Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto. If I did, Hinata and Sasuke would get together. But since they're not together, that means I don't own Naruto, obviously. Duhh.

A/N. Hey everyone! It's me again, back from the dead with a new story, even though -fidgets- I should have updated Clashing Hearts. I'm so sorry about that. -hangs head- I have writer's block on that story, but hopefully, I'll think of something soon. :) This year, I'm taking drama, so I'll have a good idea of what to write for the drama scenes. :D

Sakura isn't a female dog in this fanfic. I decided to be nice to her for once, so Sakura is nice and she's friends with Hinata and Ino. Goody. :D

Anyway, I based this story on Tsuda Masami's The Tiger and the Chameleon. When I first read it, I thought, "Hey, this girl (Koharu Mizumoto, the main character) reminds me of me!" because sadly, I'm not very attractive and mean jerks tend to point that out. T.T I'm somewhat like Hinata, and since Koharu reminded me of myself, it made me think that it was a good idea to base Hinata off of Koharu. I always thought Hinata was the ideal "shy-lonely-girl-who-gets-picked-on" person.

Then when I came across the part where Koharu blushed and stammered before/during/while introducing herself, I'm like, "Whoa! She's like Hinata! O.O" Well, there are more ways Koharu is like Hinata, but I really don't want to spoil it for you if you haven't read it. You SHOULD read it, though! It's a good short story:D

And the main character dude (I forgot his name xD) somewhat reminds me of Sasuke...a nicer, sweeter version of Sasuke, anyway. xD

It's not that I have to worry about flamers because I rarely get flames, but I just feel like saying this. No flames, please, but I accept constructive critizism.

Ahem...-clears throat- When I say constructive critizism, I mean regarding anything but the plot of the story itself, the characters, or anything else relating to that, like "This is a cliché plot!" or "There's too much OOCness!" or "The romance is so slow! Hurry it up!" I get really annoyed when I get reviews like that, because, frankly, I don't consider that constructive critizism. I consider it a mere complaint that the person makes, hoping that I would change my story to meet their circumstances. Please don't give me any reviews like that. I'll be fine with you pointing out any grammar errors or anything like that, but please don't make any remarks, polite or not, about anything I listed above.

Also, yes, the romance is this story will be slow, just like Clashing Hearts, so don't ask me "Why is it taking so long for them to fall in love with each other?" or "Is this a SasuHina?" or anything like that. Really, would you think that it would be -BOOM- "I LOVE YOU, HINATA!" and "OH, I LOVE YOU, TOO, SASUKE!"?

I don't think so.

Sorry, I don't mean to be rude and mean to those of you who have done that, but it just gets on my nerves. I'm happy with all of the support you guys have given me, but sometimes, I feel like banging my head whenever people ask or say the same...annoying things over and over. Please, cut this poor, young authoress some slack. D:

...Whewww. I'm finally done. :D Please don't feel offended by my rant up there and start flaming me for it. If you really do feel obliged to complain about it, however, you may just send me a private message.

Again, many thanks to those who supported me during the time I wrote my other SasuHina stories. Lastly, I hope you read, enjoy, and review Key to My Heart. :D



A shrill hiss erupted loudly as the doors of the bus swung open. Hyuuga Hinata took off her blue-rimmed glasses, wiped the lenses quickly, and looked up. She gulped as she stared out the window, her pearl eyes wide with awe.

"I-it's huge!" Her jaw lowered and her mouth hung open in a large O as her eyes took in the large building that was Konoha Academy. The courtyard was streaming with students, who were laughing and chattering endlessly.

"Yep. Don't worry, you won't get lost," the bus driver said carelessly, glancing briefly at the school. "Been here myself years ago. Well, off you go, Hun."

"Th-thank you." Hinata smiled at the plump woman, bowed respectfully, and hobbled off, a bit queasy from the ride. She had never rode a bus to school before, but issues arose at home, and it was decided that she would take the bus to school from now on.

But the butterflies in her stomach were only partially the bus ride's fault. She was more nervous about high school. What awaited her there?

She surveyed the courtyard hesitantly, unsure of what to do at the moment. Students were flowing into the courtyard, reuniting with friends and discussing their summer and the classes they would have for the year. Hinata bit her lip anxiously, gazing around. It seemed as if she would stay there forever, biting her lip and looking around for a sign that would trigger her out of her trance. Her eyes lit up when she heard someone calling her name.

"Hinata-chan! Hinata-chan!" Yamanaka Ino and Haruno Sakura shouted in unison.

