Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto.
A/N. This is my first NejiHina fic, so please don't kill me if it sucks horribly.
I meant to publish this on Christmas Day, buuut...some things came up. x33 I guess this could be a Late Christmas fic. -shifty eyes- Anyway, this fic was inspired by This Gift by 98 Degrees.
Japanese people often celebrate Christmas on Christmas Eve instead of Christmas Day, so that's why I put the date (somewhere in the middle of the fic...) as December 24 instead of December 25.
I am REALLY sorry, but Neji and Hinata are going to be rather OOC in this fic. Ehehe...-shifty eyes- Anyway, there's no incest or anything...just fluffy cousin love. :3
Happy Late Birthday, Hinata-chan! -throws confetti- :D
Review, please? I really want to know what you guys think of this. :DD
+---------- December 22 ----------+
"I wish it'd snow." A wistful sigh escaped the young Hyuuga's lips as she stared longingly at the heavens, her white eyes glistening with hope.
She smiled at the look of disbelief on her cousin's face. "I don't know," she admitted truthfully, wringing her hands thoughtfully. "It's just that I've...always wanted to see snow. I've always wished it would snow ever since I was a child. Don't you, Neji-niisan?"
"Not particularly," he said stiffly.
"Oh? Why not?" Hinata looked surprise at the resentfulness in his tone.
"Well...long ago..." Neji paused abruptly and shook his head vigorously. "Never mind. Anyway, Hinata-sama, you wouldn't want to it to snow. It's really cold and not very enjoyable. Trust me."
"Is that so?" Hinata laughed heartily, hugging her knees to her chest. "I still wish it'd snow, though," she whispered, her voice deepening with sadness.
There was a faraway look in her eyes as she stared off into the distance, wondering what it would be like to experience just a single, snowy day. She remembered her friends trying to describe it to her when she asked them about snow one day.
"Uhhh...well, how do I explain this...well, snow...it's really cold!" Naruto offered.
"No, duh, you idiot!" Sakura rolled her eyes in annoyance. "As if Hinata-chan doesn't already know that!"
"Well, it's kind of hard for me to explain it," Ino shrugged, "because I was just a kid when I had my first experience. Well...I guess you can think of snow as ice cubes...and...well -"
"Just think of snow as soft and fluffy ice cubes!" Sakura put in. "Well, it's kind of hard to explain it..." she shrugged helplessly. "You'll have to see for yourself to understand!" Sakura beamed.
"It hardly snows here in Tokyo, though." Ino sighed heavily. "You might want to go to another city if you want snow, like Hokkaido or Kyoto."
"Yeahh...but when it does snow in Tokyo, it's really pretty! You know, since Tokyo is one of the prettiest cities - well, in my opinion, because it has lots of pretty lights at night - and then when it snows...it just becomes a whole lot prettier!" Sakura sighed dreamily, cupping her cheek in her palm absentmindedly. "A snowy Tokyo is like a Winter Wonderland!"
That only made her longing increase.
Neji noticed the sadness and wistfulness in his cousin's eyes immediately and looked away, feeling somewhat uncomfortable. Even though he never really liked snow, he found himself wishing it would snow soon...just so that she would be happy. A frown never belonged on a face such as hers.
"It rarely snows here in Tokyo," he mumbled awkwardly.
A soft, sad smile crept along the corner of Hinata's lips. "I know," Hinata paused, "but I'd be...very happy if it'd snow before Christmas ends. I've always wanted a white Christmas."
+---------- December 23 ----------+
"Ahh...Neji-niisan! I have something for you!" Blushing good-naturedly, Hinata presented to her cousin a beautifully-wrapped gift with a red bow on top.
"Oh." Neji couldn't think straight. It wasn't like he expected her to not give him something, but still...he felt surprised. "For me?" he asked stupidly. I don't even have something to give her. How can I accept this?
