The Beginning of the End, my friends

I hope you all enjoy. Take note, this is a draft just like all previous chapters.

Read. Review.


Breathless, the oxygen was too cold to drag in, it was freezing her throat, but that didn't matter, because inside she was burning, her whole body a shivering sensation of mixed frustration and panic… and anger… hatred? Was it hatred? She almost pulled back from that feeling, but stopped at the sight of Hinata's own murderous expression.

There was something frightening about it. Her sister's eyes had narrowed dangerously, like a cat's gaze shortening into slits of wary threat.

"Use it!" Hinata hissed suddenly, as if reading her mind, ramming into her so forcefully her body almost crumbled, but lesson after lesson about avoiding solid impacts had drilled into her body the right reactions and she flipped, landing on a knee on the other side of the arena, catching a cry of pain as the rough material shoved it's sharp rocks into her skin.

There would be blood there soon.

Ignoring it she shoved herself up, grabbing a kunai and blocking Hianta's own strike, sparks flying at the contact. The sisters flickered, in and out of vision, even the Hyuuga's couldn't keep up. Sasuke standing in the shadows forced his eyes into Sharingan, studying each move with steadily increasing surprise.

They were far more agile than he had assumed…

Panting heavily Hinata blocked a kick, her forearms throbbing as she flipped backwards, landing at a crouch only to block again, her little sister's small body pushing for speed she hadn't dared to achieve before.

"Good." She grunted, ignoring the pain drilling into her.

Hanabi felt it, her control beginning to slip from her hands, a monster beginning to unravel inside of her. Endless nights of being tired, of being worn, of crying herself to sleep as her body ached, because of them… because of Them.

Her eyes flickered to the right, to the elders for half a second, and she regretted it as Hinata shoved forward, her fingers connecting with a chakra point on her shoulder, making her gasp in pain and stumble back, shuriken flying out of her hands to force her elder sister back.

Hinata flipped out of the way, impressed with the speed that the weapons had been deployed at. Locks of her dark hair were lying on the snow covered ground, cut off as she spun out of the way.

They stared at each other for a moment, breathing heavily. "…come. I stand in the way of what you want." Hinata snapped, ripping Hanabi out of her thoughts, all of them screaming at her to stop. She couldn't fight her sister… her sister would never-

"N-nani?" she whispered, frowning. "Y-you're not-"

"You've always wanted to be powerful, the title of heiress would give you everything you wanted."

With a flicker and a small warp of sound Hinata vanished from sight. Hanabi gasped, blocking a round kick aimed for her head.

"What are you talking about!?" she screamed, shoving her back, rushing after her as she stumbled, connecting solidly with her, knee to gut.

Hinata cringed, almost crumbling against her. Instead she kicked up, flipping over her shoulder, grabbing onto her small body, throwing her roughly over her head.

Hanabi let out a cry of shock as she hit the ground and skidded, flesh being ripped from her arms and side roughly, blood began to pour suddenly as she scrambled to her feet. Her black on black tunic in tatters on one side.

"You've always been happy to be the more powerful one!" Hinata stated again, making Hanabi's gaze widen and then narrow sharply as she ran forwards, hands flying through motions, flickering images of herself coming on either side of her. Three Hanabis, one Hinata.

"I have not!" She grunted, attacking her sister from all three sides.

Biting her lip Hinata hid her face, the agony there at having to rip her sister's calm to shreds, force her to hate her, if only for a little while…

I need you to hit me, I need you to show them, Hanabi…Neji knows.

Hinata's gaze flickered to her father, standing in the corner, eyes dead, studying each of them like they weren't his own flesh and blood, like they didn't matter, only their power mattered.

Anger bloomed inside her… her sister did matter.

You cold senseless bastard…

The impact of the real Hanabi's fist against her face was harsh, sending her flying backwards, her back and shoulder screaming as the rough ground tore at her clothes, ripping them until she came to a stop. Groaning in surprised pain she sat up, hands reaching to hold her shirt over her shoulder, the strap torn from the fall.

…If you don't prove your worth as a kunoichi, they'll marry you off too…

"Liar!" Hinata shouted back suddenly.

Hanabi stopped, having started heading towards her again.

For a moment they stood in silence, panting and breathless, blood pouring from both their open wounds, bruises already blossoming on their faces. Somewhere along the fight their shuriken had ripped at their faces, both of them had scratches from barely missed blades.

"…liar?' Hanabi whispered. Hinata let out a breath, the mist forming in front of her roughly, but her eyes weren't seeing that, they were focused on the chakra in her sister's body, beginning to move at a rapid unnerving speed. It danced between the snow flakes falling, making a light show as her elder sister's byakugan eyes watched, startled.

"Liar?" She whispered again.

Grunting in surprise Hinata shoved herself to her feet, startled by the ripple of chakra that marred the air as it passed through Hanaib's flesh and out into the physical world.

"…let's start this thing." Hanabi grunted suddenly, flickering out of sight again, Hinata smirked, lifting a forearm up to block a round kick. "Let's."

Silently she spun into her sister's kick, throwing an elbow into her stomach only to find small hands there to catch it. The fingers ran up her arm, making her cry out as chakra points were blocked sharply. With a gasp she spun again, her hook connecting with Hanabi's forearm as the girl blocked, faster than either of them had thought she could move.

Both their bodies were moving at high speed, each flickering motion going fast enough that everyone in the area had employed the use of their blood-line limits, studying the fight through their heightened gaze.

Letting out a cry of frustration Hanabi slammed her small hand into Hinata's lower back, only to miss as the older girl flipped over her head, landing at a crouch, kicking her feet from under her.

Another cry escaped her as she landed, only to toss more shuriken out, forcing Hinata back, kunai flashing in order to block each blade.

"I'm not a liar! I never wanted it! I don't want it-!" Hanabi sobbed, shoving herself to her feet quickly before Hinata moved, aching badly enough to slow down, wishing they could stop. She didn't want to fight anymore, she didn't want to do this anymore...

Her elder sister was faster, and it was obvious at that moment. In a flash she was standing in front of her little sister, kunai clenched in her hand, knowing what was running through her mind, the expression of desperate need obvious. It was time to stop… even if they hadn't reached their full potential. No where near it… but it was enough, any more and Hanabi's mind might shatter under the strain…

Hanabi gasped. She hadn't seen her move… hadn't even realized she wasn't standing where she was before…

A gust of wind whispered by, tossing their hair in a tangled mess over their faces. Hinata smiled at her, tears streaming down her bloodied face.

"I know…Hanabi-chan." She whispered. "That's why I'm going to take it."

Realization spread over the youngsters face suddenly, mouth opening to protest.

NO! Don't do it just for me! Onee-chan-!