Hinata spotted Ino and Sakura standing on the other side of the courtyard. Ino, her blonde hair tied up into a ponytail that bounced and gleamed in the sunlight, had her hand cupped over her mouth while her other hand waved frantically in the air to catch her attention. Sakura's light pink locks danced in the breeze as she jumped up and down, waving her hand as frantically as Ino.

Hinata rushed up to them and smiled brightly. "Good morning!" she greeted softly.

"Good morning," Sakura responded, smiling happily.

"Good morning. By the way, Hinata-chan..." Ino cocked her head slightly to the side. "I never knew you took the bus."

"Um...well, something came up," Hinata explained awkwardly, "and I have to take the bus from now on..."

Ino sighed. "That's too bad. Buses aren't very pleasant transporations." Her blue orbs enlightened. "If you want, I can take you to school each morning," she offered.

Hinata shook her head and smiled. "That's all right," she reassured kindly.

"Hey, Ino-chan," Sakura called. "Let's go check our schedules!"

"Okay!" Together, the three went off to take a look at their schedules. There was a large crowd there, and it was difficult to try and squeeze through to get a close look at their schedules. Finally, Sakura managed to squirm through and read their schedules.

"Ino-chan! We're in the same class!" she proclaimed, managing to escape from the crowd.


"Hinata-chan, you, too!"

"Cool!" Ino beamed happily.

"I'd worry if you were alone, Hinata-chan," Sakura commented with a smile. Ino nodded in agreement.

"I'm so excited," Hinata blushed.

"Oh! We have to go to the gym when the bell rings!" Sakura said out of the blue.

"Eh? Why?" Ino asked curiously.

"There was a piece of paper next to the schedules, and it said so," Sakura said shortly. "There's going to be a school entrance ceremony."

The three girls walked out of the classroom and went back to the school courtyard. Just as they entered -


"Oh, no..." Sakura groaned and made a face, glaring at the blonde boy that was rushing up to her at that moment. "It's Naruto..."she mumbled under her breath.

"Is he still crushing on you?" Ino shook her head in dismay.

"Afraid so."

Uzumaki Naruto skidded to a stop in front of the three girls. "Hey, Sakura-chan!" he grinned goofily. "You're looking as cute as ever! Wanna go out on a date with me?"

"For the last time...I REFUSE TO GO OUT WITH A LOSER LIKE YOU!" Sakura's fist came crashing down on his head. "I ABSOLUTELY REFUSE!" Sakura screeched.

"O-owwww!" Naruto whined, holding his head, which had a very big bump on it. "Why did you do that for, Sakura-chan?"

"What part of 'I refuse to go out with a loser like you' don't you understand, Naruto?" Sakura demanded angrily.

"Uhhh..." Naruto scratched his head. "What do you mean, Sakura?"


Ino smirked. "I think you busted so much of his brain cells whenever you hit him," Ino remarked, "so now, he's like...just plain stupid."


"He's always been stupid, though!" Sakura hissed to Ino.

"Owww...that's a large bump," Naruto said out loud, his hand running over the swollen skin upon his head. While Naruto was rubbing his head, he finally noticed Hinata. "Hey, Hinata-chan!" he smiled.

Hinata shrunk back and a feeble smile crept onto her lips. "Oh...h-h-hi..." she murmured quietly, the color draining out of her face. She turned and stared sadly at the ground.

Naruto rubbed his head. "Well...later, hot stuff!" he grinned at Sakura, giving her an energetic wave before leaving.

Sakura ignored him and stared at Hinata hard. She leaned towards Ino and, cupping her hand over her mouth, whispered, "Hinata-chan is acting like that. Again...!"

Ino nodded, frowning. "I know," she whispered back. "She started acting all strange last year after summer vacation. She's like...it's like...I don't know, it seems as if something about Naruto bothers her."

Sakura nodded. "But what could it be?" Sakura wondered. "I don't remember Naruto making her mad or anything."

"Me neither." Ino sighed.

"Should we ask?" Sakura asked, biting her lower lip anxiously.

"I guess so, but you know...I think she might say it's nothing." Ino sighed again.

It wouldn't hurt, Sakura decided. "Hinata-chan, are you okay?" Sakura called to Hinata.

"H-huh?" Hinata turned back, blinking in surprise. "O-oh...yes, yes I am," she answered quickly. "Why do you ask?"

"Oh...you just seemed...troubled about something. You're not, are you?" Sakura asked worriedly.

