Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto.

(A.N: For SephirothBeatrix. Happy birthday Sephy-chan!)

Secrets of a Rose
By Silver Sailor Ganymede

Truth be told, Ino really didn't like being left in charge of her parents shop, especially not on days as quiet as this. Sure she knew that her parents were busy so she had to keep the business open and whatever else they told her, but to be honest she really didn't care. People were just such a bore sometimes, and she really would rather have had being doing something else… something like training so she could graduate and become a genin, but her father didn't really seem to think that, that was important. Well what did he know anyway?

She sighed and put her head down on the desk, breathing in the perfume of the flowers and wondering how long it was before she fell asleep. The past week had been pretty hectic with people making preparations for Valentine's Day, but now it had gone dead. Sure there had been some people hurriedly buying flowers because Valentine's Day was tomorrow, but really it had been very quiet.

Ino started out of her state of half-sleep when the bell above the door rang as the door creaked open, letting a sudden draft of freezing air blow into the shop. She looked up and was somewhat surprised to see Hyuuga Hinata standing there. Ino vaguely knew Hinata; the other girl was in her class at the academy. They'd only spoken a few times – Hinata was very quiet, even more than Sakura, but Ino had to admit that she quite liked the other girl.

"Hey Hinata," Ino grinned and got up from behind the counter, glad that she finally had someone to talk to, "You looking for flowers for someone? It's Valentine's tomorrow after all."

Okay, so what if that was a bit of a stupid question? Of course Hinata was here to buy flowers; why else would she be there? Hinata nodded, blushing a little.

"So, any idea what kind of flowers you want?" Hinata shook her head. "What kind of guy are you planning on sending them to?"
Hinata blushed and whispered something that Ino could hardly hear.

"What was that?" Ino asked.

"Strong… brave…" she blushed even deeper.

"And does he know you like him?"

Hinata, now blushing a furious shade somewhere between vermilion and violet, shook her head repeatedly.

"Okay…" Ino replied. "You know that flowers have their own language, right? They can wordlessly tell secrets, reveal them but keep them forever, if you understand what I mean by that…" Hinata nodded slowly but didn't say anything. "Want me to help you pick them?" Another nod.

Ino let her eyes take in the myriad of colours of the flowers in the shop, when finally her eyes fell on a few that caught her attention. She picked them up and handed them to Hinata.

"This one's a red carnation, it signifies admiration. The white carnation if for pure love, and the white crysanthemum means truth. The acacia signifies a secret love. I think this looks nice, don't you?"

Hinata nodded, blushing even further as Ino handed the flowers over to her. The pearl-eyed girl quickly handed Ino the money in exchange for the flowers, then almost ran out of the shop, her face burning redder than the roses that lay all around them.

Ino shook her head, wondering exactly why the other girl was acting like that. She didn't know whom it was that Hinata was planning to give the flowers to, though she was willing to bet that it was Sasuke. Everyone loved Sasuke, didn't they? Then again this was Hinata, and for some reason it didn't quite fit.

From the way Hinata had been blushing so much around her, Ino almost began to think that she was the one Hinata liked. She laughed it off; no, she couldn't be. What a riddiculous idea, that just wouldn't happen…

Ino went back to work, and the peculiarities of Hinata's visit were soon all but gone from her mind. Almost gone but not quite, there was such thing as wishful thinking after all.

Hinata was out of breath by the time she arrived by the river that ran its way through her family's home. The Hyuugas owned a lot of land, as was to be expected from a family that old and noble, and the weather was freezing so Hinata had no need to worry about being disturbed. She doubted whether anyone else came to this part of the river anyway. It wasn't particularly beautiful on first sight, but it was calming and Hinata came there when she needed to think.

Then there were the rose bushes, and that's what Hinata liked most. The scent of the roses was even more calming than the sound of the running river beside her, and the roses themselves were a wondrous shade of red. Not red like blood, that disturbed her somewhat, but red like the sky at sunrise or sunset. A peaceful red, a calming red; a beautiful shade of red she had never seen on any other rose.

Remembering exactly why she had run all the way to that particular spot, Hinata glanced down at the flowers she had clutched in her hand. It was such an unusual selection of blooms: normally that would have been nice, but not now. She had just wanted something that was anonymous, something so that the person she was sending the flowers to would never guess who had sent them. It didn't help that the person she wanted to give the flowers to just happened to be the one who had helped her pick these out. No, it was far too obvious; she had to do something else, but what?

Her gaze again went over to the rose bushes and she smiled. Yes, it was perfect; the flowers were beautiful enough, they fit exactly. Why hadn't she thought of that before?

She reached out and picked one of the roses, its thorns digging into her hand and drawing ruby-like drops of blood from her. She winced in pain momentarily then held up the rose. A pity there was nothing that could be done about the thorns… But Hinata thought that the rose was beautiful even for its thorns, she just hoped the person she was sending it to would agree with her opinion on it.

Yes, the rose was perfect; the rose was beautiful and Ino would never know that she was the one that had sent it.

By the time she had sat down at her desk in class, Ino had finally remembered just why she hated Valentine's Day so much. Sure it was nice to be flattered, but after the first twenty times it got really annoying. The last guy had tried to kiss her so she kicked him, hard, where it hurt the most, hoping that they'd all get the message after that. It seemed to have worked for the last five minutes, but Ino wasn't sure how much longer it would last.

It was then that Ino noticed the flower lying on her desk. It was a rose, beautiful but for the thorns that barbed it, making it hard for her to hold. Ino picked it up, careful not to prick her hands on its thorns, and breathed in its sweet perfume. This single rose was beautiful, a beautiful cliché as its petals blossomed out in front of her, forever in bloom. Still even the cliché of a rose was appreciated; it showed that someone was actually interested in her rather than just the way she looked. It was nice to be thought about. She smiled.

Meanwhile Hinata sat in the corner of the room, wondering whether Ino would figure out who had sent the rose to her. In her heart Hinata knew that Ino would never figure it out; flowers were meant to hold wishes and secrets after all, and some secrets were never to be told after all.