Hinata flickered out of sight again, appearing behind her sister just as the words were tripping to escape her mouth. Without letting her say anything she shoved the kunai to her throat, her other hand slamming into chakra points down her neck and back, face twisting into a wince of agony as Hanabi's words were marred into a strangled cry of pain.

Her knees collapsed, but Hinata grabbed her, holding the kunai steady, even though her lips were trembling.

"…you're paralyzed…" she whispered, but in the silence everyone could hear quite clearly how her voice shook, even though they couldn't see her bury her face into her sister's shoulder to hide her tears. "Forfeit."

"No need for that." The elder's voice grunted suddenly, amused. "It's quite the obvious win."

Hinata didn't move, every muscle in her body a tense knot.

"…nonsense." A new voice stated, making relief flood Hinata's mind, slowly her hand began to let go of her sister's shoulder.

"Hanabi-sama proved to be a good match for someone four years her elder." There were soft murmurs as elders glanced over the two sisters with arrogant but new found interest.

Gently Hinata let her hand travel down her sister's neck and back, unlocking the chakra points, listening to Hanabi's whimpers as each point was allowed to flow steadily again.

"Gomen… gomen no sai, Hanabi-" Hinata began, flinching at the feel of hands taking her shoulders suddenly.

Expecting Sasuke she turned, only to find a servant, holding a blanket. "Hinata-hime." He bowed, eyes lowered. "There is a bath ready for both the ladies if you would wish to follow me."

Hinata started, looking around quickly, eyes searching through the crowd, nodding absently, trying to find Sasuke amongst the huge robes of the elders. The shadows began to darken as torches were snuffed out.

She stared around confusedly, still holding up her little sister, both of them wrapped up in the same blanket. Hanabi's face was buried in her shirt, soft whimpers of relief escaping her grasp, muffled so that the elders wouldn't hear.

Hinata's hands passed through her sister's hair, sticky with the blood they had shed and the melting snowflakes mixing with their sweat.

"…Hinata-hime?" the servant asked again, looking at her worriedly as she scanned the area again.

"…h-hai." She nodded, turning to look at him, her eyes huge… shocked.

Fifteen minutes… fifteen minutes and the work of over a year had passed by.

The agonies and nightmares and worried sleepless nights had been used up. All to end in fifteen short minutes?

She looked down at Hanabi, who sniffed slightly against her shoulder, turning to look up at her elder sister, face tear streaked and dirty. "…i-is it going to be okay?"

Hinata stared at her for a moment, aching to glance back again as they entered the household once more, led no longer like prisoners but like honored guests into the halls to bathe.

"…hai." She lied, panic marring her voice only slightly.

Sasuke? Where did you go?

"It's going to be fine."

Hanabi nodded, knowing full well she was lying. But even strong children like to pretend not to know things from time to time.


The door of the foyer opened, breaking the silence almost the way Sakura's punch had shattered the marble surface of the entrance.

All four shinobi within turned to look and froze at the sight of the Avenger, shaking snow from his dark hair, an aura so vastly negative that none of them moved.

"…S-sasuke…." Naruto began, jumping to his feet finally. "What happened?"

The Uchiha walked right by them, heading towards the door leading to the street, stuffing his hands in his pockets after he'd opened the door to the wild blizzard outside.

"…She won." He grunted, stepping outside and slamming the door shut.

The others stood, looking bewildered at one another. A few weeks ago, hearing that she had won would have been enough to make them jump for joy…

Now, they knew not what to do.


It was past midnight. She hadn't thought she would stay, actually she had told them she wasn't going to, but their all too logical retorts that the weather was murderous and that the heiress needed to be protected forced her to grind her teeth and storm back to her room.

The truth was also… that Hanabi had looked at her, wide eyed and panicked when she had said she would leave. Only they knew the kind of reception the small girl would receive from her father if Hinata left long enough for him to ask for it. Hiashi had vanished much like Sasuke after the battle, not staying long enough for the elders to rub it in his face that his 'prodigy' though very capable, was not as impressive as he had made her sound. It didn't matter… father was no longer important.

The bitter sweet taste of being in her old room was sickening at best, she looked around at the almost bare walls, the off white slightly pink curtains and small messy looking bed covered in small stuffed animals she had collected over the years, presents Kiba, Shino and Neji had given her on several occasions.

The room felt like she had walked backwards more than just a year, a few years, to grade two, perhaps.

Sighing heavily she flung herself back down onto the bed, staring up at the ceiling, wishing she knew what had happened.

Why Sasuke had…

Don't think about it, don't think about that- he's coming back, he probably left because… because…

Before she was forced to admit she had no reason on hand there was a knock at the door.

Startled the now fully legal heiress scrambled to her feet, walking over to the door with a frown before opening it a crack and staring in surprise at Hanabi, looking smaller and more young than usual in her pj's, the bruise she had gained from their fight making her cheek look several different shades of green, blue and purple.

"Hanabi-chan!" Hinata started in surprise, pulling the door open to let her in. "W-what's the matt-?" she froze, feeling the younger child wrap her arms around her waist, burying her face in her shirt again.

"…I can't sleep." Came the muffled reply.

Sighing softly Hinata nodded, patting her head before leading her over to the bed. Together the sisters curled up, Hanabi closer than she had usually done so in their earlier years. There was vulnerability about her that Hinata hadn't noticed before. It had obviously developed during the last year…

"…Nee-chan?" Hanabi whispered after a moment, when Hinata finally turned off the lamp and they lay in the darkness, only lit by the moonlight streaming in through the open window.

"Hm?" Hinata enquired, fingers running through the girl's hair quietly, listening to the sound of the wind rushing around the house outside violently.

"Where's Sasuke-san?"

To her credit Hinata kept her fingers moving, straining not to grow tense from the question. "…home, I assume."

"…you miss him."

Her fingers finally stopped moving through their relaxing touch, jaw clenching to keep it from showing how her voice could wobble as she spoke.

"…he'll come back." She replied, voice forcefully cheerful. "He…ano… he's probably gone back because someone has to take care of Sasu."

"Sasu?"

"…my kitten. You'll love him."

"You've a kitten? He let you have a kitten at his house?"

"…I think he secretly likes him." Hinata admitted, smiling ruefully. Hanabi giggled, almost surprised at herself. It had been a long time since she had done something that cheerful.

Sobering up because of the next thought that followed Hanabi sighed. "…Hinata… what are you going to do?" she whispered, her voice becoming steadily more mature. "…you're engaged to some cousin of ours now. What about Sas-?"

"Shss… we need to sleep." Hinata interrupted, surprising them both. Hanabi blinked in the dark at her, noting that her sister was staring up at the ceiling, eyes glittering.

It was only when the glitter spilled down her cheeks that she realized she was crying. Sighing softly Hanabi curled up against her tighter, holding her hand.

There was nothing else anyone could do about it.