"You seem really upset. You could tell us, you know," Ino said in concern.

Hinata shook her head. "I'm okay...really," she said reassuringly.

"If you say so," Sakura said doubtfully, shrugging and exchanging glances with Ino.

Hinata turned her head to stare off into the distance, feeling slightly awkward and uncomfortable in the empty silence that followed. Trying to start a conversation, she casually asked, "W-what have you two done over the summer?"


"Ino-chan? Sakura-chan?"


Hinata turned, startled to see that her friends were no longer there. "H-huh?" she murmured in confusion. Where could those two have gone?

Hinata squinted her eyes and scanned the crowd. When she caught the familiar glint of blonde and pink hair, she almost sighed as she immediately realized what was going on from the expressions on their faces. Dreamy, sugar-coated smiles stretched from ear to ear as stars sparkled within their eyes. That could only mean one thing.

"OH MY GOSH, IT'S SASUUUUKE-KUN!" Screams erupted from the courtyard as loudly as a mini bomb. Girls threw themselves onto a pale, dark-haired boy who had just entered the school courtyard.





Hinata sighed inwardly. Uchiha Sasuke...the perfect boy of every girl's dream. What was there to fuss about? She wasn't very interested, but she had to know. What did they see in Sasuke? She wanted to know the traits everyone loved about him so she could try to see if those traits were within herself as well.

She had asked Sakura and Ino one day, but she still couldn't see what was so great about him.


"I was just wondering...why do you like Uchiha-san?" she asked nonchalantly, cocking her head to the side.

Ino and Sakura stared at her, as if she had just asked them what color their hair was. "Are you crazy, Hinata?" Ino exclaimed.

"You should be asking us why we shouldn't like him," Sakura chimed in. "He's perfect! He's cute, athletic..." The dreamy, sappy look was starting to form upon their faces.

"He's smart, he's cool..." Ino and Sakura started to name all of the great things about Sasuke, but usually listed the same thing that they had just said the minute before. Hinata's eyelids drooped, but she tried to stay alert and interested in what they had to say (and they had a LOT to say) about Sasuke.

"Oh, and did I mention that he's hot? He's sooooo cool!" Sakura squealed.

"Totally!" Ino agreed. "I'm going to win his heart someday!" she vowed happily.

"Excuse me?" Sakura snapped. "You win his heart? Ha! As if! That will happen the day when...when Naruto gets a brain!"

"Hey!" Ino growled angrily. She quickly regained her composure. "Then I'll make sure Naruto gets a brain soon!" she said smugly.

"I don't think so!"

The two started to bicker and argue, and Hinata slipped away with an inward sigh.


Hinata stared glumly at the ground, leaning against the thick trunk of a tree. Did good-looking people always deserve attention and respect, even if they were not beautiful on the inside? Were ugly people worthless and so pathetic that they had to be denied the respect they wanted, even if their soul was pure?

Looks. That was everything, wasn't it? Everyone judged you on your looks. If you're good-looking, people like you. If you are ugly, people disregard you.

Sasuke was one of those lucky people born with a pretty face. Hinata was one of those unlucky people born with an ugly face.

People, mostly boys, always called her ugly. What was so ugly about her? She had asked herself that, and each time, she looked into a mirror or her reflection in a lake. Was it because of her glasses? Was it because of her rather short, uninteresting hair? Was it because of her sad, small mouth? Or was it because of her abnormal eyes, which were as pale as the moon in the night sky?

She couldn't find anything wrong with her. But since everyone said she was ugly, she was, indeed, ugly. Yes, she would think sadly, I am ugly.

She had dorky glasses, dull hair, lifeless lips, and freaky eyes. Sadly, she could see why everyone thought she was ugly.

Ino and Sakura were her only comfort. They were her best friends...her only friends.

While everyone else laughed at her and called her ugly, they were the ones who stayed by her side. Because of that, she loved them both dearly, but they were one of the few people she truly trusted and loved. She refused to trust anyone but them because she was afraid that they would just mess with her feelings, turn everything all around, and making fun of her to gain satisfaction from her misery.

They never commented on how ugly her face was. Once, she had asked them how she looked, and they had automatically answered, "You're cute, of course!"

Hinata had believed that for a short time...that is, until the next day, a rather popular, good-looking boy came up to her and called her ugly.

Since then, she dare not believe what Sakura and Ino told her. Of course, she thought bitterly. They wouldn't tell her bluntly, "You're ugly!"