It wasn't like he hadn't tried. He had been searching for the ideal gift for his cousin for ages, but nothing ever seemed to be right. He knew she wasn't the type to laugh at his gift, no matter how lame it was. But for his sake, he had to give something that he could be proud of. Yet, he had absolutely no idea what she wanted for Christmas - except snow, that is, but it wasn't like he could command the sky to snow.
Hinata's soft giggle sliced through his thoughts, and he snapped out of his trance to find her covering her mouth with one hand to smother her delicate laugh. "Of course - " she wanted to add "silly," but she knew how resentful he was of playful insults like those.
Neji looked down at the gift and gently pushed it back. "I...I'm sorry, Hinata-sama," he mumbled awkwardly. She looked at him, surprised and bewildered. "I don't have something to give you - it wouldn't be right to take it - "
"Neji-niisan, don't be so obstinate!" Hinata pushed the present into his arms, smiling. "It's Christmas! And as for me...I prefer giving gifts than receiving them."
"Hinata-sama - " he tried protesting, but the blue-haired girl shook her head and just smiled that smile of hers.
"It's all right. I don't mind. Now...aren't you going to open it?" Hinata gestured to the present timidly, blushing slightly.
"I-well..." The eager look on her face changed his mind. Neji sighed heavily and finally agreed, "All right."
Yet, as exasperated as he was, he couldn't help smiling whenever she had that adorable look on her face. He tore open the gift cautiously and opened the lid of the box.
"Oh...? It's a scarf." Neji pulled it out of the white box, cocking his head slightly as he studied the interesting design of the long, broad strip of blue and green lace.
"I'm sorry I couldn't give you anything decent." Hinata smiled apologetically. "But it has always been clear to me that you resent the snow - so if someday, it snows - you can wear this and keep yourself warm."
"How thoughtful." Neji couldn't help but smile. "I appreciate this, Hinata-sama."
Hinata smiled back. "Oh, I have to leave now...I need to deliver my other gifts." Hinata gently patted the bag that hung from her forearm. "Merry Christmas, Neji-niisan!"
With a delicate wave of her hand, she rushed off, her medium-length locks of blue billowing in the breeze. Neji stared at her retreating back, unable to get rid of the mantra that was repeating softly in his mind.
"I'd be...very happy if it'd snow before Christmas ends. I've always wanted a white Christmas."
''Hinata-chan, Neji-kun told me to tell you that he's sorry that he can't walk home with you today."
"Oh?" Hinata looked surprised. How strange. Wouldn't Neji have told me earlier...? "I see. Did he say why, Tenten?"
"Umm...not really. He just said it was something urgent." Tenten shrugged.
"I see." Hinata bit the inside of her lip in worry. I wonder if something terrible happened...
Nonetheless, Hinata managed to put on a bright smile. She thanked the Chinese girl and went on her way. It was strange not to walk home with her cousin, like she always did. A bitter sense of loneliness settled in her heart.
Hinata didn't see Neji for the rest of the day, but as she settled into her covers at night, her longing for snow put Neji out of her mind. She stared out her window. Just one more day. Kami-sama...please, she prayed pleadingly, let me have just this one Christmas wish. Let me have just one white Christmas.
+---------- December 24 ----------+
Light? Strange, she never drew the curtains open until she had woken up.
Hinata yawned, rubbed her eyes, and tried to focus her vision in the dim yet somewhat blinding sunlight. She looked out the window. No snow, she thought sorrowfully. For a second, she wondered why her window was open, but the bitter thought of no snow this Christmas was dominant in her mind.
"It can't be helped," she whispered to herself, sliding out of her bed.
"What can be helped?"
She almost squealed and jumped three feet in the air in surprise. She whirled, her eyes wide.
He gazed at her with a slight frown. "Did I startle you?"
Was he that oblivious? He nearly gave her a heart attack!!
Nonetheless, Hinata smiled weakly. "A-ahh...it's all right, Neji," she reassured kindly, shaking her head. "B-but..may I ask why you're here?" she asked curiously, cocking her head.