He didn't go home that night, despite the blizzard and the already numbing feel of his hands freezing from the cold.

It didn't matter that he was probably going to be ill later and there would be no one home to take care of him like the few times before during the year that he had collapsed under the strain of too much work and not enough rest.

She had been there, smiling sweetly, shaking her head, but never saying out loud that he was silly for trying so hard. With sweet candy from her pocket and after their first kiss soft caresses to comfort his aching often feverish flesh he hadn't cared that he was spending too much time in bed resting rather than training…

Her touch beat training any day… but now-

Solid fist to solid wood, blood was the result, spilling from the cracks of his frost bitten bruised flesh. He didn't give his brain time to register it, swinging around to kick the post, shattering it in half, it was almost a clean crack, a lot smoother than anything Hinata had done in front of him. Her force came from shock of impact, the energy drilling 'into' the target, destroying precious things within, making it rot from the inside out.

He liked to make it explode, slice it and dice it into nothingness…

Though, if anyone asked, he'd have to admit her way was better, less flashy, more to the point… more pain. Though the last was probably not intended, on her part.

No, it wasn't intended, her questioning cries at his supposed disappearance from the courtyard after her fight had stated that. She didn't mean to rip his heart out and impale it on that battle ground unknowingly destroying him the moment she defeated her own sister.

It was strange… he had always rooted for her to win against Hanabi. Siblings rivalries were something he knew about, quite well. Hinata deserved to win in his mind, but the moment she did so it was sickening, the sensation almost enough to make him want to vomit.

She was engaged.

She was out of his reach.

…and maybe he wanted it that way.

The rough kick suddenly turned into a flip, he landed on the severed post at a crouch, brooding enough that if anyone walked by they would turn the other way in hopes of avoiding death. Everything about him resonated a self hatred dangerous enough to make him flinch at himself.

The cold of the horizontal flow of snow wasn't as freezing as his own thoughts.

It wasn't that he didn't want her. I need her.

It wasn't that he didn't think there was a way. I can find it.

It wasn't that he didn't care for her anymore. …I love her.

It was, simply, that…. I'm not strong enough, for her…

Itachi.

His fist connected with the post again, blood spilled.

It was going to be a long night.


There was something disgusting about having to wake up and find herself staring into the face of several servant girls, all of whom were crooning at the obvious affection between Hanabi and the heiress who shared a bed in order to stay warm and keep each other's thoughts from being too lonely.

Hanabi only lifted her head up from the pillow and studied them thoughtfully, looking for all the world accustomed to the sight.

Hinata, usually a morning person, had a lot of trouble keeping her own council.

"Why are you all in my room?" she snapped, grabbing her blankets and shoving them up over her chest, her shirt buttons had come undone, a good amount of flesh showing from twisting and turning all night without sleep.

"She's so modest, our Hime-sama." One of the girls giggled, Hinata fixed her with a lavender glare that might have been more impressive if she didn't look so tired and wasn't blushing so hard.

"We're here to get you ready." One of the older women commented, walking over and flinging the curtains open to let the sun light of the winter day flood the room. "It's almost noon."

Hanabi growled and hid under the covers, wrapping her arms around her sister's waist underneath the heavy material.

Hinata didn't react, looking uneasily at them all. "Ready for what?"

She should have known not to ask.

Somehow amongst being shoved out of bed, into a shower, into clothing that felt much too stiff and into a separate sitting room in which her breakfast was, Hinata found little time to think of anything other than not choking on the soap, not snapping at the servant girl who chattered without stopping and not throwing her food out the window in a childish tantrum.

Before, while being a member of the family she had never been treated as such, but Hanabi stated with a soft sigh as she sat across from her in the sitting room to eat breakfast as well, she had not been heiress before, not officially, she had not been of age.

Seething in a manner that no one in the household had ever seen, she sat throughout the breakfast, touching nothing, wondering briefly when she would be allowed to leave only to find that the elders expected an audience with the new heiress as soon as she was finished eating.

Giving the plate of very tempting porridge and canned peaches a glare that might make them rot, said heiress stood slowly, ignoring the desperate desire to burst into tears and run out of the house towards Sasuke's own house, ignoring as well the servant girl's protests.

"Hime-sama! Demo, breakfast!"

"No." Hinata snapped, slamming the door closed, making the girl jump a foot in the air. Hanabi smirked, munching on her own toast silently, savoring the taste of actual food on her tongue after so many months of eating only odd liquid potions.

"…I'd be careful if I were you." the other princess commented, munching greedily. The servant girl only paled.


"Neji-sama." Hinata started, staring at her cousin, standing outside of the room, waiting patiently.

He stared at her, looking as if frozen and unable to think of what to do, which happened to be exactly the problem.

Shocking them both he hugged her, ignoring her body stiffening in his grasp. "N-neji-" Hinata started, blinking over his shoulder in surprise.

"Ne, are you all right?" he stated instead, ignoring their equally red cheeks as he pulled back to study her face, counting the scratch marks on her skin and bruises on her neck and exposed flesh with clever Hyuuga eyes.

"Fine." Hinata replied softly, lowering her eyes to the floor. "Nothing is broken, at least."

For a moment her cousin was silent, studying the downward curve of her lips.

"…how is your heart, Hime-sama?"

For a moment the girl was still, staring down at their shoes in the shadows of the hallway, wishing she could cry.

"I'm f-fine." She whispered, her stutter betraying the truth despite her best intentions to keep herself in check. Her shoulders shook slightly.

Letting out a sigh Neji pulled her in again, mind working rapidly. There had to be a way around the mess.

"We'll find a solution."

"H-hai." Hinata agreed, mentally disagreeing, smiling weakly at his attempt to get her to hope.

Silently her almost brother sighed and turned to look down the hall. "The elders want an audience with you." he muttered. "I'm your escort."

"I need an escort inside my own house?" Hinata frowned, following him down the hall. Neji smirked, glancing over his shoulder at her. "…I have a feeling they fear you will disappear."

Hinata smiled back weakly at him, finding within herself a cocky remark, listening almost as Sasuke's voice said it in her head.

"And they only sent you to stop me?"

Her cousin rolled his eyes, turning away again to lead her down the hall. "…definitely his girlfriend."


"Sasuke?!" Sakura's voice echoed down her hallway, making Ino and Naruto jump to their feet at the cry, running from the kitchen to the door.

Sasuke stepped into the med nin's house silently, nursing frostbitten fingers, bleeding fists and looking more pale than any of them had ever seen.

Naruto started, gaping at him for a moment before gasping out. "Teme! You look like shit!"

"Shut up, dobe."

"Help me get him to the kitchen." Sakura grunted, tugging one of his arms over her shoulder. The smell of blood clung to him, he had ripped open more than his wrists, his shins too were a bloody scabbed mess.