Once, she had confronted them with how she felt, way before she asked them what their opinions were on how she looked. However, she made them think that her feelings were someone else's.

"Umm...Sakura, Ino? I need to talk to you..."

"Uh, sure." Sakura smiled.

"Go ahead." Ino smiled as well.

"Well, a friend of mine - "

"Who? Do we know this friend of yours?" Sakura inquired curiously.

"U-um, no. S-she...we were childhood friends, but she moved away."

"Ahh, I see. Go on," Ino urged.

Hinata took a deep breath. "W-well, people always made fun of her," she explained," even though she didn't do anything wrong. She was r-really nice...but she wasn't very attractive. She was always sad because people called her...u-ugly. What do you think would make her feel better?"

Sakura tapped her chin. "Wellll..." Sakura said slowly. "I guess...my advice would be that she shouldn't listen to them. I mean, the people who tease her are just a bunch of jerks, that's all. I bet she's really pretty, though, but they just want to be mean though."

Ino nodded. "Yeah. That's what I was going to say, too. See," she explained,"if you let people get to you like that, you won't ever love yourself. You'll keep thinking that you are what they think you are. Welll...it's kind of hard to explain," she shrugged sheepishly and smiled, "but I hope that helps your friend."

"I-it did." Hinata smiled. "T-thank you."

She had felt better after that, but it was meaningless the following day.

Would they have any reason to call her ugly if she wasn't ugly at all? If she was beautiful, they wouldn't taunt her. It was her fault for being ugly...her fault.

How could she love herself when no one else did? It was impossible. Sakura and Ino's words had sounded so wise and true...but they just turned out to be meaningless and untruthful.

What did they know about how she felt? They were popular, well-known, and pretty. How Hinata envied them. What she wouldn't give for Sakura's large, green eyes, or Ino's light blue ones. She would do anything for the long, pretty hair that the boys sighed over. How she wished she had Sakura's cute giggle, or Ino's gorgeous smile.

Hinata sighed inwardly and her eyes deepened with sadness.


The bell's shriek drowned out the screams of Sasuke's fangirls. Without bothering to wait for Ino and Sakura (since it would take them forever to tear themselves away from the great Uchiha Sasuke,) Hinata walked glumly to the gym.


Even though the bell had just rung, most of the girls still did not leave him alone. Sasuke grimaced as he tried to push his way through the crowd of girls.

Dangit, he cursed inwardly. How was he supposed to escape from these clingy girls?

His eyes enlightened ever so slightly as he caught the words BOYS' BATHROOM upon two green doors nearby. He gathered up his strength and shoved several girls aside as he broke away and ran.


Away from you, he wanted to shout back at them. What does it look like?


No, thanks, he wanted to yell back.


Ugh, give me a break, he wanted to scoff.

However, he didn't feel like wasting any more energy on these lame girls. Summer just had to end so quickly, he thought bitterly. Now he would have to put up with them for another year...and another year...and another.

Good grief.

He pushed open the doors of the bathroom and leapt in, breathing heavily as he leaned against the wall near the first stall. He listened carefully, and to his relief, he heard sighs of disappointment and footsteps disappearing.

Good, he mused. Now, he needed to get to his classroom without being seen...


Sasuke's eyes widened, and he cursed inwardly. He was late! Curse those stupid girls!

Hopefully, the teacher would let him go. After all, it was the first day of school. However, he thought darkly as he rushed out the bathroom, this wasn't a good way to start it.


As the new students entered the gym, the older students and adults took their seats and gave a big round of applause. Hinata looked around, a little uncertain of what to do.

"There you are!"

Sakura and Ino rushed up to Hinata. "We've been all over the gym for you!" Sakura panted. "It was really crowded, so it was hard to find you."

Hinata smiled weakly. "I'm sorry."

"It's no problem. Just tell us where you're going before you leave next time, okay?"


"Hey! The ceremony is going to start! I think we should sit down!" Ino suggested. Hinata and Sakura nodded in agreement and the three sat down in the middle row.

A blonde woman - supposedly the headmistress - stepped up and held up a hand. Gradually, the room grew quiet.

"Good morning. My name is Saionji Tsunade. I am the headmistress of Konoha High. Today, we welcome the new students. Let's give a round of applause for them, shall we?"

The audience clapped loudly and whistled. Tsunade held up her hand again to silence the auditorium. She then spoke for a few more minutes before the homeroom teachers were introduced. After that, a few of the older students made a welcoming address, encouraging the new students to have an enjoyable school year.