A soft chuckle escaped Neji's lips. Hinata blinked in surprise. It was rare that he had such an eager, pleased expression on his face.
"I was...simply too excited to wait. I decided to climb over onto your balcony and go into your room through your window. You forgot to lock it yesterday, did you not?"
A tiny sweatdrop appeared at Hinata's temple as she blushed in embarrassment, the word "n00b" clearly written across her face in big, bold letters.
"I have something to show you. Do you have time right now?" Neji looked at her curiously, hopefully.
"U-umm...I would love to - "
"All right, let's go then." Neji grabbed her wrist and started to pull her out of her room.
"B-but, Neji...! I need to ch-change..."
"Hn...?" Neji turned around and realized that she was wearing a white, somewhat see-through nightgown. He looked away instantly. He was a man, but he wasn't a pervert. "Oh," was the only thing he could say. He released her wrist and waited outside her room, the word "n00b" scrawled across his slightly pink face.
"Okay." Hinata came out of the room, wearing a violet shirt and dark blue pants. "I'm dressed."
"All right. Shall we go?" Without waiting for a response, Neji grabbed her wrist and dragged her outside.
"Where are we going?"
"To Onjuku Beach." Neji chuckled slightly at the bewildered and confused frown on his cousin's face. "You'll see."
Hinata frowned slightly, confused. Onjuku Beach - Neji's private beach? Why would he take her there? When they arrived at the location of Onjuku Beach, there was the answer.
"Ohhhh, my...! Neji...!"
A soft, long gasp escaped her lips as the tips of her finger touched her lower lip. Cotton hung from the palm trees and scattered about the sand, along with a large amount of white substance that oddly resembled flour. It almost looked like...a Winter Wonderland, Hinata thought, a small smile forming on her face.
"Do you like it?" Neji asked cautiously, waiting impatiently for her opinion.
"It...it's beautiful." Hinata shook her head and, for some reason, started to giggle uncontrollably. She couldn't help herself - the sight of the beach, covered with flour and cotton was as comical as it was beautiful!
Neji arched an eyebrow and gazed at her with a puzzled frown. "May I inquire what is so funny?"
"It's a good thing this is a private beach, don't you think, Neji?" Hinata laughed heartily. "If this beach were open to the public, what do you suppose people would say when they come here? They'd be most surprised!"
"Why else do you think I chose to scatter cotton and flour over my private beach instead of a public one?" Neji chuckled softly, shaking his head in amusement.
Hinata jumped onto the beach and giggled. "The cotton tickles!" she commented.
Neji couldn't help smiling. It was rare he saw this side of her - so playful, happy, and...adorable...
"Neji-niisan! Do you want to help me make sand castles? It's been a long time since I've been to a beach and made sand castles."
Neji's smile was replaced with a 'you've-GOT-to-be-kidding-me' frown. Making sand castles weren't his thing, but if it made her happy...
"...All right," he agreed reluctantly, a small sigh escaping his lips as he hesitantly joined his cousin.
"Let's substitute the flour as snow! We can make snow castles - or...should I say, flour castles...?" Hinata cocked her head and stared down innocently at the flour, which simply made Neji smile even more.
"I've never built sand castles before," Neji said truthfully.
"Oh? Here, I'll show you."
For the next five minutes, Hinata taught him how to make a sand castle, or in this case, a flour castle. In addition, Neji taught It didn't turn out very well, however. One look at their creation - a squashed, lumpy, poor excuse for a flour castle made them burst out laughing.
"I don't think I've laughed this much before," Neji admitted, a bit ashamed that he was showing a softer, more playful side of himself. "I feel...embarrassed."
"Don't be." Hinata cocked her head and smiled. "To tell you the truth...I like this side of you better than your serious, quiet side. You should...how should I say it...? 'Let loose and have fun.' "
"Same here, Hinata-sama. Same here."
"I had a lot of fun today, Neji."
"...Me, too," Neji admitted. He sighed, a mixture of disbelief and stun on his face. "I still can't believe we spent the whole morning and most of the afternoon at the beach."
