but didn't. Not that she was cruel enough to do that. If she ever gave her heart to someone it would be lawfully his.
"Change is good." She broke the silence in her usual low, calm voice. No trace of nervousness. "Besides, its not too healthy as you said, and if tea and toast is all I have for breakfast than I gladly accept it."
They carried on what they were doing quietly. She refilled her cup as she watched him close the refrigerator and move to the cupboards. She noticed a hint of smile on his face. Her eyes widened as he began emptying the ramen packages into trash.
"Neji-niisan." She protested. "We shouldn't waste food so."
Ignored, Hinata frowned but drank down her second cup of tea.
"Afraid that too much bread would give you constipation?"
Chocking, she coughed a few times before bursting into laughter. "You'd definitely give me that."
He sat on the opposite side of the table. Her laughs seized into a faint smile. Even with his grave expression, she knew he was in a good mood.
"long ago I was given the curse to serve and protect you." He started.
She waited for him to continue.
"I accepted this on my on will because I knew that there are those who do not wish you well. Both in the main house and the branch. They won't dare try anything now while Haishi-sama is still alive."
"I know what you are going to say. You're just too naïve and overprotected to see it but I know."
Hinata –sama, you are truly a spoiled child of the main house.
The memory came back to her like a blow. He still thinks the same and haven't change a bit. She lowered her head. She knew that he could easily read the emotions in her eyes. She never could help it, but they always did.
"Another reason to why I did this. The council never believe you were worthy of the position they're giving you so they never bothered to teach you the secret arts of the Byakugan when you should have learned them long ago. I'm going to teach you that since I've already found the key to it long ago."
Is that all the main house could do?
She was starting to feel nervous again. "Arigatou. Neji-niisan."
"Its my duty."
"I meant for breakfast. Its not your duty to feed me." Along side with nervous she was getting annoyed. She stood and picked the dishes and cups and started to wash them.
Neji's eyes lingered on her. Catching her every move. Her trembling hands. They way she bit her rosy bottom lip. Her eyes kept moving in all directions as in expecting an attack any second.
"First lesson," He began as he leaned back on his chair and continued to watch her back as she tried to deal with her uneasiness "As a Hyuuga. You should hold your head above others. Either from the main house or the branch house it doesn't matter. But being head of both is all the more reason not to feel unconfident. If that can't be helped then try not to show it. I'm of much lower state, your husband or not."
Hearing no comment, he continued." I've haven't paid much attention to my duty before but I gave you my word that I would protect you." He smiled at her back. "That's my way of the ninja."
Hinata's hand let the dish slip from her fingers to the sink. Fortunately, it didn't break She thought about what he said. He was really confusing but that just how Neji was. Unpredictable.
"You've told me your reasons. Do you care to hear mine?" Neji heard her faint whisper.
"Ah.." he answered. "I don't mind your babbling."
"I've always believe that the seal should have been on me." She began. "You've always proven that your blood was that of a successor."
"Not necessarily true."
"Maybe so." She raised a soapy hand to her eyes whipping away the tears, turning around. "But uncle wanted you to part of the main family. This is the closest I could get you to lead the clan. Technically, you're going to be the one doing that since I'm no good at it. But you're children at least would be born into the main house."
Shocked, Neji turned away from her.
The irony, they were both the same. Miserably trying to do the right thing, thinking nothing about themselves. Only of the past mistake of their own and that of others.
"Gomen." Her whisper interrupted his thoughts. "If what I said have upset you."
"It didn't." he said. "what's wrong with your eyes?".
"Oh … just some soap got into them."
"Go wash them and hurry up with the dishes. I'm taking you to my training spot as soon as you finish."
"Just to let you know. I'm never going to go grocery shopping again."
"I can handle that."
As she rushed to the bathroom, she smiled in thoughts.
Their marriage was going to balance.