FORWARD: This little story came to me one day, and I thought it would be quick and easy to write. Weeks later, I still hadn't managed to get the first paragraph to look right. But, it's finished now and I'm happy to post it as an early Christmas gift to you all.
While the Hyuga clan were known as one of the most powerful and fearsome clans within the Konohagakure, the first daughter of the clan was known for the opposite, being the most fragile and shy child ever to set foot within the primary school. She never spoke up during classes, and never played with any of the other children during break. Each morning, she would be dropped off by her father, and she would hide in a corner of the playground until class started, looking terrified of everyone around her, especially of one boy. She'd heard her father say he was a 'devil', and he had told her never to go near him. The boy with the blonde hair, who just now strode into the school. Hinata often wondered, like a child would, why he walked all alone to the school? Her daddy, busy as he was, always took her and waved goodbye, all the other boys and girls walked up, hand in hand with their mummies and daddies, getting goodbye waves and hugs, but he didn't. He would just walk in, sometimes singing loudly to himself, and Hinata would always make sure he didn't see her. He was always noisy, and sometimes played pranks on the teacher and, her daddy did say he was a devil. Hinata was very scared of this boy, but that all changed.
During interval, the children would all go outside. Some chased each other around, some sat and talked, and others, for lack of games to play, made them up. But Hyuga Hinata simply found a corner to hide in and sat and waited for it to be over. Walking out into the grounds, she noticed, for the first time, a solitary swing hanging from a tree. The 6 year old girl smiled brightly (in a small way) it looked fun and she wouldn't have to talk to anyone. Making her way towards it, she moved quickly, avoiding people until she reached the shade of the tree, the sunlight dappling through the leaves, creating patterns on herself and the grass. With her smile still on her face, she pulled herself onto the broad wooden seat, her feet dangling above the grass. Wrapping her hands around the coarse rope, she took a moment to try and work out how to make the big swing move, when a voice made her turn around.
"What are you doing here?"
The girl's face froze in an expression that could be considered terrified. There, right behind her, with a face of mild confusion, was that boy, the one she wasn't supposed to go near, the bad boy, the devil boy.
"Are you gonna call me names?" he asked, looking almost timid.
Hinata was very taken aback, and was completely unsure of how to react (not that at 6 years old she was capable of giving it much thought). The boy, who was supposed to be mean and scary, looked almost afraid of her. And when you're a 6 year old Hyuuga Hinata, having anyone being afraid of you is a very alien concept. Finding that she couldn't speak (which was all too common for the timid child) Hinata settled with shaking her head to indicate a no.
The boy's reaction startled her, as his face suddenly brightened. His brightly clad form seemed to grow brighter as a certain kind of hope filled him.
"Are you gonna play with me?" he asked, taking a step closer, his cerulean eyes shimmering, as his fondest wish seemed to come within his grasp.
Hinata was very confused, for several reasons. In the first, she hadn't expected the devil boy to be so friendly towards her, she had expected him to try and eat her, rather than ask to play with her. In the second, she was shocked that anyone would ever ask her to play with them. Part of her cried out not to, to do what do what her father had told her and stay away. But another part, the lonely sad part that wanted to have a friend just as much as this boy did cried out louder for the first time in her life.
And she said yes.
And the boy hugged her.
The hug came with a whooping cry, as joy filled the young boy up. Someone wanted him around, someone wanted to be his friend and play with him! And all Hinata could do was blush.
"You have funny eyes." The boy smiled, letting her go. "I like them."
For the most part, she had fun. The boy pushed her on the swing, and talked to her. Telling her about strange things he'd seen, and funny things he'd done. She really just listened, speaking about herself whenever asked, but still to shy to volunteer anything. But, she had fun, and she was happy. And when you don't have fun, or be happy very often, this makes for a very good day.
The two had walked back into the class chubby hand in chubby hand. Hinata blushed and smiled softly, chewing on the collar of her pinafore every so often as she looked at her new friend, who bounced happily beside her. They sat side by side in class, and her friend didn't make any rude noises at the teacher like he usually did, he would just smile at her and ask her to explain things he didn't understand, or tell her a joke that would make her smile when he thought the teacher wasn't listening.
When lunchtime came, they decided to sit together. Hinata had a packed lunch one of her daddy's maids had prepared for her, so she went to get a table, while her friend stood, rapidly falling asleep, in the slow moving queue. Plopping her tiny form down on the miniature bench, she poked the fiddly plastic straw through the carton of her juice on the third attempt. Just before she could begin sipping at the tasty stuff inside (which she had privately wondered about how it got in there in the first place) someone pushed her, knocking her off the bench, away from the table, her juice, and her lunch, and onto the grassy ground.
An older child stood over her, and began yelling things at her. It was a long time before Hinata understood why many children at the school didn't like her, but when she was six, she could never understand. She knew here Daddy could shout a lot, and be mean sometimes, but he wasn't a bad Daddy, so why did people never seem to like him? And why were they mean to her because of it. She didn't get long to think about it, as the older child kicked her in the sides, her young body, at this point very vulnerable to pain which training would eventually wean out of her, shook with the blow, and tears sprang to her pearl eyes and she began crying. Through her own cries, her young mind registered the other children chanting 'Fight! Fight! Fight!', and through tear stained eyes, she watched as the older child approached, only to be stopped by a smaller form burling into him from behind.
"LEAVE MY FRIEND ALONE!"