Hinata's smile quickly faded. "Do...do you regret spending time with me today...?" she asked softly.
"O-of course not!" Neji objected, shocked.
"Oh." Hinata looked away. "I really did enjoy spending time with you...and, well...to think about the possibility that you didn't...it - "
"Hinata-sama...I did enjoy spending time with you today," Neji cut in rather sharply. Realizing that he probably sounded harsh, he quickly added, in a softer voice, "I...I apologize if I seem like I didn't...but I did. I was just...shocked that this was the first time we actually spend time together. Hinata-sama, you understand, don't you?"
To his relief, Hinata turned back and smiled. "Of course, I do," Hinata paused. "...Umm...and I'm sorry. I didn't mean...I shouldn't have jumped to conclusions...Forgive me."
"It is all right, Hinata-sama."
"Thank you...and...if you don't mind, I would like to go home and take a rest. I'm awfully exhausted."
Someone was shaking her shoulder lightly. When she tried to block out the sound and unconsciously turned over on her side, her shoulder was then shaken rather roughly.
"Wake up, Hinata-sama!"
"Nnnghh..." she mumbled, half awake and half asleep. However, she was awake enough to recognize Neji's voice. "Let me sleep, Neji..."
"Uhhnn. Neji...!" Hinata finally forced her eyes open. She sat up abruptly, staring through squinted eyes at her cousin. "Neji...what is it? Is something wrong?" she asked tiredly.
"Just the opposite."
Neji grabbed her arm and started to tug firmly, indicating that he wanted her to get up. She sighed inwardly and allowed him to pull her out of bed. She rubbed her eyes, yawning, waiting for Neji to show her what the source of all the fuss. He drew open the curtains -
And Hinata gasped.
Her astonished eyes refused to believe it at first, but after a long moment of silence, she finally came to accept that the sight before her was real. Her heart hammering in her throat, she opened the window. At once, a cold draft billowed in, but she took no notice of it. She stared out in wonder, a joyful smile spreading across her face.
Quickly, Hinata grabbed some clothes from her closet and ran into her bathroom to change. Neji raised his eyebrow slightly and shook his head in amusement, a small smile tugging at the corner of his lips. And she refused to wake up before, he thought.
Hinata burst out of the bathroom, dressed in slightly baggy pants and a dark green sweater of wool. Two wooly mittens concealed her petite hands, while a pair of white socks concealed her feet. Hinata smiled brightly, her face flushed with eagerness and her eyes sparkling with childish excitement.
"Neji-niisan! Let's go outside!"
"All right..." Neji sighed, wondering if the snow was worth all of this fuss. He reluctantly followed the eager girl out of the room, who practically flew down the stairs, grabbed her jacket from the coat hanger, and leapt outside.
Hinata couldn't stop herself from laughing - it was just too good to be true. The cold, soft snow rained softly from the sky and dropped onto her pale face. She twirled around in the snow, her arms spread out widely. "It's actually snowing!" she cried out. She ran out of her front yard and hurried down the sidewalk, her arms still wide open.
Neji reluctantly followed his cousin, wrapping the silky scarf more tightly around his neck. It was obvious he was not happy about the weather.
"Sakura-chan was right..." Hinata's eyes widened and her mouth hung open in awe. "Tokyo is really beautiful when it snows at night! Isn't it pretty, Neji-niisan?"
"I suppose so," Neji said glumly. Something about his voice made her smile vanish quickly.
"Neji..." Hinata turned around and gazed at him with a small frown on her face. His cold behavior whenever they spoke of snow had always bothered her. She intended to find out the reason why he hated snow. "Why...why do you resent snow?"
"I don't resent it."
"But...you always seem to have negative feelings towards snow."
"...All right. I admit it - I resent snow." Neji looked away in discomfort, his hands in the pockets of his pants.
"Well, if you must know..." Neji untied his headband slowly, and a gasp rose from Hinata's throat as she gazed in shock at the long scar that glared angrily at her.