Hinata gulped and looked down at her wringing hands. I…I hope this year will be…a good one.


Sasuke stared at the door of the gym. Applause could be heard from within. He sighed inwardly. If he went in, he'd cause an uproar. He didn't want to deal with any more girls.

If he waited outside the gym until the ceremony was over, it wouldn't be any better. Once the girls caught sight of him, they'd chase him down.

Grudgingly, he went back to the bathroom. It was near his homeroom, anyway. When the ceremony was over and everyone was in their homerooms, only then would he come out.

He took out his wallet and withdrew a small photo. He stared at the photo and a longing smile crept along his lips.


5 Minutes Later...

After the raven-haired teacher in the front of the classroom took roll call, she sent a student to deliver the paper before turning to face her class.

"Good morning, class," Yuhi Kurenai proclaimed, fixing a nonchalant gaze upon her pupils. "Hmm," she paused and her lips curled into a small smile, "shall we introduce ourselves? I am Yuhi Kurenai, and I will be your math teacher this year. I see we have some familiar faces here." She smiled at those she had taught back at Kumo Middle School. Hinata smiled weakly back, somewhat reassured by Kurenai's smile.

Kurenai began to go over the classroom rules and other things that teachers go over on the first day of school. After she finished explaining everything, which only took about three minutes, she tapped her chin thoughtfully, as if wondering what she should say next. Finally, she spoke.

"Students, please stand up and introduce yourselves when I call on you."

Hinata's eyes widened in horrified shock. Oh, no...she absolutely hated this kind of stuff!

Her eyes met Kurenai's crimson ones, pleading with her not to continue with this. Kurenai was a friend of the Hyuuga family, and she knew very well about Hinata's shyness. Hopefully, she wouldn't allow Hinata to do this.

Kurenai smiled reassuringly, and Hinata's heart sank as she read the look in her eyes. I'm really sorry, but this is for your own good, Hinata.

The teacher looked straight at a pretty girl at the far end of Hinata's row. The girl's dark brown hair was tied back into two buns, and her hazel eyes clearly told everyone that she was praying for Kurenai to ignore her and pick someone else. "We shall start with you. Please introduce yourself."

The girl swallowed and stared nervously back at her.

"Come to the front of the classroom, please, and speak in a loud, clear voice."

She slowly rose to her feet and walked to the front of the classroom. She stared down at her feet. "Umm...what do I say?" she asked sheepishly.

"Whatever you wish. Your likes, dislikes, hobbies, dreams..."

The girl shuffled her feet and swallowed again. "That's it?" she asked quietly.

"That's it, unless you wish to say more."

Hinata's eyes softened as she watched the girl fidget and swallow again. How terrifying. Hinata shivered. It was really hard for shy people like her to speak aloud like this. She felt sorry for that girl.

"Um, okay." The girl cleared her throat. "Umm...my name is Tsuda Tenten. I like...Chinese food and sesame dumplings, and I dislike pickled plums. My hobby is astrology, and my dream...well, I don't really have one yet. And...I guess that's about it." Her shoulders bobbed underneath her shirt in an embarrassed shrug.

"Thank you, Tenten." After Tenten bowed and sat back down, Kurenai called on the next person. This kept on going until she came to Hanazakari Erika, a sulking, red-haired girl next to Ino. By now, the pale-eyed Hyuuga was sweating heavily and swallowing occasionally.

Ino, who was next to Hinata, was called on. Just two more people, Hinata thought fearfully. Ino, Sakura...then it was her turn.

"Hi! I'm Yamanaka Ino. It's nice to meet you guys." The smile that Ino sometimes liked to use to dazzle people crept onto her lips. "I like tomatoes, pudding, flowers, cute guys like," her smile widened as she clasped her hands together and sighed dreamily, "Uchiha Sasuke."

Many girls mumbled under their breaths, while guys who thought Ino was pretty sighed glumly under their breath.

"I dislike bugs, the color pink," she ignored the glare Sakura shot her," spicy foods, and annoying people. My hobby is ikebana and shopping. My dream is...to become Uchiha Ino!"


Several people fell out of seats, the way people would fall when they're struck silly with something lame.

Ino laughed. "Just kidding." Not really. "My dream is...I guess to hone my ikebana skills and," her eyes enlightened, "to help shy people gain more confidence!" she finished rather seriously.

Hinata's eyes enlarged behind her blue-rimmed glasses.

