After an embarrassing dinner where his father and aunt took turns teasing the stoic boy Shino escorted Hinata home, the butterfly still on her head. "Hinata-chan…?"
"Hmm? Yes Shino-kun?" She looked up at him. He turned his head away.
"This may be none of my business, but what did Naruto-kun say to you?" She looked at the ground, her eyes filling with tears. He took her hand and she smiled sadly.
"H-he said that I-I should stop following him… That he never liked me… That he would never like me as more than a friend and that no one would want to be in my life because of who my family is," she told him. Shino thought about this, it didn't sound anything like the Naruto they all knew.
"Hinata, I know this is hard, but could it have been someone else acting as Naruto-kun?" She looked up at him.
"Hmm? Why would someone do that?"
"I don't know, maybe someone didn't want you going after Naruto-kun anymore… Like say your father or Neji. Not that I'm blaming them, but could-"
"It couldn't have been Neji-nii-san… He-He supports me liking Naruto-kun…"
"Maybe your father, or someone who likes Naruto-kun as you do, sent someone to turn you away from liking him?" Hinata shook her head, not understanding if someone would actually do that to her. If someone didn't like that she liked Naruto, they could have said something to her face. "It's just that how you described Naruto-kun doesn't sound like the one we all know…" Hinata nodded.
"I didn't want to believe it either, but- Well he started out just talking to me, like we always do… Then he noticed me blushing and then started yelling at me, of how he would never like me and such… Maybe it's time I just let him go…" She looked up at the stars. "I've liked Naruto for so long that… Well… I don't know… Who am I without everyone knowing I like Naruto-kun?"
"You're a Hyuuga! You are a strong and important member to our team!" Shino stopped short and blushed. "Sorry…"
"Thank you, Shino-kun… I guess I do need to see the good things about myself…" With that she stopped in front of Hyuuga manor. "G-Goodnight, Shino-kun." She kissed his cheek softly. "Thank you for being my friend…" With that she went inside.
'Friend?' He thought. 'Maybe I am just a friend in her eyes… and that's all I want to be too…' With that he walked home. There he met his father, who had just seen his sister off to her own home, decided that he and his son were going to have a little one on one.
"Dad…" Shino started.
"Shino, it's time we had this talk. Now sit down…" Shino sat down on the couch and relaxed, he knew this was going to be a long little chat… "Let's start with why you brought your teammate home. You could have taken her anywhere, especially to her own home, yet you chose here. Why?"
"It was closer and I wanted to take her somewhere where someone would actually look after her… I don't think they particularly care for her at home…"
"Hmm, we all know of the pressure Hinata-chan is under…" His father agreed. "Now… Why your room? There is a nice little guest room right next to yours that you could have put her in…" Shino blushed at that.
"She was getting heavy and I didn't really think about it…"
"Gut instinct. Good… Now why don't you tell me about that butterfly that seemed glued to her?"
"When I laid her down it was beating at the window so I let it in… It automatically went to her…"
"And you know of our promise we have with the butterflies of the area?" Shibi asked looking at his son, waiting for and answer.
"Promise?" Shino looked at his father, confused.
"Yes, when an Aburame falls in love, weather he knows it or not, a butterfly promise is made. The butterfly will stay with that girl until the Aburame tells her of his feelings…"
"So…" Shino began, realizing what his father was getting at.
"Yes, you have feelings for the Hyuuga heir… Now I'll let you get to bed and think about what's going on in that head of yours," with that Shino's father left him to go upstairs to his bedroom, missing his wife just then.
The next day dawned to a clear sky and a light heart. Hinata felt better than she had ever in her life. Letting go of her feelings for Naruto somehow made her feel free, like liking him was somehow a chore. As if she had been bound to liking him for the rest of her natural existence. Now she couldn't wait to get to practice and work her new light body.
She dressed quickly and ran downstairs for breakfast. Neji, Hanabi, and her father were already eating when she joined them. "Good morning father, Neji-nii-san, Hanabi-chan," she said happily, bowing to her father before sitting down. Everyone stared at her. She just smiled in response.
"I saw that Aburame with you last night, Hinata," her father said. Hinata nodded.
"Hai, Shino-kun helped me yesterday then walked me home," she said as her breakfast was served. She dug in with delight at her favorite: hotcakes and sausage. Her father nodded, then stood and left, Hanabi following him for their daily lessons. Neji stared at his cousin.
"Why do you seem so happy Hinata-chan?" Truly perplexed.
"I don't know, it's just as if something has been lifted from my shoulders… I must go! I'll be late, and Kiba gets testy when we're late…" With that she downed her juice and ran out the door. Neji blinked, she hadn't stuttered once all morning.
Neko: Well that's it for today; please continue to R+R!