Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto
A/N: Finally, the fourth series of the Four Seasons of Hinata's Love! Enjoy & dun forget to R&R!!
CHAPTER 1: THE HYUUGA HEIRESS
Looking into his cup of freshly brewed jasmine tea leaves that his eldest child poured for him. Hinata always makes the best teas and knows his preference. But after he tells her the news, will she ever make tea for him, again?
He sighed again.
Looking at his daughter who wore a violet coloured kimono with white lilies embroidered at the hem, Hinata was the embodiment of female beauty and she is a Hyuuga. His daughter. In Hiashi's mind, she may be weak, but she is her mother's daughter.
The shoji door opened and Neji stepped in. Kneeling beside his cousin, Hinata poured him another cup of tea.
Neji looked appreciatively at Hinata and sat with his back ramrod straight. His long brown hair hanging limply behind his back.
Hiashi looked at his nephew whom he came to love as his own son. The son of his late twin brother, Hizashi. In a way, Hiashi felt guilty for letting his brother to die on his behalf, and he knew he could've stopped it, but Hizashi was insistent. It was a brotherly sacrifice and Hiashi knew the bitterness it felt.
Looking at the young man before him. He is so much like himself than his own father. Hiashi couldn't help but laugh at the irony of life itself.
Both Hinata and Neji looked at one another.
What is wrong with Otou-sama? Hinata asked herself.
Has Uncle gone mad?? Neji pondered.
Both of them had never seen Hiashi laugh. A smile maybe, but a laugh?? This was just so plain weird for them.
Hizashi then set the beautifully handmade porcelain cup down and looked at the two young adults before him.
"Hinata," Hiashi began. "You're almost 18 now and already a grown young woman."
Hinata didn't like where the conversation was going. She knows being a Hyuuga means that one has to be confined by all the rules and laws of the Hyuuga clan. And, being the heiress is the worst of the lot. For all the power in the Hyuuga family clan, the heiress has the least freedom. Like the Branch family who were branded with the cursed seal of the caged bird. For Hinata, the moment she was born, she was already in a cage.
Neji just looked at Hiashi impassively. He too didn't like that tone of voice coming from his uncle. Neji felt sympathetic towards his cousin whom he learned to care after the Chuunin exam incident. In fact, Neji loved his dear cousin when they first met years ago, when Hinata's mother and Neji's father were both alive. But after learning about the death of his father, he hated the fact that he loved his young cousin and took it all out on her.
"And you too, Neji," Hiashi said again. "In time, we will find you a suitable wife. One who will look after you, and care for you. Bearing you fine offsprings."
Both of them looked very uncomfortable. But, Neji seemed to handle it better than Hinata. He was scowling darkly at Hiashi who calmly ignored him while Hinata was grasping the folds of her kimono on her lap very tightly, trying to control her expression. Neji looked at his cousin, and parted her hands from her kimono gently and held it in his hands.
Hiashi noticed their little exchange, but remained impassive.
Hinata looked at her cousin as Neji's expression was emotionless – as always. She knew her cousin cared a great deal about her, but does not show out in the open. Like her father. She hid a smile.
Neji looked at her. His brows frowned.
Hinata shook her head gently as they both looked at the head of Hyuuga Clan.
This time, Hiashi couldn't help himself but smiled at the exchange between them.
"The Elders have decided that since Hinata will be reaching a marriageable age, it is up the the Council to decide the candidate suitable to be her husband," Hiashi explained.
Hinata's face paled instantly. She gripped Neji's hand in hers.
Neji felt her trembling. He narrowed his eyes to his uncle while holding Hinata's hands.
Hiashi could feel Neji's killer aura and he dismissed it with a wave of his hand.
Neji was about to say something until Hinata held on to his hand and shook her head. Telling him not to do anything irrational lest Hiashi might activate his seal. But, Hinata knew that Hiashi would never use the seal against his nephew, except for that one time when they were younger and sparred together. That was when Hinata was nine and Neji was ten. Neji at that time still bore a grudge against the Main Family and was attempting to kill Hinata while they sparred until Hiashi felt Neji's killer intent. The effect from that caused Hinata to be hospitalised for severe internal injuries which was brought forward until their Chuunin exam several years ago.
