Hewwo all! Fresh off the plate…a Naru-Hina fanfiction for you all! Enjoy!

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Trials of Youth

By Zefie Kirasagi

"Please, do be careful Hinata. Go straight to the school building and don't talk to anyone."

"Yes, mother."

Hinata stepped out of her home on shaky legs. Barely five, this was her first time outside of home on her own. She had been to the schoolhouse with her mother in previous days, but it seemed like such a long walk for her short legs. Her small backpack slung over one shoulder, she set off down the dirt street, following the signs on either side of the road towards the main part of the Village of Leaves.

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"Umm…excuse me…"

"Get out of the way kid."

The man roughly pushed her aside, causing Hinata to stumble and fall on her butt in the road. Standing shakily, she looked around again. The frequent signs pointing her in the right direction had disappeared several minutes ago, and she was very much certain that she was lost. Unfortunately, most of the people around her were not as helpful as she would have hoped.

"Excuse me, but can you-"

"Move! You're in the way!"

As Hinata fell on her hind end for the fourth time in the last minute, she felt fearful tears welling in her eyes. Clutching her legs against her chest, she felt the tears leaking down her cheeks. Why were people so mean? All she wanted was to get to school.

"Hey, get up, you're in the middle of the road!"

Hinata looked up. A particularly large man was standing over her, a heavy load of grain slung over his back. The young girl merely froze, staring up at the man.

"I said move!"

The man moved his foot, pushing Hinata over with it. She fell on her side, curling up in an even tighter ball.

"Dammit, move you stupid girl!"

The man's foot made to move again and Hinata cringed as it came closer.

Then there was a flash of orange and yellow.

And a loud bang as the man hit the ground.

Hinata blinked, then slowly glanced up. A boy in almost completely bright orange clothes stood over the man, has hand on the man's foot that he had grabbed and used to make the man collapse backwards. The boy was very small, with a short crop of yellow hair. He turned towards Hinata, kneeling next to her.

"Are you alright?"

Hinata gasped. His face was boyish, with lines almost like whiskers, and his eyes were a vibrant blue. Hinata felt a blush come to her cheeks.

"Y-y-yes."

The boy helped her up, and Hinata felt her blush increase. Then the boy rounded on the man, who was slowly getting up.

"What's the big idea, picking on a little girl like that! You big jerk!"

The man focused on the boy.

"You shouldn't get involved, kid. She was in the way. She shouldn't be here anyway."

"Did you bother to ask her if she was lost?"

"Well…uh…"

Ignoring the man, the boy turned back to Hinata.

"Are you lost?"

"Um…y-yes, I-I was trying t-to get to the sc-schoolhouse…"

"No problem! Just come with me!"

The boy gripped her hand and led her off down the road. As he did, Hinata felt her face growing redder, perhaps from the warmth of his hand. The boy looked back at her.

"I'm Naruto, by the way. Naruto Uzumaki."

"I-I'm H-Hinata. Hinata H-Hyug-gi."

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Unfortunately, despite Naruto's assurances that he knew how to get to the school, his numerous "shortcuts" ended up leading the two out of the village completely. Naruto glanced around the small clearing they now stood in, with towering trees all around them.

"Huh, that's strange. The path should have been right here…"

Hinata huddled herself as close to him as she dared, her eyes wide and frightened, as the forest around them seemed to be endless. She heard a sudden metallic sound, and saw that little Naruto had a kunai gripped in his hand.

"There's a creature out there."

Hinata gasped, feeling her fear magnifying. There was a long silence, then one of the bushes rustled. Naruto's knife zipped into the bushes…

…and a loud howl erupted from the bush, followed by a dead wolf cub collapsing out of it. Naruto gritted his teeth, pulling a second kunai from the small pouch on his pant leg. Another howl erupted from the next bush, and another cub stepped out. Not exactly a cub. More like a mostly-grown wolf. The wolf glanced at the fallen cub, then growled at the two. Naruto moved another kunai to his other hand, then glanced back at Hinata.

"You should try and go back the way we came. I'll hold it off."

Hinata stared at Naruto. Is he…trying to sacrifice himself for me?

"N-no, I'm staying."

Hinata pulled her own kunai from her leg pouch to emphasize the point, holding it shakily in her right hand. Naruto stared for a second, then grinned.

"Alright then."

Then he charged directly at the wolf.

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"Sakura."

"Here!"

"Sasuke."

"Here."

"Ino?"

"Here!"

"Neji?"

"Here."

"Naruto?"

"…"

"Naruto Uzumaki?"

The schoolhouse door suddenly opened, and Naruto stumbled inside, followed by a panting Hinata. The teacher looked down at the two.

"Naruto Uzumaki! Where have you been?"

"Sorry, but there was-"

"I don't want to hear it! You're staying after class!"

Hinata looked up at the teacher.

"B-but Kakashi-san, Naruto's only late b-because he was p-protecting me."

There was a short silence, permeated only by a steady dripping sound.

"What's that sound?"

"Naruto! You're bleeding!"

"Huh? What'dyou mean I'm-oo…"

THUMP

"Naruto-kun!"

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"Nngh…huh?"

Naruto sat up suddenly, then vertigo made him lie back down. He glanced around, his eyes finding a small vase on a table by the bed he was lying in. Sitting in the vase was a small clump of dandelions. Naruto grinned. He liked dandelions, they matched his hair.

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Outside the room, Hinata tiptoed away from the door. She found herself back in the main waiting room fairly fast, where Ino and Sakura quickly besieged her with questions.

"What happened?"

"Why were you late?"

"What did you mean by protected?"

"How is he?"

"He…protected me from a wolf in the forest…we got lost coming to school and…he…protected me."

He…protected me…

And thus began Hinata Hyugga's crush on Naruto Uzumaki.

END

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How'd you like? Read and Review please! Thanx!