For a long time though to her it only felt like minutes Hinata sat in the playground. She wasn't entirely sure what to do next. It seemed like she had three options; go find Gaara, go home or go find her friends and apologise. The last option she crossed out almost immediately, not because she didn't want to go see her friends but because it was far too late and they would be asleep anyway. She also rejected the 'find Gaara' option; she thought that being in the state that she was in, it would be a very stupid idea to go searching for him. She would just end up getting more upset as time went on and if she did find him she wouldn't have anything to say. So, with a heavy heart, she picked the second option and alone, Hinata went home.

She choose to climb up the wall of her house and enter her open bedroom window by focussing chakra in her feet rather than entering through the front door because she wished to avoid her family's prying questions. She had entered this way quite a lot in her younger years when her father had upset her or Neji had insulted her or she was just having a hard day coping with training and she had wanted to avoid everyone. So it was perhaps natural to her all this crying and the feeling of shoving her face into her pillow as she curled up on her bed. But all the same, no matter how used to it she was, it always hurts to cry. The sharp pang in her heart as she took heaving breaths in between sobs showed this to be so.

She spent quiet a long time in this position curled up on her bed but eventually her chest relaxed and she stopped crying. She jumped as she felt a knock on her door but she choose to ignore it; she really couldn't face her family right now. Rubbing her eyes she waited for the sound of footsteps indicating that the person outside had gone. But those footsteps never came. Instead, the door knob to her room began to turn and a sickening feeling entered into her stomach. No one in her family would ever enter her room unless she called out so who was trying to come in now? She remembered horror films that she had watched with Kiba and Shino after their missions and of killers creeping into girl's bedrooms before grossly murdering them. Then she remembered how she would always get scared during these films and of how her two team mates would hold her between them, comforting her as they watched the end of the movie. This thought caused Hinata to break out into new tears and she no longer cared who was trying to come in.

Looking between her salty tears that trickled down her face she watched as the door swing open creaking. Her heart leapt into her mouth and she jumped off the bed as she realised who was 'breaking into' her room.

"!!?" She tried to say something; anything but she found that she couldn't form the words. This happened rarely, only when she was so upset and her stuttering became so bad that even simple words would not sound. Her small round mouth gaped open soundlessly as the 'person' stepped towards her. She flinched slightly but didn't move as a rough hand moved to her face and caressed it.

"What's wrong?" Gaara asked, his hand on her face in the same way that she had touched him earlier. He could see that she had been crying and was thus asking her the same question she had asked him when he had been upset. It was the only way that he knew how; imitation. After all Gaara was not familiar to comforting people. Hinata without answering closed her eyes and grabbed Gaara's hand that was on her face. Gaara took this to mean that she didn't want any contact so moved away but she hurriedly pulled it back to her face.

"Gaara." Hinata could still not find words to voice how she felt so choose to just simply say his name. She was so happy to have Gaara there with her but she couldn't just stop thinking of her friends. Every time Gaara stroked her face an image of either Naruto, Shino or Kiba flickered through her mind causing her to sob softly.

"You don't understand." She mumbled as she moved away from Gaara and slumped back on to her bed.

"You're right. I don't. So explain." Gaara ordered as he sat down next to her. Hinata had a sudden sickening thought of what her father would do if he came in and found Gaara on her bed but she decided that she didn't care about things like that anymore!

"It's just Shino shouted at me! And I hurt so many people! And Naruto – I'm meant to fancy him and I don't anymore and he is confused and I shouted at him! And then Kiba is upset and he is my friend! At least I thought he was! But he loves me, and I don't love him in that way! But I don't want to hurt him! But I can't just make myself love him! Because I love someone else! And..." Hinata shouted out quite unlike her normal quiet self in a flurry of words, not bothered if her family heard her but just needing to get it out of her system. She didn't expect Gaara to understand but from the way he picked up her hand and gripped it tightly she wondered if perhaps he did.

"I'm not the best to ask. I don't understand love. All I can associate love with is pain; every time I think I've had it, it is taken away from me. But I-" Gaara was gripping Hinata's hand a bit too tightly as he struggled for words but she didn't really mind despite the pain.

"I know this. Friends are something special. To not be alone is a…a…a great thing! You should seek these friends and talk to them so they understand. But ah, you shouldn't force love. If you don't love them then you must wait until you find someone you do love. And you say you have found that person? Then you should tell them because I'm sure that they would want to know." Gaara said before dropping her hand and standing up. He hungrily took in her form and saw himself reflected in her eyes as she did the same back to him.