"What the hell were you doing all night?' Naruto snapped, throwing him down less than gently onto a kitchen chair. "Training? Dattebayo- what were you trying to do? Commit suicide?"

The awkward silence that followed made Ino pale rapidly. "A-a-ano… Sasuke-kun, shouldn't you be with-"

"Shut up. She's engaged."

The silence that followed that statement was a few thousand times worse than the first, making all of their eyes widen in awe.

"D-demo!" Sakura gasped, shoving herself to her feet. "She doesn't want to-!"

"What part of 'shut up' is hard for you people to understa-?"

Without warning Naruto's fist slammed into his face, cutting him off, making the already beaten man stumble off the chair and into a wall, eyes locating his opponent with ease. "Naruto, what the f-?"

"You're giving up on her already! What the hell!?" Naruto snapped back, shoving him back against the wall. His words were by far more damaging, making the Uchiha avenger stare, onyx eyes wide in his face.

"What if she's waiting for you to do something, you idiot?" Naruto continued, hands tight around Sasuke's shirt neck. "I'm betting she wouldn't have agreed to win the damned fight if you didn't tell her to." His eyes narrowed. "Am I right?"

"…you need to win this." He breathed in, that scent of lavender and softness, the texture of her smooth skin against his fingers as he traced her neck gently, memorizing the sensation.

"…you need to concentrate on this. Win the fight, earn the title. We'll deal with the rest afterwards."

It amazed him that he sounded so steady and certain when his heartbeat was going at a million miles per second, and a soft voice inside his head was laughing nervously, knowing full well there was no way to deal with it afterwards.

For a moment no one moved, letting the Avenger process what was happening. Slowly he closed his eyes, looking for half a moment like he might actually say something soft, maybe even thankful…

"Get your damned hands off me, dobe."

Smirking Naruto complied, shoving just a bit as a bonus as he let go. "Teme."

Sasuke smirked right back, wiping the blood from his lip silently, mind tripping over itself, working at a slow pace despite his genius.

He's right, find a way-

What fucking way? She's heiress!

And what am I? The last Uchiha. More than just an heir…

Itachi wil-

Itachi can go to hell… I love her.

…I love her…

Without another word he turned around, heading back out the door into the calm winter day outside, snow covered everything but there was no wind, and no snowfall.

"N-nani? Where are you going?! Sasuke- I have to treat those wounds!" Sakura gasped, stopping only when Naruto pulled her back, allowing Sasuke to slam the door closed as he left.

"Naruto!"

"Let him go." He smirked, nuzzling her neck, making her stop struggling instantly. "He's gone to get his girl, the guy deserves to look a little banged up."

"…I'm gonna end up looking banged up if that upsets Hinata." Sakura grumbled, sulking.

Ino gagged, moving towards the living room. "You all make me sick."


"You will be meeting your fiancé." The elder smiled, yellowing aged teeth pulled into a sneer of satisfaction. "He is a distant cousin of yours, I believe you've never met."

Hinata looked up at her, the stiff kimono she was wearing feeling more and more like it was tightening around her chest, making it hard to breathe.

She did not reply, frightened by the possibility that the monster from the night before would come up again to make the situation worse for her and Sasuke. She had been so easily irritated, so careless with her words, but then again she had had nothing to loose the night before…

Now… everything.

"You should be very pleased with the match, he's strong enough to support someone of such easily sparked temper as yours." One of the men in the room grunted, peeking at her through bushy eyebrows.

Hinata's lips pressed into a thin line of irritation.

In other words his temper is worse than mine… he will try to crush me.

However the idea didn't fit in her mind, she couldn't be engaged. She couldn't be engaged to someone else at least, it didn't make sense. And even if she was, it wasn't going to actually happen, she wasn't going to marry someone she had never met before… she wasn't going to let them touch her, kiss her… pretend to love her.

It was a good thing she hadn't eaten anything for breakfast, her stomach lurched, forcing her to close her eyes, calming her body slowly.

Don't panic, don't panic…

The elders continued to speak, sitting around in that huge empty room with a skylight that they seemed to like so much. It was that tactic, of sitting above others. She was sure it made them feel special.

"… he has already stated that he thinks you quite beautiful…"

"…was impressed with the many achievements mentioned from travelers…"

"….your battle with the Akatsuki shinobi…"

Heart pounding rapidly Hinata stood abruptly, hand to her mouth. "Pardon my rudeness, excuse me." She mumbled, turning around to leave, startling everyone in the room into silence, including her father who stood in the shadows, watching silently as his daughter held herself with more presence than she had in her entire life, even half sickened by the situation.

The moment the door closed after her the elder woman began to laugh, a loud cackling sound that forced the others to crane their necks in order to look at her.

"She's terrified out of her wits, but the clever little vixen refuses to show it." She wheezed between loud laughter. "I'm impressed. She's a good candidate. It's too bad that idiot Toki is the only cousin of hers far enough away for her to marry."

"Mixing blood with any other clan is not an option." The men grunted, eyeing the woman with vague distaste. Her power in the Elder's Council was undeniable, but not appreciated.

"Nonsense, the only trouble is the utter lack of good clans with which to mix. The Hyuuga Byakungan will begin loosing it's strength…" she muttered, rubbing at a temple silently, eyes closed, suddenly no longer amused. "It has reached it's peak."

"…just because the wielders can sometimes see past the present does not mean it has reached it's peak." One of the elders grunted softly, making the woman hiss at him to shut up, glancing sharply at Hiashi who looked back at her, stunned.

"Tongues wag heavy with delicious tidbits of information, isn't that so, Hiashi-sama." She sighed, leaning her chin on her hand, studying him.

"Get out of the shadows." She added. The man frowned at her, feeling more and more like he was being pushed roughly aside, the heiress, his daughter, becoming more and more the center of attention… and respect.

Silently he complied however, looking at them with masked interest.

"…I assume you're dying to know what is being spoken of." She smirked, looking sideways at the elder that had let the words slip. He looked down, frowning at his own aged boots.

Hiashi did not reply, stoic and silent as always.

"The Byakugan moves to see what is far beyond." The woman continued, looking out beyond him it seemed, as she spoke. "We are beings that can stretch our sight far and wide, while studying the last of the pure Byakugan line we've come to the realization that manifestations of the future have been found in several of the newer children, however… the stronger generation, that of Hinata's mother was the one to see it clearly. Your daughters see tidbits." She grunted. "You're too old for such a gift." She added.

Hiashi didn't reply, going over his own thoughts carefully, straining to understand each word said.

"…since when was this known?" he began, sounding irritable.

The elder shrugged. "A few years. We intend to ask the new heiress about it soon." She smirked.

A knock on the door made her turn towards it, masking her eagerness with boredom.

"Ah, and here she comes."

The door opened slowly and a servant poked his head into the room, blinking at them for half a second before bowing respectfully.