"Thank you. You may sit down," Kurenai nodded. After Ino bowed, she walked down the aisle and flashed Hinata a reassuring smile before taking her seat. Hinata smiled back. It was times like these that she truly appreciated her friendship with Ino.

Sakura made her way to the front and fixed her green eyes upon her classmates. She smiled brightly. "Hi. My name is Haruno Sakura. I like syrup-coated dumplings, pickled ume fruits, and..." Here, she paused to hold her hands to her cheeks in an attempt to hide her blush. She giggled dreamily. "Uchiha Sasuke!"

There was an uproar from the girls again, and Sakura's admirers banged their heads on their desk in defeat. Naruto mumbled under his breath, "It's always about Sasuke! Grrr...that stupid bas - "

"I hate spicy foods, bugs," Sakura continued on, "frogs, and," immediately, Sakura's sugar-coated smile disappeared, and her sparkly eyes turned to angry slits, "Uzumaki Naruto!"



Naruto fell out of his seat. "Nooooo," he moaned, writhing and rolling around on the floor and clutching his head. "She hates me! Whyyyy?"

Ignoring him, Sakura sighed and went on hurriedly. "My hobby is memorizing things..."

"...AND BEATING THE CRAP OUT OF NARUTO!" Inner Sakura cut in, punching the air with her large fists. "OH, YEAHHH!"

"My dream is to," she proclaimed happily, instantly blushing yet again, "steal Sasuke's heart!"

The class groaned. What a typical dream.

Naruto banged his head on his desk. "Noooo..." he moaned again. "Why doesn't she want to steal my heart? It's not faiiirr..."

"Umm...another dream I have is to become a doctor and help sick people...I guess." Sakura shrugged ruefully. "And I think I might want to become a matchmaker someday...you know, getting people together!" The pink-haired girl grinned to emphasize her giddiness.

Silence. Stares.

Sakura's smile wavered. "W-well..." she stammered. She brightened again. "It's the love of a lifetime, y'know!" she giggled.

"CHYEAH!" Inner Sakura hooted.

"Umm...thank you, Sakura." Kurenai tried to smile. "You may sit down now." She sighed inwardly. It seemed as if every girl would talk about Sasuke in their introduction. Typical.

Sakura flounced down the aisle and bounced into her seat next to Hinata. Her hand cupped her cheek as she sighed, thinking about her last statements. She did want to become a matchmaker. She loved the idea of getting two souls together, to merge them into one happy couple. Love was in the air!

The two people Sakura wanted to pair up most was Hinata and Naruto. It was obvious she had a crush on him, and it was almost heartbreaking to see Hinata so lonely and sad all the time. Naruto seemed to be the only one who could make Hinata happy. Not only would she make Hinata happy if she ever succeeded in getting them together, she would get rid of the annoying, love-sick Naruto, who had a crush on her and was always getting in the way of her attempts to flirt with Sasuke.

"Hinata, you're up next. Please come to the front of the room." Kurenai smiled fondly at Hinata. Hinata gulped and her clasped hands shook. It was her turn!

Sakura struck a thumbs-up pose to Hinata and smiled. "Good luck, Hinata-chan!" she whispered.

"You can do it!" Ino chimed in.

Hinata smiled weakly. "Th-thank you..." she stammered timidly, swinging her legs over to the side so she could rise from her seat. However, her body was shaking so much that she accidentally tripped over the leg of her chair, falling flat onto her ground and bringing her desk down as well.

"Hinata-chan!" Sakura and Ino gasped in unison. "Are you okay?"

Hinata adjusted her glasses and nodded her head. Luckily, the desk hadn't fallen on her. Instead, it had fallen forward. However, Hinata was aware of the stares everyone shot her. "I-I'm ok-kay..." she stammered, scolding herself for being so clumsy and attracting so much attention.

"Are you sure you're all right, Hinata?" Kurenai called out in concern.

Hinata nodded dumbly. Slowly, she rose to her feet and shuffled to the front of the room. Gulping and fiddling with her fingers, she tried to look straight at her classmates, but as she lifted her eyes, she began to feel dizzy. Instead, she focused her eyes upon her desk.

"M-my name is H-Hyuuga H-H-Hinata. I-I am very p-pleased to meet you all." Her voice was barely audible, and several of her classmates leaned forward in their seats in an attempt to hear her.

Kurenai frowned, thinking she should ask Hinata to speak louder. She was next to her, and even she couldn't hear her very well. However, seeing how nervous the poor girl was, she changed her mind.