Clinging to her painful side, Hinata watched as her friend now stood between her and the older child. But he was every so different. He was no longer smiling, or scared. He was angry, and it showed. The entire crowd, still chanting, backed off a little, and some left, running to fetch a teacher. With a feral cry, her friend launched himself at her assailant, punching and clawing wildly at him, while the older child struck back viciously, though her friend seemed not to feel anything, unlike his target who cried out as jaws set in on his arm. Hinata could see why her father had called him a devil as he growled and struck at his foe again and again. She should have been scared, she should have cried harder, but she didn't. She was crying less, and she felt, safe, and something else.
No-one had ever stood up for her before. Her family had always pushed its members to stand on their own feet, no matter how cruel it meant you had to be, and Hinata, being so shy and timid, struggled under this regime, and came to believe that no-one would ever help her, and became more afraid than before. And now, this devil boy, this small boy she'd known only a day was fighting like a beast to protect her.
The crowd suddenly dispersed, retreating to safety, as the Teacher approached, her eyes lit with a deadly fire. Hinata watched as her friend's opponent took the chance to scamper back, clutching the bite marks on his arm. She thought the teacher came to help them, but before she could say anything through the sobs that still racked her body, she saw her friend getting seized by the ear, yanked painfully, forcing his face to scrunch up and his toes to point to match his new height.
"YOU LITTLE WRETCH!" The teacher continued to scream. "I DON'T KNOW WHY THE HOKAGE LETS YOU COME HERE AMONG NORMAL CHILDREN."
Hinata, with tear filled eyes, watched in confusion. Why was the teacher yelling at her friend? Why was she being some mean? Helpless, she watched as the little Naruto was dragged off, cussing and yelping as his ear was tugged upon harder with each step the teacher took. The elder child, unnoticed by all, huddled off, tears streaking down his face and his pride and body hurting, but smiling smugly as his enemy was pulled away.
Hinata waited for Naruto after school that day, but her friend never came out with the other children, and she hadn't seen him in their last lessons. She found out from another girl that he had been taken out of the class, and would be staying behind to do extra work. She said it was what he desereved, for being such a bad boy. This made Hinata mad, but she was to timid to do anything, and so, rather shamefully, she thanked the girl and walked off.
Groaning and grumbling, and nursing a black eye, little Naruto made his way through the empty corridors, head down and sulking. He'd been having his first really good day ever, and now it was ruined. Opening the door, he saw a small green pot sitting on the ground before him, steam rising from the contents. He looked around, seeing if anyone had left it there.
"ANYONE PUT A STEAMY CUP HERE!" His little voice cried out as big as it could.
As no-one came rushing out to yell at him about it, he shrugged his shoulders and picked, clutching it with both of his little hands. He then saw the piece of paper underneath. Placing the pot back down again, he lifted it up and looked at the handwriting, neater than most of those who write with a bright pink crayon, that lay across the folded sheet. The words 'Thank you' were written there. Smiling, Naruto folded it back up and placed it within his green frog backpack and once again picked up the green pot. Taking a sniff of the contents, he picked the little plastic fork off the side and tentatively lifted one of the long strings out form within, and placed it within his mouth, chewing to draw out the juices and allow him to gather the new taste. A broad smile spread across his face as the sensation delighted him, and so he began walking home, pressing the pot close against his body to keep it from falling as he drew out the ramen with the little plastic fork.
Hidden away around the corner of the building, Hinata watched. She felt too guilty to go out and see him, blaming herself for him getting in trouble, and guilty that she couldn't find something nicer to give him. She had plenty of money, and she wanted to find something nice to say thank-you, but all she could find was a little Ramen stand. But, he seemed to like it so that was okay. Taking one last look at the retreating blond figure, Hinata began to walk away too, going to where her daddy would come and collect her. She really liked her new friend, but she didn't want to speak to him again…not just yet. He had helped her when she was in trouble, and when he was in trouble she had just sat their crying. She decided to become tough like he was, so that she would be able to protect him from anyone who was mean to him, and so that no-one would ever be mean to her again either.
14 years later, Hinata sits. She had failed to become 'tough'. She remained soft, and still rather shy and timid. But she was able to protect Naruto from those who were mean to him. She wasn't sure how it happened, but at some point they had started spending a lot of time together, and then dating. And after Hinata was denounced as heir to the Hyuuga clan, her sister being the one chosen to replace her, living together.
Her memories of that day had been sparked while searching for socks of all things. Winter days brought cold weather, and deeming her own socks unfit for the job of keeping her feet warm, decided to borrow a set of Naruto's to put over them. Rooting through the draws on his side of the bed, she found a small, warn, folded piece of paper, with 'Thank you' written on it, in handwriting which was neat for having been written by a six year old. With one hand clasped to her mouth, tears welling in her eyes, and her throat choking up, she stared at the note from her childhood, hearing her love enter behind her, she whirled and ran up, embracing his confused form and holding him tight.
"Thank you." She whispered to him.
"What for?" he asked confused, wondering what nice thing he could have possibly done.
"I-I never said it properly before." She admitted her face going red.
Spying the note, Naruto understood, and kissed her softly, and embraced her lovingly. The two lonely children, together again as adults, shielding each other from those who would look down on them.
There are two times Hinata could clearly remember saying 'yes' to something Naruto asked her to do. The was that day long ago, when he asked if she would play with him. The second was that evening, when he asked if she would marry him.
Happily Ever Afters
AFTERWARD: This story came to me as I wondered, 'why exactly does Hinata have a crush on Naruto?' I thought this, because despite the reasons that float around, due to the prejudice instilled in the children of Konohagakura by their parents, I wondered why she would pay any attention to him in the first place, then this little idea came to me, of two lonely children, and I wrote it up. I also took advantage of the chance to put in the first time Naruto tasted Ramen. I wanted to give him a line about it, but felt it would ruin the nice sappy mood.
Take care, and remember to chase your own 'happily ever afters'.