"N-Neji - ?!"
"It's no big deal..." Neji slowly wrapped his headband around his head once more. "I got this scar when I was a child...on a snowy night just like this...the night my father died." Neji paused, a faraway look in his sorrowful eyes. "I had always blamed the snow for the car accident. The driver of the car who crashed into us...I didn't blame him. I blamed the snow. I-I don't know why. I always thought that if it hadn't snowed, everything would have been fine.
I grew up resenting snow...and even though I know it was simply my father's fate to pass away so early...I always tried to blame what happened to him on snow..."
Hinata's white eyes regarded him sadly. So that was why he always wore a headband. So that was why he was always uncomfortable whenever she mentioned snow. She had never known...
Had she hurt him whenever she brought up the topic of snow? All this time, she was always thinking of herself - her selfish longing for snow...and she hurt him in the process. She hadn't meant to...
"I-I'm sorry, Neji...I never knew - perhaps, we should just go inside right now - "
"You have nothing to be sorry for." Neji shook his head. "On the contrary, I'm the one who should be sorry." Neji smiled softly. "It's Christmas...and this was what you wanted for Christmas, didn't you? I have no right to take your happiness away for my selfish desires."
"...A-are you sure?"
"Yes, I'm sure."
Hinata looked down at the ground, still awkward about discovering the true reason why her cousin disliked the snow. She tried to think of something to say that would take both of their minds off the topic.
"Ah, I wonder...?" A soft giggle escaped her lips as she knelt down and scooped a pile of cold, soft snow into her palms. "I wonder if making sculptures with snow is just as easy as making sand castles out of sand...or flour castles out of flour," she added with a quiet, good-natured laugh, remembering the memorable events from the morning.
"Let's find out." Neji knelt down with her and started piling up a small amount of snow.
"Neji...?" Hinata looked at him, surprised. She had thought he would never want to associate with snow in any way.
"I hear that when it snows, you can make lots of different things - like snowmen and snow angels."
Hinata smiled. "Oh? That sounds like fun!" she commented happily. She began to create a small sphere out of the snow before she paused and cocked her head in puzzlement. "But...how exactly do you make snowmen?"
"I have no idea," Neji admitted, embarrassed. He looked at the small sphere that Hinata had just created. "But I think that's how you do it. I'm assuming that you create three spheres with the snow - one for the head, one for the upper half, and one for the lower half. And I believe you need to make the lower half the largest sphere...and the upper half is fairly large...and the head should be the smallest out of the three. Am I correct?"
"I have no idea," Hinata confessed, giggling, "but I think that's how you do it."
They laughed heartily and got to work. Hinata quickly finished with the upper half of the snowman and helped Neji with the lower half. They rolled the lower half and continued packing it over and over with snow until it was a rather extremely large sphere. Hinata lifted the upper half and set it carefully onto the lower half. After Hinata did her part, Neji picked up the head and placed it cautiously on top of the upper half. They both stepped back to study the unfinished snowman.
"A-ah!" Hinata quickly ran over to support the upper half and head, for they had trouble standing erect. ''N-Neji! I think we need some kind of object to support both sides of the head and upper half...or else they'll slide off."
Neji looked around and his eyes enlightened slightly at the sight of several branches that had fallen off from nearby trees. He picked up a few branches, broke them each in half, and presented them to Hinata.
"Will these do?"
Hinata smiled. "Let's find out!"
They both placed sticks down the center where the sections met and stepped back to study the snowman.
"Perfect!" Hinata beamed.
"The snowman needs a face," Hinata remarked thoughtfully, studying the ground for anything to use for the eyes. Several stones scattered the ground, but Hinata was choosy - she wanted to use identical stones for the snowman's eyes. Finally, she settled on two rocks of the same color, yet not the same size. She pressed both rocks into the small sphere and smiled.
"Now...we need a mouth and a nose," Hinata spoke softly, seeming as if she were speaking more to herself. "A stick will do just fine."
