Takes place before the Curse Seal was put in place. Inspired by scenes of 'A Tale of Two Sisters', a very good movie.
She'd had a nightmare.
Her breath came in short gasps, inhale, exhale, inhale, exhale, sharp and painful in her flat 3-year-old chest, pale skin coated in a layer of sweat. The white, laceless nightgown she wore clung to her skinny frame, fabric rippling as she took one step at time, two steps, three steps down the blurry hallway. She could hardly see, her head pounding with heartbeat and reeling with dizziness and nausea…
She nearly knocked him over as she stumbled.
When she looked back later, be it days or even years, she couldn't remember going into Neji's room (a place she hadn't been in since), but knew it looked similar to hers - tidy and white and almost overly immaculate.
But what she does remember clearly was the feel of the sheets against her legs, smooth and cool as Neji awkwardly pulled them over their small bodies and lay down beside her. His eyes were quizzical and curious as they ran over her face, all scrunched up from fear. Knees drawn halfway to her chest, she became suddenly aware of how much she was shaking.
Neji lifted his hand, almost an attempt to reach out to her with his small, childish fingers, but withdrew as she flinched, a soft squeak elicited from the raw insides of her throat.
"You're crying…" he said softly, though it came out louder than he meant it to in the quiet.
Hinata didn't respond, turning her face a bit more into the pillow and breaking her milky eyes from him. Wisps of short black hair clung to her cheek, another few sticking to her damp, pouted lips.
I'm not crying, I'm not…
"Are you…okay? Hinata?" Neji whispered again.
No reply. Only her breathing, inhale, exhale, gradually slowing, but still wavered and pained, and his in a completely different tempo, soft and controlled, and cold as it hit the brackish tearstains on her flushed cheeks.
"D-don't… don't t-tell my-my Daddy… okay?" she managed, trying to muffle a sniffle.
A little perplexed at this, Neji nodded. "Okay… but… why are you crying anyways? Did something happen?"
She shrugged one shoulder, raising a chubby hand to her mouth to suppress another cry.
"Like… was it a nightmare?"
At this, a distorted choke came out from between her baby-silk-soft fingers, and she nodded vigorously as she shifted forwards slightly into Neji and her hands grabbed at the material covering his chest. Slightly surprised, the boy stayed shock-still a few moments before letting his hands come forward to wrap around her abdomen, her sobs vibrating through his body as well.
She could remember it almost too painfully clearly; the way his hair tinged slightly blue from the dim light leaking in from the hall, and the smell of the pillows, and how long it seemed he held her there before finally her wails dimmed into slight whimpers, and soon even those were gone. She could no longer remember what had been in her dream that scared her so much in the first place as she was overrun with a feeling of comfort, of safe, of warm…
Long after Hinata had fallen asleep, Neji stayed awake, listening to their ever-constant rhythm of breath and heartbeat.
And at that moment he couldn't at all remember what made them so different in the first place…