"That is why I should tell you Hinata. I- you make me feel different. Here." Gaara patted his chest indicating where his heart was and Hinata gulped nervously – was he saying what she hoped he was saying? "And here" He touched his stomach. He wasn't so good at describing how he felt so he was finding the whole conversation very difficult. "It feels as if I have…uh… butterflies in my stomach when I'm around you. And when I go and leave you I feel a pang in my heart. I don't understand it." Gaara stared back at Hinata hopefully wishing that she would explain this strange phenomenon that he was going through.

"It's love that you are feeling Gaara-kun." She whispered and he nodded immediately accepting this idea; he had guessed as much but had needed someone to confirm it.

"I thought as much. I've had it only once for someone, and that person tried to kill me when I was very young. My uncle. Ah." Gaara hurried over this part not liking to talk about his painful past.

"And now I know that you love someone else. I just want to be your friend and you to be happy. So please tell this person you love them so you can be happy again, and not cry anymore." Gaara gulped turning to leave. He wasn't really sure he could handle hearing who it was that Hinata loved – he might get the urge to go out and kill them if they didn't return her feelings. His Hinata – no not his; she would never be his – Gaara corrected his thoughts –deserved to be happy. Her small voice pierced Gaara's soul suddenly and he stopped at hearing his name sound from her delicate mouth.

"What?" He asked, expecting her to ask him a question seeing as she had just called his name.

"The person I love. That's his name. Gaara." She breathed and Gaara stood still– staring at her – was this a joke? No! It wasn't! But what was he meant to do now? He understood that this feeling was 'love' but how was he meant to express it?

He needn't have worried – gentle Hinata – now dare he say it - his Hinata - knew exactly how to show her feelings seeing as she had suppressed them for so long. As she lunged herself at Gaara hugging him tightly she thought for a brief moment how strange it was that after all these years she had imagined that the person she would be hugging like this would be Naruto but instead it was Gaara. But this thought was quickly suppressed as with a gleeful heart-wrenching feeling she felt Gaara carefully return her hug. She was shocked at the gentleness of the way that Gaara held her – it was almost as if he was treating her like a fragile creature and trying not to hurt her. She realised that this was just what she needed – someone to treat her gently as no one had ever done so before – and she knew that neither Naruto nor Kiba – both quite hyper boys – would be able to hug quite like this.

Not wanting to end the hug but knowing that she had to, Hinata pulled softly away from Gaara. "We should both sleep now, Gaara." She smiled up at the taller boy and he understanding her meaning kissed her gently on the forehead (imitating what he had seen of the couple Temeri and Shikamaru…he wasn't quite ready yet to imitate their more –ahem- active make-out sessions but he knew that Hinata wouldn't be either so he was content. His only wish now was to please her in any way that he could.). He then left for his bedroom leaving Hinata to sleep in peace and reply in her head the moment that they had just had together.

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The next morning was slightly weird for Hinata to say the least. For starters she woke up smiling; a thing that she couldn't remember having ever done before. She was actually looking forward to the rest of the day! Yes, she knew that she would have to face her friends, but she was feeling a new found bravery that could only be Gaara's support and she was ready for whatever came. She wouldn't shy away from things anymore. The second weird thing was that she was awake before her father! Stepping downstairs to the breakfast room she ate her toast alone. At first she thought that she had over slept but looking at the clock she realised that being only five am, she was an hour ahead of her father's schedule. She decided to take up breakfast in bed to him to shock him – and shock him she did. The last weird thing then was seeing her father smile at her and calling her a 'good daughter' though he did add that 'it was highly unlike her. Perhaps she was taking a leaf out of her sister's book'. Rather cheekily; again unlike her, she told her father that she was up even before her sister and shouldn't her sister take a leaf out of her book? Her father didn't know what to reply to this and merely gaped wordlessly at her as she closed the door to his room and left the house.

Such was her busy morning that she had almost forgot – forgot what such an important day it was. It was the day of Gaara's meeting with the Hokage to discuss what would happen next. Whether he would stay and become a ninja of Konoha or whether his village would want him back. Hinata tried to push this troubling thought out of her mind, there was nothing she could do about the Hokage's decision after all. She would just have to wait until Gaara got home and ask him then. In the meantime she was planning on finding her friends and apologising to them for her actions but also calmly explaining her situation. First stop? The ramen store. And yes, she had thought right – Naruto was there having his morning bowl (or three) of his favourite ramen. She sat down next to him waiting for him to notice that she was near, not wanting to start the conversation first.