"My elders." He murmured, straightening after a moment. "Uchiha Sasuke is in the foyer, and has requested an audience… I knew not what to say…"

"Uchiha." The woman blinked, along with the rest of the elders. "How odd."

"He trained Hinata." Hiashi grunted, looking sideways from the room, irritated. "He's probably come back to gloat and ask for payment."

"Well deserved." One of the quieter elders muttered. 'From what I hear nothing done by anyone else managed to get that child of yours to hit her potential until now, not even you, Hiashi-sama." He grunted, turning to look at the not so young man with heavily lidded eyes. "It is his right."

Sighing the woman shrugged, waving her hand. "Allow him in then, I suppose."

The servant nodded, turning around to head back into the hall. A few moments later Sasuke stepped into the room. He had made a point to stop at home and change into something that wasn't bloodstained and ripped, his hands and wrists bandaged but invisible under the gloves and heavy jacket he wore, hands stuffed into the pockets of his long black coat.

He didn't bow, looking at them calmly instead, dark eyes studying each of them the same way they had all studied him the night before.

"Uchiha-san."

"Sama, actually." He corrected slowly, realizing suddenly that he was indeed the only Uchiha-sama left. He owned everything.

He owned as much as they all did… collectively.

If his pride needed boosting, that certainly did the trick.

The elders frowned at him, collectively as well, all busy elderly brows pulled together at once.

"Uchiha-sama." The elder allowed, nodding. "I did not realize you were of age."

"Last summer."

"That is a good time ago."

"Hn."

"What is it you want, Uchiha-sama?" one of the other elders snapped impatiently, tired of playing games. "Payment for your work on the new heiress? Out admittance that your deceased clan deserved some respect? Gratitude? A title?"

"Your heiress." Sasuke interrupted the list, blurting it out rather abruptly, making even Hiashi stare.

"As in…" the elder woman began slowly, staring at him, usually she would have been laughing but it was such a serious matter there was nothing to laugh about. "Marriage?"

"That would be correct."

"Demo!"

"Impossible, she is engaged!" another elder snapped, sitting up sharply in his chair. "We cannot give what has already been-"

"You owe me." Sasuke cut in, looking for all the world bored. "And there is no reason to refuse me, I am far higher ranked than any cousin she may have seeing as she is to be the highest ranked in 'your' clan." His eyes dared them to contradict. "It would be an even match."

"I never did like that idiot Toki." The elder woman admitted, taking a hidden liking to the young man before her despite all appearances.

"He's Uchiha." Hiashi stated sharply, turning to look at the elders. "No daughter of mine is going to-"

"You happily disowned her, Hiashi." The elder woman snapped irritably. "Leave this to us."

Startled by the sharp slap to his pride Hiashi stood there, fuming, unable to say a word.

Sasuke looked at him, making no effort to veil his satisfaction.

"There is a problem as to your criminal records." One of the younger elders muttered softly, voice smoothing over the whole problem like a poison.

"You've betrayed this village… Hyuuga Neji was nearly killed in an attempt to bring you back."

Sasuke flinched. "I have proved my faith to this village before now, my sins have been erased, though not forgotten."

"You have no one of stature to vouch for your new found loyalty." The elder continued smoothly. "We cannot allow our heiress to marry anyone despite their wealth, and rank if they're believed to be apt to treasonous acts…"

The Avenger looked back at him in silence, looking about ready to tear his throat out when the door flung open, slamming into the wall hard enough to dent it, though that was ignored as a flurry of blonde hair and high heels stormed into the room.

Tsunade came to stop beside Sasuke, slamming a hand on his shoulder roughly, but affectionately. Sasuke stared at her, wondering briefly from what hole she had crawled out of, but… knowing Sakura and the others they had had something to do with the Hokage's sudden appearance.

She looked more travel worn than usual, and a little out of breath. "What did I miss?"

"Tsunade-sama." The elder woman started, a bit pleased though the others looked about ready to vomit from the shock. "To what do we owe the honor?"

"I hear Uchiha-san is asking for someone's hand." Tsunade smiled back just as cheekily, patting Sasuke's shoulder, ignoring the fact that he looked about ready to chop her hand off.

"And seeing as he's almost like a son, I'd like to be here."

The words left her mouth in an almost choked manner. She wanted to laugh. Sasuke didn't blame her. Son? As son? Tsunade his mother?

He wanted to go die somewhere.

"A son, hm?" the elder woman smirked, glancing side ways at the other elder who was chewing on this new piece of information like it was something he had picked off the ground.

"We were discussing his… negative history." He began slowly, voice thin.

"You mean the thing with Orochimaru?" Tsunade muttered, letting out a sigh. "That is a problem. However, Sasuke returned of his own volition, despite the rumors you may hear. And, as if to top it all off, the only reason he went in the first place was to attempt to gain enough power to avenge his clan." She looked at them thoughtfully. "A deep love of family, wouldn't you say?"

The elder winced, looking over at Sasuke as if he were a new thing that needed reanalyzing. Sasuke glared back at him silently.

"…I see."

"In any case." Tsunade smiled, knowing she had the ace under her sleeve. "I'll vouch for him."

Sasuke, along with everyone else turned to look at her, stunned.

He had just won.

Only… now he had to ask a certain pale eyed princess a very very difficult question…


"W-what do you mean… he is unable to come?" Hinata enquired slowly, looking at the servant girl with what she hoped was a confused expression and not a relieved one. The servant girl shrugged. "The elders only said that Toki-sama, your fiancé was unable to come to the ceremony and that you were free for the rest of the evening until dinner… though if you're still feeling this sick perhaps dinner should be something lighter than what is being served…"

"No, no… I'll be fine." Hinata muttered, straightening up from having thrown up again. The servant nodded and stepped back, closing the door behind her quietly.

Almost relieved enough to cry the new heiress leaned over the sink, letting cold water pool there before dunking her head in, letting out a scream in the liquid.

She was free of Toki, whoever that was, for another day…Though, truth be told the day was nearly over. She had run away from the elder's council room already an hour ago, refusing to return. Surprisingly enough however, no one came to drag her back kicking and screaming like she expected.

Sighing softly she lifted her face out of the freezing water, letting the tendrils of liquid drip down the side of her face, numbing her sore flesh. Hanabi's blows were something to be praised, her face would be aching for several weeks…

However that was the least of her worries. Mind working steadily she turned around and buried her face into the soft folds of the towel hanging on the elegant rack by the wink. She had to find Sasuke, she had to reach him somehow, ask what was going on…

Ask why he had left.

Throat tightening at the thought she threw the towel down, turning to stare at herself in the mirror, startled by her mother's face rather than her own.