Neji watched silently as Hinata got to work to find the best-looking twig. She found a somewhat thin one that curved at the ends and pinned it onto the face of the snowman.
"Now we need to give it a nose. A stick would be all right, but it'd look awfully plain. Oh...there must be something we can use for the nose!"
Neji frowned at the disappointed expression on his cousin's face as she scanned the ground intently. If only there was something I could do...
He sighed inwardly, shoving his hands into his jacket -
Eh? he thought, arching an eyebrow as he felt something thin and solid. He pulled out a candy cane. Oh...? The candy cane Tenten gave me -
"N-Neji?" Hinata appeared before him abruptly.
He blinked, startled. "Y-yes, Hinata-sama?"
"Umm...do you...intend to eat that?"
"No. Tenten gave this to me for Christmas. I took it out of politeness." Neji sighed. "I don't care much for sweets. Do you want it?"
Neji raised an eyebrow. "I thought that you didn't care for sweets, either -?''
Hinata laughed. "Neji...I don't."
Neji blinked in surprise. "Then, wha -?''
He stopped mid-sentence as Hinata pressed the curved part of the candy cane below the eyes of the snowman. Neji's lips twitched with amusement as he shook his head.
"Oh. Very creative."
Hinata giggled softly at his casual remark. "But he still looks so plain...!" she sighed in dismay, biting her lower lip. "He's missing something."
"Oh? You decided on its gender?"
Hinata laughed again. "Yes. It is a male snowman. I'll think of a name later, but I think we should finish designing him first, don't you?"
"I suppose so." Neji shook his head again.
Together, they picked up sticks and pushed them into the sides of the upper half. Hinata got the idea of using stones for the buttons down the snowman's front. Neji, shaking his head yet again, followed along.
They both stepped back and stared at the snowman. Neji looked at Hinata, expecting her to beam and make some triumphant remark - yet to his surprise, there was a disappointed look on her face.
"There's still something missing..." Hinata sighed quietly. She remained quiet for a while before she smiled. "I think I have an idea -"
Carefully, she took off her boots. Neji's eyes widened in shock as his jaw hung open.
"Don't worry, I'll be fine." Hinata placed the boots at the bottom of the lower half. She giggled. "A-ah, the snow feels so soft and cold under my feet!"
"You could catch a cold," Neji said disapprovingly.
Hinata merely smiled. "That's okay. If I do, you'll take care of me, won't you, Neji?" she laughed playfully.
Neji looked away and a pink tint crept across his pale face. "W-well..." he stammered under his breath.
"We can use my mittens for his hands!" Hinata continued on, not noticing the embarrassed look on her cousin's face. She removed her mittens and hung them on the ends of the sticks protruding out of the sides of the upper half.
"You'll catch a cold..." Neji mumbled stiffly.
Hinata pretended not to hear his remark and stepped back to admire her work. "It looks nice, but it still looks like it lacks something..." Hinata's voice drifted off. She gazed wistfully at the snowman. "But...I don't know what..."
Neji sighed inwardly. He hated it when she looked sad like that. He had to do something.
He removed his headband and wrapped it around the snowman's forehead. Hinata gasped lightly, covering her mouth with one hand as she gazed in shock at Neji.
"It fits him perfectly," Neji said calmly, trying to ignore the strange feeling of the breeze brushing against his bare forehead. He then removed his scarf and wrapped it around the snowman's neck. "Doesn't he look dashing?" he asked, a tint of sarcastic playfulness in his voice.
Hinata giggled. "Neji...you always know the right things to say and do to make me smile."
As she went up closer to the snowman to have a better look, Neji stared at her silently, his eyes wide. Hinata-sama...-
"Neji, I think we should work on something else now. I want to make the best out of my first experience in the snow!"
Neji looked at the snowman. "Did you give him a name yet?"
"Oh? Oh, yes. I named him," Hinata smiled happily, "Neji."