"Hinata-chan!" Naruto suddenly emerged from his eating long enough to notice the girl next to him. "Ramen?" He asked gesturing to a spare pair of chopsticks and that she should share with him. Hinata almost cried with happiness; this was a big gesture for Naruto to share his ramen. Had he really forgiven her for what she had done to him?

"Naruto-kun. I- I have something to say." She mumbled, not because she still fancied Naruto but because she was nervous. She ignored the chop sticks; she found that she was too nervous to be hungry.

"Wow! You've almost completely lost your stutter!! You don't sound so weird anymore!" Naruto said in his blunt way and she gulped though secretly agreeing with him.

"I'm sorry for shouting at you." She began. "And I don't fancy you anymore – I'm sorry for that too. I was confused with my feelings and I took it out at you. Please forgive me Naruto-kun." Hinata said clearly shocking Naruto into stopping eating for a second…just a second though.

"Wha? I wasn't mad at you! And what are you on about? You really are weird Hinata! You don't fancy me, you like that Gaara person you are always spending time with! Besides; I like Sakura-chan!" Naruto appeared to be oblivious to Hinata ever fancying him; he had known that something had changed between their relationship the other day when she had shouted at him and not chased after him but he took this to be because he had walked in on her time with Gaara. Sakura after all portrayed the same emotions when he interrupted her time with Sasuke. He waved his chopsticks at her before continuing. "Shino was looking for you! I almost forgot to tell you! He's at your old training ground now I think-"

Hinata nodded and smiled, pleased that one of her friends was still, well, still her friend! She hurriedly left but not before paying for Naruto's ramen. It was the least she could do, and after seeing Naruto's face light up she knew that she had done the right thing. After today she was going to start valuing her friends more. Sprinting along she stopped outside their team training ground. It was a simple concrete court that was framed by wire mesh and yes – there was Shino with –

"Kiba!" Hinata gulped, she had been hoping to speak to him last and on his own. She was too nervous now, should she go back? But it was too late – Shino had seen her and was beckoning her over. So swallowing her fears she walked towards them.

"Hinata- I wanted to talk to you." Shino began but Hinata held up a hand stopping him.

"Me first please Shino? And I want to talk to you too Kiba." Hinata began. Kiba had turned his back on her which disheartened her but she could see that he was listening.

"I want to apologise." She began.

"Well it's going to take more than a 'I'm sorry' Hinata!" Kiba suddenly turning barked out at her. Akamaru's fur was bristling. Shino placed a hand on Kiba's arm restraining him and Kiba grunted but was quiet.

"I know that. Please, I" And Hinata was crying – she couldn't help it. Kiba turned to look at her; his anger filled eyes softening slightly – he couldn't bare his dearest friend to cry. "I just want to be friends again! I know I've abandoned you guys and I don't deserve you but I need you! I need you just as much as I need Gaara! I'm sorry Kiba; I do love Gaara. I'm so sorry; I just want us all to be friends again!" She repeated herself as she sobbed. She felt that she didn't deserve forgiveness and was half turning away when Shino stepped forward.

"Where do you think you are going…friend?" He said as he pulled to him, standing on the right of her – his arms wrapped around her right shoulder. He looked at Kiba questioningly who still looked slightly fierce but came and stood on her left side – hugging her left shoulder so that now the two boys had enveloped her in a warm embrace. It was their old team hug and Hinata had missed it even if she hadn't realised until now.

"You're silly Hinata." She felt Kiba whisper into her ear. "I can't help but love you but I want you to be happy. You should have just told me that you liked Gaara and I would have backed off. Even when you liked Naruto I would have backed off if you had told me. But you never did." He hugged her tightly. "I still think you deserve better than Gaara though. Remember – whatever you decide we will always love you." He added as an after thought and Shino looked at him warningly. Hinata didn't really understand the last part to this statement but she nodded anyway.

"Thank you." Hinata mumbled. "Thank you for being my friend."

"That's quite alright Hinata; we will always be friends! But aren't you going to see Gaara off?" Shino asked breaking their hug and Kiba following suit.

"Off? What do you mean?" She asked nervously dreading the answer coming.

"Don't tell me you haven't heard!" Kiba sounded frustrated. "I mean jeez, this is the guy you love remember? The Hokage sent him back to the Sand Village! He should be just leaving her office now! If you hurry you might be able to say goodbye!" Kiba spoke in that quick way of his.

Hinata gulped; her eyes wide. What?! Gaara leave?! Surely not now, not now that she had everything sorted out! Apologising to the two boys for leaving so abruptly she sprinted as fast as she could towards the Hokage's office. But would she make it in time? Or would Gaara already have gone?