Her eyes were red rimmed from constantly straining not to cry throughout the day, she looked tired, and the bruises were no help. Biting her lip at her reflection she reached up, undoing the loose braid to let her hair fall like a curtain around her shoulders, the pale creamy kimono contrasting sharply with her ink black tresses.

"…Oka-san." She whispered softly, leaning her forehead against the mirror, staring down at the egg white sink with gold taps. "…what am I going to do?"

The hue of light changed as the sun began to set suddenly, making her start and turn to look in the direction of the window.

Sunset? Had she spent more time throwing up than she realized? It seemed like only a few hours ago she had gotten up and been forced to ready herself for the elder's audience…

A knock on the door made her jump, turning away from the sun hiding between distant hills. "Onee-chan! Are you okay? One of the servant girls said you were sick!" Hanabi's voice called through the door, the handle was tested carefully, her sister jiggling it impatiently on the other side. "Onee-chan?'

"I'm all right, Hanabi." Hinata sighed, rubbing her face tiredly and moving to open the door, stepping out into the hallway, lit by blocks of the sun's setting light flooding the opposite wall of windows that lined it. "I… just didn't feel very good for a few minutes."

"Hours." Hanabi contradicted. "It's late."

"Ne?" Hinata sighed, turning to look out the window again as if her eyes truly hadn't wanted to acknowledge the setting sun. "It's really that late?'

"You really are sick." Hanabi muttered, reaching up to put her hand on her sister's forehead, shaking her head. "No fever…"

"I said I was fine."

"Tch." Hanabi grunted, sounding more like herself by the second, and, to Hinata's surprise, a little bit like Neji. "You've said that before and been lying."

"Hey!"

"Are you hungry? Or do you want juice or something? How about orange juice? I hear that might help."

"Ano.." Hinata began, allowing the little one to drag her down the hall. "I'm all right."

"It doesn't hurt to eat something. You didn't touch your breakfast." Hanabi continued to grumble, dragging the elder Hyuuga down the hallways. "I'll get the servants working on dinner." She continued.

Together they entered the older living quarters of the Hyuuga family. Hinata looked around curiously at the halls. It looked as though nothing had changed, the same framed images of past wars were still up on the dark walls, the same sounds of pots and pans in the kitchen echoed, the smell of cooking food drifting out from the open door. Light poured from the room into the hallway.

"I'll tell them to make something." Hanabi muttered. "You go get some fresh air." She added, noting the vague ill look passing over her sister's face.

"Hanabi." Hinata began sullenly. "I'm fine."

…I just need to desperately find Sasuke…

The expression on Hanabi's face however made that thought scurry into the shadows, leaving Hinata to focus on the almost-pout that passed over her little sister's bruised face.

"…I know…" Hanabi mumbled after a moment. "Demo, this is the first time in a long time… that I can be helpful."

They stood in silence for a long moment, Hinata staring at her in surprise, the memories of feeling utterly useless passing by her mind's eye a thousand a second.

"I'll go out, oh, and I'm craving something sweet." She added calmly, as if Hanabi hadn't just admitted feeling childishly miserable.

The little princess looked up, watching as her elder sister stepped out into the porch, winking at her quickly before closing the door.

Happily she grinned, and then to head back into the kitchen to order her sister's food to be made.


As soon as the door closed Hinata sighed, letting her features drop, rubbing her forehead gently, the frown there almost hurting.

Is this how Oka-san felt with me? Every moment a smile, a forced cheerfulness to keep me from knowing the misery she was enduring within the Hyuuga Household?

Without making a conscious decision her fist shot out, slamming into the wall of the porch, the solid wood frozen over by the cold weather.

It wasn't snowing and the wind was dead and non existent but it was freezing, the very air cold and making her teeth chatter in her head. But it was the one moment she had endured on her own aside from vomiting for hours, and not wanting it to end she remained, leaning her forehead against the wall.

Darkness was coming, a blanket of dark navy and twinkling stars to eat away at the sun. But she paid it no attention. The simplicity of it was a haven she couldn't afford to retreat to. The mess she was in demanded her attention, if she didn't focus… where would she be?

Her eyes welled up with tears. Probably sobbing on the floor, ne?

Soft footsteps on the room made her freeze, each tread so quiet it was hardly there, cushioned by the inches of snow that covered the roof's surface.

Nani...?

Slowly she turned around, her hands sliding into her kimono, pulling out the lone kunai she had been able to grab before being shoved out the door towards the elders. Slowly she breathed "Byakugan." Eyes focused on the roof, feeling the thickening veins on either side of her face as her vision turned a dull green.

The moment she focused on his face he jumped down, landing on the railing, balanced… elegant. Puffs of white left his mouth in handfuls, and his cheeks were particularly red, from the cold, she assumed.

Her hand only tightened on the kunai a little more, lavender eyes staring at him, every thought and emotion and physical strain flashing through her features in a few moments of silence.

Sasuke let out another breath, ignoring the mist around his face, he stepped down, landing on the porch lightly. Throat tight he finally whispered. "Hinata-"

It almost felt like an involuntary movement. The feel of her hand connecting with his cheek and the sound of the slap that echoed felt surreal.

Equally stunned as the young man before her she gasped, staring at his burning cheek, his face turned away slightly, eyes closed as if praying for patience.

Then the tears started, a heavy merciless flow of relief and released frustration. Whimpering she studied his face as he turned to look at her, no more angry than before. Calmly he waited, watching as the drops slid down her cheeks almost crystallizing on her skin.

"Where did you go?" she gasped, grabbing onto his shirt, burying her face in the material, breathing him in so forcefully it was like a cocaine addict after a long withdrawal.

"Y-you left, I c-couldn't- I d-didn't k-know what to- Sasuke! You left! You-"

Roughly he pulled her back up, cutting her off sharply with a kiss that rendered her utterly mute, not even her mind could think of anything to say, silenced into trying to comprehend every single wave of emotion his lips were conveying, forcefully and gently all at once, confusing her mind so much she wouldn't have been able to say what was up and down.

Slowly he slid his kisses down her neck, wiping away at her tears with his fingers, listening to her soft but slowly calming whimpers.

"…I deserved that slap." He admitted, breathing into her ear gently, nuzzling the skin of her neck, dizzy with the lavender scent that always seemed to intoxicate him.

"I'm sorry."

The heiress only breathed in slowly, trying to calm herself, heart pounding almost so fast that it was hard to hear him despite him whispering so close to her ear.

"W-why did you l-leave?" she murmured, tracing the pattern of thread on his jacket collar, blinking her glittering lashes covered in her wet tears. "W-why did you-?"

Unable to find the answer the Uchiha Avenger cut in, startling her into silence. "I did something today."

Hinata looked up then, studying his face and the unreadable expression there. "S-something?" she reached up, wiping her wet cheeks gently, looking confused. "What do you mean?