"Wh-what?! Are you serious?" Neji deadpanned.
"Well...in a strange sort of way, he looks like you...you know, with the headband and scarf."
He didn't know whether to be insulted or flattered.
"Hnn. Am I considered in the same league as...as...this?" Neji gestured to the snowman spitefully.
"W-well, Neji," Hinata murmured quietly, wringing her hands to warm them up, "you helped me create him...so this creation is very special." Hinata turned her back on him and ran to an open area of snow. "Neji, let's make some snow angels!" she called over her shoulder.
Neji stared at her retreating back, dumbfounded. Special...? This, Neji looked at the snowman, is special because I helped her create it? So...does that mean...?
"All right, all right...!" Neji hurried to where Hinata was and found her sitting on the ground, gazing about.
"Neji...do you know how to make a snow angel?"
He flinched. "No. Up until now, I never spent any time in the snow," he mumbled rather sourly.
Hinata's face fell. "Oh."
There she goes again, Neji thought, making that pitiful, irresistibly adorable face of hers...
"However...I do remember Tenten telling me such things when she visited Hokkaido for the first time." Neji tapped his chin thoughtfully while Hinata's face brightened. "I remember her explaining to me in detail about the things she did at Hokkaido...ah, yes...I believe this is how..."
His voice drifting off, Neji plopped down onto the ground and spread out his arms. "And then you..." Neji mumbled under his breath, moving his arms and legs vertically.
"Ahh, Neji! It's working! You're creating a snow angel!" Hinata gestured to the snow angel below him, her eyes dancing with eagerness.
"I am?" Neji got up and looked down. "Oh. I did," he muttered blankly, somewhat feeling foolish and ashamed.
Hinata giggled. "That looked fun," she remarked excitedly, falling onto her back. She moved her arms and legs vertically, just as she had seen Neji do. She sat up abruptly and looked down at the ground. "It worked!" she exclaimed happily.
Hinata suddenly frowned and rubbed her arms. "It's cold...!" she whispered, shivering. "My feet and fingers feel dreadfully numb...!"
"Hnnn." Neji gave her a look that clearly said, I told you so.
"But I don't want to go back inside...I want to stay out here in the snow just for a bit longer." Hinata gazed up at the snowy heavens, a soft smile spreading across her pale face.
Hinata-sama...was this one Christmas wish so important to you? Neji stared silently at his cousin, his eyes softening. Why...?
"I can't believe it...Kami-sama actually granted my Christmas wish." Hinata got onto her knees, pressed her palms together, and closed her eyes softly. "Thank you, Kami-sama...!"
Neji noticed the way she shivered, even under her thick jacket. He considered telling her to go back inside her house, but he knew what her response would be. His jacket wouldn't probably be much of a help, either. There was only one thing left to do...
The male Hyuuga sighed. Why did things like these always happen to him?
He drew closer to his cousin, who still had not spoken or moved at all, and wrapped his arms around her, earning a sharp, small gasp from the startled girl.
"You're going to catch a cold," was the only thing he could say. To his relief, the stiffness in her form gradually faded as she came to accept his embrace. A sleepy, peaceful atmosphere drifted over the night.
She smelled so nice, Neji thought absentmindedly, and she felt so small and soft and warm...
"Hinata-sama," he finally spoke up quietly. He paused, trying to think of the right words to say. "Why...why did you want it to snow so badly?"
Hinata blinked in surprise at his question. Then she laughed softly and tucked her head against his shoulder. Her gentle, steady breath warmed his cold, bare neck.
"I always wondered what the snow was like," she smiled softly, "and I wanted to share my first experience in the snow with someone special.
"Neji..." Hinata snuggled closer to his broad, warm form. "Thank you. This is the best Christmas I've ever had."
Surprise swept over the male Hyuuga as he stared down at the petite girl, who had closed her eyes and seemed to be sleeping. A soft smile spread across Neji's face as he tightened his gentle hold.
"I'm glad I was able to share it with you."