"Go on, Hinata," she urged kindly, smiling down at the blue-haired Hyuuga.

Kurenai's encouragement touched her, but it didn't help much. She was still feeling weak, and she felt as if she would pass out any moment. Hinata gulped again.

"U-Umm..." she went on timidly, wringing her hands in dismay. "I-I like to pick f-flowers, and I-I like senzai and cinnamon r-rolls. I d-don't like crab and eel...a-and...um..."

Hinata looked at Sakura and Ino for their opinions, and they both grinned and struck a thumbs-up pose, mouthing, "You're doing great!" Hinata tried to smile back, but it was so hard. The dead silence and the penetrating stares were making her woozy.

"M-my hobby is p-pressing f-flowers," Hinata swallowed hard, lowering her eyes to the floor sheepishly, "and my...my dream is to become a doctor. I-I also want to become more strong-w-willed so I-I w-won't be looked down u-upon any l-longer."

Absolute silence followed her statement, and the unblinking stares of her classmates weren't any comfort. When would the torture stop? Hinata felt as if she would pass out any moment.

"Thank you, Hinata. You may sit down now." Relief passed over Hinata like a tidal wave, and she bowed to Kurenai shakily. She hobbled awkwardly into her seat, avoiding the barely audible whispers and the quick glances everyone shot her way.

"You were great, Hinata!" Sakura tried to cheer her up.

"Yeah! You did good, Hinata! Don't fret. It's over now! Take deep breaths!" Ino demonstrated by dramatically taking in air and letting it out with a whoosh.

Hinata smiled weakly. "T-t-thanks, S-Sakura, Ino..." she stammered, her smile widening. Why did she need respect from others when she had two wonderful friends?

Her heart sank heavily, and a cold feeling wrapped itself around her heart. Still, still, she thought sadly, her smile wavering, she wanted everyone to look at her like she mattered, whether she was beautiful or not...

The door slammed open and someone stepped in. The sudden sound caused several to jump in surprise, and all heads turned towards the door. When the figure emerged from the shadows, jaws dropped and eyes widened. Kurenai narrowed her eyes, fixing the figure with a stern stare.

"Ah. Welcome, Uchiha Sasuke," she greeted dryly, her eyes narrowing. "I'm glad you decided to join us. What is your excuse for being late, especially on the first day of school?"

Sasuke turned away, clearly annoyed by her question. Kurenai frowned. Well, there was no point in asking, since he wouldn't answer. She inwardly sighed and waved her hand dismissively.

"All right. I'll let you go since this is the first day of school. Would you please introduce yourself to your classmates?"

Sasuke hmphed in reply and scanned the class boredly, ignoring the hands that gestured towards an empty seat beside them and the meaningful glances the girls sent him. The only ideal seat was next to a blue-haired girl who was the only one who didn't seem to be paying him any attention.

Meanwhile, Hinata secretly sympathized for Sasuke. How terrifying for him, to be forced to speak in front of a classroom against his will. She sighed inwardly.

"Are you always this defiant, Uchiha?" Kurenai asked coolly, hiding her annoyance with a cool demeanor.

Sasuke shot her an icy glare, but nonetheless, he faced the class and muttered, "My name is Uchiha Sasuke, as all of you may know. I don't think I need to say anything further."

Without another word, he stalked towards Hinata's direction and plopped into the seat next to her. Hinata swallowed hard. The Uchiha Sasuke was sitting next to her! The perfect boy of every girl's (except herself, of course) dream, the cold-hearted beauty that everyone looked up to because he was good-looking, despite the way he treated everyone.

He scared her. She didn't know why, but something about Sasuke sent shivers running down her spine. Perhaps it was his cold persona, or the way he glared at people without changing his expression. Or...perhaps it was the glory he possessed because of his beauty, the glory that she longed to have.

Yes, she thought, closing her eyes solemnly. That was probably the reason. She was afraid...afraid of someone she could never be, afraid because he was respected and looked up to and she wasn't.

Sasuke tucked his chin onto his clasped hands, annoyed that everyone was still staring at him, including Kurenai. His expression never changed as he coolly spoke, "You should continue with whatever you were doing before instead of wasting your time staring at me."

Kurenai glared coldly at him, irritated by his rude and cold attitude. Ignoring him, she called on the next person to introduce himself. When the student was done, she called on the next student, and so forth. This went on until there were only a few minutes left until the bell rang.