His eyes shifted, looking towards the right at the last sliver of the setting sun, plunging the world into a darkness tinged by the orange light still escaping the dark mountain's grasp.

He swallowed, one hand sliding into his pocket, playing around with the ring inside. It was his mother's ring…

He didn't realize his hands were shaking as he turned to look back at her, cupping her cheek gently with his other hand, searching her gaze, ignoring the startled look there, the worry. She could see the hesitance and wariness, the fear. Something was happening and he was frightened… frightened.

Sasuke didn't know fear… he was never scared of anything.

"S-sasuke." She breathed, searching his face with more worry. "What's the matter? What is it?"

"…ano…" the Uchiha began, making her blink in surprise, having never heard that odd sound come from his lips.

He looked down at his hand where the ring was clasped. "…I…have something to ask you."

His only worry was her answer. She had every reason to reject him, his brother, his family, his manners or lack thereof, the danger she would be put in as his fiancé… the things he had done once, a long time ago…

But he needed her so much, the idea of her not being there always didn't even make sense, like trying to grasp the reality of eternity.

"Sasuke…" Hinata whispered slowly, looking pale. "You're scaring me…"

"No, that's not what I- it's nothing like that…" he began, looking up and meeting her lavender eyed gaze, stunned into silence by the expression there and the sheer attentiveness, care…

Love.

"…I need to ask you if you'll spend the rest of your life with me…" he reached up, taking her hand, sliding the ring from his fingers to hers, watching her eyes start to widen, looking down at the small piece of jewelry that symbolized so much.

"…the rest of…" she began slowly, unmoving, the ring sparkling as the last rays of sunlight splashed into the small diamond at it's center of carefully designed gold twined into vines and roses to wrap around the stone.

Sasuke smiled slowly, watching her mind slowly try to grasp the meaning, mouth opening into shock, looking up at him sharply.

He leaned in, kissing her cheek before breathing into her ear. "Will you marry me?"

A thousand thoughts, a thousand feelings, memories of how scared she used to be of him, how his presence was something to try to escape, something to run from, a nightmare, how he stood in the shadows of Sakura and Naruto, how his cold eyes had stared at her, summing her up in one glance and how slowly but surely as she strained to meet his expectations that stare had turned into one of surprise…awe…respect…and then-

"I love you." the words slipped out of her mouth as she thought it, kissing him before he could say anything else, unaware of more tears pouring down her face, but they were so calming it was ridiculous, in his arms she could fall into a sleep that no one would be able to wake her from.

Except for his lips on her skin.

Gasping and trying not to sob or laugh all at once she pulled back, watching as he smiled at her, not a smirk, nor an arrogant smile, but an honest one, almost a grin.

"I'll take that as a yes-"

"Shut up." She mumbled, kissing him again, neither of them noted Hanabi peeking in from the doorway, her eyes so wide on her face they were in danger of consuming it completely.

Smiling a very wicked smile she closed the door, letting them have their moment. She'd interrogate her sister about it later.


"Let me LOOK at it, Ino-pig!" Sakura screamed, using for the first time in a long time the childish name she had thrown out in a temper as a five year old against her best friend. The blonde growled, holding Hinata's hand in her own like it was a possession, glaring over at the pink haired nin with an evil glint in her eye. "Back off! I'm not done yet!"

Hinata almost fell out of her chair at the café, scrambling to regain her balance as she grabbed onto the table. "A-ano…Ino-chan, Sakura-chan…"

"You've been holding her hand for about an hour, let go!" Sakura cried again, ignoring the all too knowing looks that all the waiters and the café owners exchanged.

Another episode in the life of the three kunoichi… in surround sound.

"Ano…" Hinata began again, lurching to grab onto the table as the two ninja took hold of her hand, pulling. "I just want to see it!" Sakura growled, glaring at Ino who was hunched over Hinata's hand like a hungry wolf. "No!"

A silky smooth voice they had heard only a few times in their lives suddenly slipped through their growls to reach their ears.

"Either remove your hands from my own or loose some very essential fingers." Hinata murmured, a cloud of dangerous chakra rolling over her.

"Eep!" Sakura and Ino meeped, letting go of Hinata's hand like it was a hot coal. "Gomen!"

"Hn!" Hinata grunted, rotating her wrist to loosen the tensed muscles slowly.

"It's beautiful though… Hinata." Sakura grinned after the cloud of angry chakra began to vanish and Hinata's usual half smile returned, along with what seemed to be a constant flush of her cheeks. It probably would take a few months for it to go away, she hadn't stopped blushing since the proposal.

"It was his mothers." She pointed out slowly, studying the ring on her slightly bruised hand from all the tugging. She smiled at it as it caught the light, turning to look at her friends who were grinning at her knowingly.

"Aw, just look at her." Sakura crooned, reaching over and pinching her cheek.

"She in loooove." Ino agreed, resting her head on her cheek, looking dreamy. "And alas the happily ever after is in fact real."

"Tch." Hinata almost laughed, rolling her eyes to the heavens. "Right."

"You're damned close." Sakura grunted, giving her a look. "You're a princess by the village standards."

"He's a prince." Ino pointed out. "A very rich, very mysterious, very attractive prince."

"Hey!" Hinata grumbled, giving her a look.

"And, he came to your rescue!" Sakura added, smirking. "All he's lacking is a white stallion."

Hinata smiled, leaning back in her chair, trying not to laugh at the idea of Sasuke on a white stallion. It didn't look half bad.

"That can be arranged." The other two burst out laughing, almost on the floor from their hysteria.

"Is it impossible to be less than obnoxiously loud?" A new voice muttered, appearing behind Hinata's chair, hands sliding through her hair, making her turn to look up at him, smiling in content. "Hi."

"Mm." he replied, pressing a very innocent looking kiss on her lips.

"Aww…" Ino and Sakura chorused.

"Is this what you've been putting up with all day?' Sasuke muttered, pulling back to look at his fiancé's face. Hinata smiled, a bit sarcastically. "No comment."

"Hey!" Sakura cried indignantly.

"I think we'd better go, Hanabi-sama has been…insistent about being on time for the dinner she prepared." He muttered, the hesitance in the middle of the sentence making Hinata turn to look up at him, smirking in a way that reminded him in a strange way of himself.

"She's been nagging."

"Without stopping to breathe."

Laughing Hinata shoved herself up to her feet. "Okay, let's go." She murmured, ignoring Sakura and Ino bickering about something or other.

"Bye!" she called. The two girls stopped arguing long enough to wave a goodbye and flash them twin knowing looks before turning back to their previous almost violent conversation.

"I'm surprised she's not terrified of you." Hinata admitted as they walked away, fingers twining with his as they walked. "Hanabi-chan, I mean."

"Why would she be terrified?" Sasuke retorted, glancing over at her with a quirked brow. She replied with a mirror expression. "Aside from your concentrated efforts on being terrifying?"

