Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto (wish I did though ;D ). Naruto and all characters are property of Masashi Kishimoto.

Prologue

It had only been two weeks since the Chuunin Exams and she had just been released from the hospital. It had taken Tsunade a lot of effort to keep her from dying, and even now she still had trouble breathing.

Nobody knew or even understood why she hadn't forfeited. Some thought it had been plain stupidity, some thought it had been a rare moment of bravery. But the truth was that they were all mistaken; she had done it for him.

She knew very well how much he hated her, how much he blamed her for being weak, but most of all, he hated her because she was from the Main family, and therefore he had to protect her with his life.

With her own eyes she had seen what the cursed seal was doing to him. He felt like a bird in a cage. Bounded to a family that did not accept him for the genius he truly was. She had seen how the bitterness and despair had gotten hold of him when the years had passed by. Turning the happy, and smiling young boy she still remembered into the cold and stoic one he was today.

He had needed something to blame everything on, and she had been it.

But she didn't mind, she understood. She knew exactly how he felt, for in many ways she felt the same. She hated the fact that the family was divided in the Main and Branch Houses and the cursed seals made her sick to her stomach, especially when she saw what it was doing to Neji.

Only because his father had been born mere minutes after her father, he was now practically her slave even though he was so much stronger and smarter than her.


Her father made him accompany her to wherever she went, which left Neji very little private time for himself. It didn't matter how much she begged her father to let her go by herself, he only despised her more for her weakness and took the rest out on Neji, accusing him for putting her to attest against him.

So when the Chuunin Exams were announced she also entered it. Not because she had any serious ambitions of becoming a talented kunochi, but because if she entered, so could Neji.

If Neji had been surprised by her entering the exam he hadn't shown it. He even told her how foolish she was if she thought that a weakling like her could actually pass.

She knew Neji had wanted to fight her, just to show her father and the rest of the Main family who the true heir should have been. But because of the cursed seal he had never been able to hurt her.

But that all changed during the second round of the Chuunin Exams, when it was decided that she would be his opponent.

Her team-mates had practically begged her to forfeit, since they knew she was no match for the Hyuuga prodigy. But she had seen it as a fortunate twist of faith; this would be her chance to give Neji the relief he had been longing for for so long, the chance to actually fight her without the cursed seal stopping him.

So she couldn't forfeit. If this was what Neji needed to free himself from his bitterness, she would gladly fight him. And if she would lose, she would gladly give her life for his happiness.

But the Jounins had stopped him before the fight was over, still leaving things unsolved between them.

What she didn't know was that something had changed during the exams. Neji had been surprised by the fact that she had refused to forfeit, even when he had already severely injured her. And for the first time he had seen a glimpse of determination in her eyes, something he wasn't able to get out of his head.

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