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"Do you think that was the right thing to do, Shino?" Kiba whispered to Shino as they watched Hinata run away.

"Yeah, she'll get there quicker that way. And he did ask us to do that, remember?" Shino replied though he felt slightly guilty for deceiving Hinata too. But that hadn't been what Kiba had meant.

"No! I mean, you know – letting her go! We could have just never told her about Gaara's leaving and we could still keep her!" He complained.

"You know that wouldn't be right Kiba. And you said so yourself; you love her, you just want her to be happy!"

"But happy with us. Now we need to get a new team mate."

"I know, I know. But we can still visit her. It will be ok Kiba. It will be ok." Shino said not sure whether he was reassuring Kiba or himself. He gazed up at the sky thoughtfully before nodding sadly at Kiba to re-start their sparring. Which they did. Both sad that they would soon lose their dearest friend but also knowing that it had been the right thing to do however hard it had been for them.

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Hinata pushed her way through the crowds of early morning shoppers towards the Hokage's office. Never had she been so scared before, not even when she had been fighting tougher opponents had she felt this way. What if she was late and missed him? She didn't even dare think about that let alone think about what it would feel like to have to live in Konoha and him in the Sand Village! It would be like having an arm chopped off or something drastic like that.

Puffing and panting she stopped as she noticed Gaara and stared up at the boy she loved – he was standing at the top of the Hokage's stairs, a small box in one hand and a piece of paper in the other. Hinata didn't care what he was holding and running up the stairs she leapt into his out stretched arms. Gaara was thankful that she had made it in time; if she had been later than he would have had no choice but to head back to his old Sand Village hometown – that was the Hokage's orders after all – he was no longer a Konoha citizen.

"Why do you have to leave?!" She sobbed, not caring the Kurunei – her old sensei and Tsunade – the Hokage were watching from some way behind Gaara.

"I have been elected as the new KazeKage of my village. And now that I can use my chakra again they want me to go back straight away." Gaara explained as Hinata sobbed into his shirt. "But-" He moved away from Hinata and backed down onto one knee causing Hinata to gulp in confusion. Her eyes flickered to her sensei who smiled encouragingly.

"You can come with me Hinata – as my wife. It's the only way that you can become a member of a different village – through marriage." And Gaara opened the small box containing a small gold banded ring with a ruby studded into the centre of it. It was beautiful – breaktakingly so and Hinata was stunned for a while. He knelt patiently waiting for her reply even though he had felt his leg go dead quite a while ago.

It was then that Hinata remembered what Kiba had said earlier which she had not then understood; 'Remember – whatever you decide we will always love you.' She understood this now – her team mates had given her their blessing. So, slightly sad that she would have to be leaving them but so happy to be wanted by Gaara she held out her hand in acceptation. Gaara was quick to place the engagement ring on her finger; scared that she would change her mind.

"I know we are young and have only just discovered our love. So marriage is far away. But at least this way you can live with me in the Sand Village and decide – and take as long as you like – whether you truly wish to marry me." Gaara explained and handed her the piece of paper he had in his other hand. It was the release form saying that she was leaving Konoha and becoming a Sand Village citizen. Her hand was shaking as she signed it because she knew that there would be no going back now but it was nervous excitement; she wasn't scared. She trusted Gaara.

She noticed Kurunei who had been like a second mother to her was crying and she without a moment's hesitation she hugged her teacher, who returned the embrace equally quickly. Then, bowing to Tsunade and gravely handing over her Konoha headband, she turned to Gaara. He grabbed her hand smiling – perhaps one of his first ever smiles- at Hinata as they turned and headed towards the Konoha gates. She hoped that someone would tell her family but she was sure that they wouldn't care that she had left anyway – her father had always made it clear that she wasn't needed Besides the last thing her father had said to her was that she was a 'good daughter' and she wanted to leave with the statement in her heart.

Hinata knew that things would be different from here on but grinning, she knew that she would love every minute of it. Whether in Konoha or the Sand Village she now knew the true meaning of 'friendship' and she realised that her friends; Kiba, Shino, Naruto and all the others would always remain forever in her heart. That feeling was back too; the stomach butterfly feeling… a feeling she now associated with love and hoped would never go.

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Author's Notes: Sorry if you didn't like the ending. I thought it was very cheesy. But I guess that it is better than having Gaara leave without her? Or her team mates hating her? Do you guys like it? Please review! Thanks for reading my fanfiction.