"Hn." He replied, smirking. "She's tough."

Feeling more giddy than usual Hinata's loosed tongue allowed one last comment before entering the Hyuuga Estate. "Or senile…"

"Tch." The avenger chuckled. Dinner time would be interesting…


Several hours, and some forced eating later the two were sitting on the Hyuuga's porch, it so happened to be the same place that he had proposed, curled into each other to keep the cold from numbing their fingers.

"I think you need to give your sister some cooking lessons." Sasuke admitted, rolling his eyes. "It's like she's never before held a frying pan."

"Well she hasn't." Hinata replied, leaning her head back on his shoulder, fiddling with his fingers as she stared up at the dark night sky. "She held a kunai before she ever even looked at a pan."

"And you?"

"I can't remember." She admitted, turning her head slightly to look at him, studying her fingers as they fiddled with his, entranced by the slender movement of the carefully sculpted hands.

For a moment they were quiet, listening to Neji and Hanabi's voices arguing hotly about something, Tenten's voice coming in once in a while in an attempt to soothe the two hotheads. After the engagement the elders had left, signing papers without even looking at them. Hinata knew well that they weren't gone for sure, some of them had given her glances that stated something near loathing, others had been irritated by the power she now held.

Only one of them smirked at her, something like veiled respect marring her elderly features. It was that old hag that both Sasuke and herself had decided needed help with dying upon meeting her.

Never judge a book by it's cover… Hinata admitted to herself, closing her eyes, listening to his heartbeat as it drummed, a steady comforting rhythm.

Thump…thump…thump…thump…

Flashing images, a heartbeat speeding up slowly, like wing beats as a predator began to close in on prey, darkness, the smell of metal or blood. Flashes of black flowers with red pollen that blew in a breeze so hot it felt like the breath of dragon across her flesh.

The flickering field of black blossoms and long grass waved, the sky wasn't black anymore, however.

It was red.

Her own eyes stared at her, burning with the intensity of desperation.

"Let me out!!"

"Did you hear that?" Sasuke's voice whispered softly, forcing her to open her eyes, startled out of the images. He was sitting up, alert, listening.

Hinata didn't respond, lifting a hand to her face, finding sweat on her brow. She stared at her fingers, oily with it, confused. It had taken three seconds, but the images had been so real, the sensations so strong, the scent of the blood-like pollen still filled her nose.

"Nani?" she breathed, sliding off of his lap to land almost silently on the porch ground. He followed her example, looking around, only the light from inside of the house shed it's way into the porch, as a result there was little to be seen, darkness closed in from all sides.

"…darkness comes…"

She turned to look at Sasuke, body beginning to tighten like a bowstring, every tendon knotted.

"S-sasuke…" she began, looking around, ears straining. "…something-"

"Ssh." He hissed softly, one hand lifting to cover her mouth gently, sharingan rotating slowly as he turned. The hair on the back of his neck had risen, and though he couldn't see them or hear them, he knew something was out there…

Perhaps he couldn't hear them because of the loud banging of his heartbeat in his ears.

Hinata's hands slipped into her shirt, pulling out a handful of shuriken, reflecting the light of the moon for a moment.

It was just a second, an intake of breath, a shattered stillness. They were soundless.

An arm flung around her neck, thick material covering her mouth. She gasped, a scream locked in her throat as the arm tightened. Scrambling she kicked and squirmed, her body throwing out every defensive maneuver ever learned, listening to the sound of struggle beside her, shuriken on shuriken, and silence.

It was made so much more maddening by the silence.

Sasuke!

More hands, more darkness, fingers pressing into delicate places on her skin, sending numbing sensations across her limbs. She was gasping, straining to breath, the sound of her own struggle making her heart beat faster, panic so frantic that it over powered her discipline taking over.

She heard first the sound of Sasuke's voice, a gasp. There were too many, too fast.

This can't be happening.

The darkness was so huge, it was consuming, she needed it to vanish she needed it to-

Go away!!

Her byakugan sparked to life, devouring the shadows and only casting more. There were bodies, shinobi in black clothing she didn't recognize and no headband to detail them with information. Seven of them.

And then there was the thing standing behind them on the railing.

Sasuke was pressed against it, the thing was wearing a cloak, thick and billowing in the cold winter breeze, masked, only eyes could be seen through a slit of cloth.

There was thick skeletal tail escaping the cloak, holding Sasuke roughly by the neck… and there was blood.

It spilled down his side, drenching the ground.

Her elbow connected with something sensitive of her attacker and the arm loosened for a second, a shriek escaping her.

"Sasuke!"

His eyes locked on hers, chakra rolling out of him in steady waves. Steps in the distance, it was happening so fast. Neji, Tenten, Hanabi, Oka-san SOMEONE…

"Enough of this, let's go, I do not like to keep others waiting." The creature behind him grunted.

A blow worse than a sword through her body was the torture that would haunt her for months, the tail jabbing into Sasuke's neck… his skin, her skin, she had claimed it with her lips, kissed it into her possession, made it her own.

Nightmares are made of images like that.

"NO!"

The arms around her body tightened, she was thrown backwards as they jumped, dragging her along, she felt her world vanish under her feet, but she couldn't think, couldn't function. Sasuke's body crumbled onto the porch floor, blood spilling, he was shivering, straining to get up. The monster behind him whipped his tail and flickered from sight.

"Sasuke! Sasuke!!"

The ground gave way again, the air whipping her hair in her way, she strained against the arms, reaching towards him as he got further away, further… space, time, life was in the way, the darkness, the utter cold.

"Sasuke!"

It was eating her, devouring her alive, the arms were teeth, she was vanishing and Sasuke was bleeding and she… she couldn't… she couldn't even…


Vision blurring, his body couldn't move, he could hardly function, his heart was slowing, blood rising up to his mouth, but he was moving, he was going to move he was going to….

"Hinata-" he gasped, watching… only watching as she fell… she was falling, into darkness, into nothingness, screaming, reaching towards him and he couldn't do anything, nothing.

The burning feeling of the poison spreading, or the kunai still in his side didn't hurt as badly as the image of her eyes, tears pouring so that they looked like liquid steel.

Right before she vanished in a flurry of red clouds on black cloak…

The feeling of having your heart ripped out, is something not easily forgotten…

He didn't feel when hands were picking him up, didn't hear when familiar voices were screaming for answers, didn't see the darkness eating his vision as his world vanished before him.

Only one thought was resonating within his mind.

I will bring you back, I will…

I will become…

Stronger.


O.M.G

It is done.

Well, if the ending wasn't simply CLICHÉ I don't know what cliché is, lol, but I enjoyed it immensely.

Love me, review for me, and wait impatiently for the sequel of course.

Read. Review.

-INK