--chapter three--

It wasn't the tombstone that brought these emotions, just what was on it, in front of the vase.

A single blue rose.


Hinata carefully gathered her long, silky locks together and pulled them into a bun atop her head with a long blue ribbon, the shorter chunks framing her face. Turning slightly to observe the view of her back, she smiled slightly in approval, glad that she agreed to Ino's choice of yukata. It was powered blue with a white floral design that fit her quite nicely.

Taking up a small matching bag, she looked at the dried blue rose that stood atop the table by the mirror and with a small smile left the room.The girls would be waiting for her at Ichiraku's and head to the summer festival to find the guys.

"Ah, Hinata, you look gorgeous," Tenten smiled as she joined the circle of girls that included Sakura, Ino and Temari, who was visiting the village with her siblings.

"Hina-chan, you look wonderful!"

Hinata shook her head and returned the smile. "Everyone does tonight, Neji will love that color on you," She teased lightly, causing the brown haired girls face to flush faintly before they started for the source of lights where people congregated.

"So, how do you like my choice pick?" Ino asked eagerly, falling back a step to stroll with her. "I told you it suits you best, didn't I?"

"Yes, I like it very much," Hinata nodded calmly, "To think they didn't have a mirror at that store, I'm glad you were with me."

"Hidden places have rare finds," The blonderecited just as she had hours before on her outing with Hinata.


The group stopped and looked to the owner of the voice, which they already knew to be Shikamaru.Watching the crew of boys emerge from the crowd, they were able to identify Shikamaru himself, as well as Chouji, Lee, Shino, Gaara, Kiba, Kankuro and Sasuke. Hinata frowned when found herself missing the head of bright blonde, but forced it upside down immediately.

"Is Neji with you guys?" Tenten asked.

"Neji is probably coming with Hanabi," Hinata informed her. "It is his duty to protect her now..."

"That's right!" She sulked in disappointment.

"Why don't we go play some games, maybe we'll run into them later," suggested Sakura, a hand on Lee's arm.

The girls exchanged knowing glances and sly smiles. So Sakura was with Lee now, just as they thought. The pink haired girl had been adamantly denying the idea, but they knew her better than that.

"Let's get going then," Kiba sighed impatiently, itching to have a bit of fun.


Hinata stood aside and watched the others participate in a battle for prizes. A small smile played her lips as they yelled and cheered for every try.

"Lee, give me that!" Sakura exclaimed in frustration as she pushed him aside and won her own prize. "Can't even win me a little bear, can you?"

"Eh heh, sorry Hina-chan, this is all I could get."

Hinata suddenly paused and looked up into the woods. It wasn't too long before she found herself unconsciously slipping away from the group and heading down the dark shrouded path into the woods she knew was there.

Her slippers scratched against the dirt path until she reached a small stream with a small wooden bridge built over it. Stepping onto the wood, she turned and gazed at the view. The moonlight still reflected a dreamy shimmer on the water. And the vast amount of fireflies still flickered around the stream. Nothing had changed.

"You're just not here with me," Hinata spoke aloud, looking at the full moon in the clear sky. Her hands clutched her bag as she looked down at the charm that dangled from the handle. Ironically, a plastic, slit eyed fox stared back up at her.

"I told you that it was alright and I didn't need a prize, but you tried for me anyway. You caused all sorts or disaster," An amused smile graced her face. "I was very happy to recieve this from you, even if it is small. I treasure it."

She stayed there for a while longer, observing the area in peace before she thought of the others and decided to head back. It took her a while to relocate them, but she finally spotted them sitting at a table ahead of her. But just as she stepped forward, someone bumped her shoulder, sending Hinata stumbling until a hand reached out and steadied her from going any further.

"Sorry," came the mumbling voice.

"It's alright," Hinata smiled slightly at the Uchiha boy.

"Thinking about the dobe again?"

She looked at him with wide eyes and blinked, "I-"

"You always have the same stupid look on your face when you do," Sasuke sneered. "They won't be fooled by that fake smile of yours forever. It's been months, you need to move on."

"Y-yeah..." Hinata tilted her head down, intending to look at her feet. But something caught her eye. "What's that?"

There was a large black cat dangling from the black haired boy's grip. It had big yellow eyes and long whiskers.

"I was playing a few games and this is what they gave me," He looked down at it with a hint of digust. "Want it?"


The soft and squishy animal was already shoved into her arms before she could offer a reply.

"Che, I wouldn't be caught dead carrying that thing around," He crossed his arms and tilted his head toward their friends. "Let's go."

Hinata just nodded and followed him through the crowd. Neji and Hanabi had already joined the group as they snacked on a variety of food.

"Hinata, Sasuke!" Temari waved. "We've been looking all over for you, come here and eat!"

The two placed themselves at the vacant seats at the end of the table and nibbled on a few things in silence. Hinata glanced at the boy sitting beside her and genuinely smiled.

"Thank you, Sasuke-kun."

Sasuke looked at her curiously and shrugged, reaching for another rice ball. Hinata guessed it was his way of saying, 'You're welcome'.


author's notes: lol! i'm so sorry i took FOREVER updating, but I hit a writer's block on what to do next. thanks for the reviews.. again! thanks for the ideas too. i'll be sure to use them! or at least try. more are always welcome :o) but yeah, i'm trying to keep it at a fair pace in include everyone's suggestions.