It was cold. She rubbed her hands together to dispel some of it. The hour was too early to wake the birds or the animals. The moon had dipped down the horizon, leaving the stars to light up the rest of the sky. It's inky darkness was slowly being replaced by the steel gray until the sun rises to chase it away.
She sat down on the cool ground and hugged her knees. It was summer and the trees were truly green. A cool breeze ruffled her hair and she merely buried her face into her arms.
Hyuuga Hinata activated her Byakuugan and scanned the surroundings. There was no sign of activity yet. Was her information wrong?
Today was the day that a team would go to find Uchiha Sasuke. The rescue missions had stopped but recent activity in the forests at the west had indicated that the Sound was on the move again. And Sasuke was leading them. The Godaime had no choice but to send forward a team of scouts to investigate. The ANBU wasn't called for but the new chuunins.
The team included Uzumaki Naruto.
She let out a long sigh. Last time she had no chance of saying goodbye. She did not want to let him go again without bidding farewell. If that was the last time she saw him... She would not forgive herself.
Her father had prohibited her from leaving the Hyuuga compound because of her intensive trainings. It was a ritual to test the heiress if she was worthy. She had risked getting caught just for his departure.
But being banished was nothing compared to the pain of losing him.
She did not want to lsoe sight of him again.
A twig cracked. She immediately got up and scanned the area. The chakra was very familiar as it approached the gates.
He was right on time. She peeked from behind the tree and stared at him. At seventeen he'd gotten taller and more handsome, earning him a fan club of his own. He was an exceptional student and was a candidate for a Jounin after a few more years. The sennin who trained him was proud. Everyone was proud of him.
Naruto ceased being a follower and was now a leader.
He was leading this mission against his rival and friend.
It was going to be a hard battle. But he was more ready than before.
"Naruto-kun..." she whispered as she closed her eyes. She will miss him so much.
"Who's there?" Naruto called as he stared at the direction of the hyugs cherry tree. There was a silhouette but he wasn't sure of who it was. He took out a kunai and walked forward cautiously.
Unexpectedly the figure stepped out of the shadows and into the faint light.
His jaw dropped. "Hinata-chan!" he said, surprised.
She smiled. He recovered and returned her smile.
"I'm sorry if I startled you," said Hinata.
"Nah, it's okay," he replied.
An uneasy silence fell. He did not know what to say to this shy, dark-haired heiress. They were not so close but he was aware of the admiration she felt for him. He admired her too but he was not sure of what she really felt for him. She was so quiet, so shy, and so beautiful. He did not know how to deal with such beauty.
"I just came to say... goodbye." Hinata said. She tried to smile and failed.
Goodbye? "But we're coming back." He reassured her.
"No, I just want you to know. Sakura-san wouldn't make it here today. She's tired."
How much does it have to hurt?
Naruto's face fell. "Okay. Thanks."
A rooster crowed. The world was waking up. Soon the rest of the team would arrive. She'd better go before they do or else she would be caught. Her father would not be pleased.
She looked up again to the sky. "Akahaneru." She said softly.
A small smile graced her lips. "It means the darkness before the sun arrives."
"Oh, you mean dawn?"
He shrugged with a smile. She always managed to surprise him. It was a most pleasant feeling to stand here with her. It seemed that they were witnessing the world become alive again witht he departure of night.
Slowly, the sunshine painted the sky a lovely shade of pink with little streaks of orange. Soon enough the sun itself would rise.
Akahaneru, he repeated to himself. He stretched and took a deep breath of the cool morning air. It was a great time to be alive. The dawn was his mjost favorite time because it brought new hope with the new day.
Her heartbeats accelerated as she stared at him. The sunlight played in his hair and lent a soft gentle light that brought out the blue of his eyes. She didn't need to wonder why she loved him. She just did.
In so may ways they were almost the same. But he was too dense to notice it and she was too shy to acknowledge it. It was up to Fate as to how their paths will meet again. She lost him once and she did not want to lose him again. He mattered too much to her. Her heart and soul ached for him.
Hinata noticed that the sun was coming out.
It happened quickly. Before her courage deserted her, she ran forward and hugged him. He looked surprised but he he hugged her back. She was warm and soft and welcoming. It was like he just came home.
"Onegai... come back." Hinata whispered. Tears sprang into her eyes.
"I will." Naruto promised. She smelled like fresh jasmines. He did not know why but his heart was bursting with joy.
She let go of him and stepped back. But before she could widen their distance, he pulled her forward to him. Their lips met almost at the same time as the sun rose in the east. They were flooded with warm sunlight but neither noticed. The world melted around them as their souls connected.
They broke their kiss shakily. Their eyes stared into one another. What had prompted that mind-shattering kiss?
Maybe it was impulse. Or perhaps it was just that Fate made it happen.
Whatever it was, they were thankful.
She held a hand to her chest and felt her rapid heartbeats. It was beautiful, meaningful, soulful. Soul met soul at lover's lips... she smiled shyly. The best going away gift she'd ever given away. The most precious gift he'd ever recieved.
"Oi, Naruto! What time are we leaving!"
The voices of Kiba and Shikamaru rose in the air. It ended their last moment together.
"Remember," she said. The darkness comes before the dawn. Every time it comes it brings a new day, a new hope.
Their eyes met for the last time. They smiled as he touched her cheek gently before she moved away. The sun seemed to shine down on him directly. Her angel was her Naruto-kun.
Perhaps they would resolve this when he comes back. He will pursue it eagerly to come home to someone who mattered the world to him. He will learn how to treat her properly and love her more.
They smiled at each other.
He will remember.