"Good," Kurenai remarked as the last student took their seat. "We all know each other quite properly now. Tomorrow, we will be reviewing over Algebra 2. You may go to your next class when the bell rings."

The bell rang soon enough, and everyone bowed in unison before piling out. Hinata let out a long breath of relief. The torment was finally over. She jumped slightly when someone exclaimed behind her, but relaxed when she realized that it was only Sakura.

"Oh, my gosh, Hinata-chan! You're so lucky!" Sakura groaned. "I'd do anything to have Sasuke-kun sit next to me!"

"Man, I wish I were you, Hinata-chan! You're so lucky!" Ino chimed in.

Hinata stared at them in shocked wonder. In what way was she lucky? She shook her head in disbelief.

Break was ten minutes. For most of the break, the three chattered in their homeroom. When the bell rang to signal for them to go back to their homerooms, they walked back to their first period class together.

"Today's going to be a long day." Sakura sighed.

"Yeahh...the first day of school is always a long day," Ino added, sighing as well.

Hinata silently agreed.


The rest of the day's classes were somewhat similar to her first period class. Hinata didn't know how she got through without passing out, but she thanked the gods that they gave her the strength to prevail.


"How was your day, Hinata-sama?"

"It was all right. How was yours, Neji-niisan?" Hinata smiled.

"Mine was all right as well. What is your opinion on high school so far?" her cousin questioned, glancing sideways at her.

"Well..." Hinata paused to press the button upon the pole near the curb. Waiting for the hand sign to blink green, she continued, "It's all right. I'm somewhat nervous yet excited about the events to come."

"I see." The hand sign blinked green, and the two walked side by side down the street. "It's too bad that we don't have any classes together," he muttered solemnly.

"Yes, I agree."

"Do you know a girl named Tenten?" he asked suddenly, as if something they had just said reminded him of something.

"Um, yes..." Hinata glanced at him, surprised. "She was in two of my classes today."

"Oh, I see." Neji nodded and a small smile crept onto his lips. "She told me that you seem shy, but you're really cute."

"Oh, s-she did?" Hinata looked away and her cheeks turned light pink. "I'll have to thank her sometime, I suppose."

Suddenly, she remembered the way Sakura and Ino smiled at her and told her, "You're cute!" Her smile gradually faded, and her eyelashes fluttered down slightly. Did they really mean it? Whenever anyone told her that she was cute or pretty, were they lying to make her feel good? Hinata's eyes glazed over dejectedly.

Tenten seemed like a nice girl, and a part of Hinata wanted to make friends with her. However, Hinata remembered something she had always told herself...

Never trust anyone but the ones who you love...the ones who love you back. Even so, you should always keep your guard up, because in reality...you can't trust anyone at all.

"Is something wrong?" Neji's voice forced its way through her thoughts.

"Huh?" She blinked twice and stared at Neji dumbly.

"You seemed awfully quiet and unhappy for a moment there, Hinata," he explained in concern, giving her the stare that she recognized as the stare he used to make someone feel so uncomfortable and awkward that they would have to give in.

Hinata shook her head slowly. "It was n-nothing..." she lied softly.

"Hn." Neji looked away and didn't say anything more.

She felt guilty for making him worry, but she didn't feel like spilling out her troubles to him. It wasn't that she didn't trust him; it was just that she never actually confided in anyone before. She was always used to keeping her feelings bottled up. She hated it, but it was a part of her personality, and she couldn't do anything about it.

A few minutes later, they came across a small lake. Hinata stopped to look into the eyes of her reflection, and Neji immediately stopped to wait patiently for her. Hinata's sad eyes traveled over the ugly features of her face, and she sighed softly.



She lifted her eyes and looked straight into Neji's clear orbs. "Has anyone ever told you something...or said anything about you that you knew...deep down in your heart...that it was or wasn't true, no matter how much you wanted it to be true or not?"

Neji looked slightly surprised, yet it almost seemed as if he knew she would say something among those lines. "No, I have not. However, I can assume that whoever feels that way must feel great pain."

Hinata nodded sadly. "Yes..." she agreed quietly, turning back to gaze sadly into the lake. She hung her head sorrowfully, and her long bangs cast a shadow over her glassy eyes. "Yes, they do..."

A single drop of water kissed the surface of the lake.


In case you're wondering, ikebana means "the way of the flower." It didn't sound right to say "I guess...to hone my way of the flower skills," so I put in ikebana instead. Just to clear things up. :)

Any comments/questions/ideas/concerns/constructive criticism? Send them in your review! -pokes review button- :D