The Chuunin exam several years ago changes a lot of things in Hinata and Neji's life. He became her protector-guardian as well as her confidante. And, she became the most important female in his life. The impact of such damaging internal injuries caused severe repercussions to her heart and lungs. Two most vital organs in her body. And up until today, Neji felt the brunt of guilt hanging over his head and shoulders everytime he sees his cousin trains. After her Jounin exam, Hinata's health problems severely limits her capabilities in combat related missions. Although Hinata may be internally weak, but her ability in managing and handling the Hyuuga's financial matters were not affected. Hinata's quick mind in managing the Hyuuga businesses and assets were highly valued and regarded by many as strategic investment opportunities that benefitted the Hyuuga clan tremendously. Other than that, Hinata's extensive knowledge on medicines and herbs were very well-known throughout of Konoha since she became one of Tsunade's medic apperentice - like Sakura.
"So, it shall be," Hinata bowed her head.
"Neji, when you have children, you will understand my position. And when the time comes, don't say I don't tell you so," Hiashi replied as he got up from his seat and went outside. Leaving the two younger Hyuugas.
"I won't allow you to be subjected to such marriage. It is not fair on your part," he turned around to look at her.
Hinata paled slightly as her hands trembled. She had never been this scared before in her life. The last time she was trembling like this was during her mother's funeral. Hinata felt the similar trembling coursing through her body.
"Look at me, Hinata-sama."
Hinata bit her lower lip. "How...how many times I have said, Neji-niisan not to call me by honorific title? We're family."
"That is not the matter now!" Neji slammed his fist on Hiashi's reading table.
Hinata pulled her cousin's hands into hers and with one free hand, gently touching her cousin's cheek. Neji immediately changed expression.
Hinata knew how to calm her cousin down whenever he has his sudden outburst. Gently caressing his cheeks she smiled gently at him, like a mother comforting her child. Neji softened his look. The deep scowl and narrowed brows left his face and was replaced by a sad expression.
"It is alright, Neji-niisan. I know one day, this will happen and it cannot be avoided, but I know I must be...be...strong. For Hanabi, for the clan and for the family."
"You would rather sacrifice your happiness for us?" His tone was cold.
Hinata bit her lower lip. For many people, Nii-san.
"I would not allow it!" Neji stood up.
"Neji-niisan! You must...not!"
"Why can't I? I am here to protect you and...and...this...this so-called finding you a husband is...is...preposterous! And Uncle is not doing anything to help you!"
"NO!" Hinata stood up. Looking angrily at her cousin. "My place is with my family. I know Otou-sama had his hands all tied up. I also know you love me dearly." Only like as a sister. Hinata mused.
Neji pulled her into his arms. Slowly stroking her long hair. So soft. Liking the soft feeling of her hair and the faint smell of lavender clinging to it.
She wrapped her hands around his lithe waist and was fighting hard to hold her tears from coming out.
"Neji-niisan," Hinata murmured. "It is enough if I am to suffer, but I do not want you to suffer more. Once I am head of the clan, no more Branch members will need to suffer for being a Branch member. And when I am head of the clan...there will be no more Main Family and Branch Family."
Neji released her from his hold and looked at his cousin.
"There will be only the Hyuuga Family," she smiled at him.
Neji smiled at her and slowly kissed her softly on the forehead.
"Is it wise?" a blonde woman dressed in a white robe.
"Why is it not?" Hiashi replied as they both turned away from the two young Hyuugas.
"From afar, others will not think of them as siblings," she replied, taking a sip of her sake.
"They are not siblings, and if you ask me, that bodily contact does not imply such sibling relationship either," Hiashi remarked.
"Hmm...how about the Council? I mean the Hyuuga Elders?"
Hiashi looked at her calmly. His expression remained...impassive.
Such cocky bastard. I don't know why I'm putting up with him. She thought as her dark brown eyes glittered dangerously at him.
"There will be...discussions. Certain process and procedures to go through. The one chosen to be the husband of our clan's heiress has to be someone able to protect her with suitable qualifications, but most importantly, able to live under the Hyuuga household."
"That would certainly eliminate more than half the male population of Konoha," she smirked.
Hiashi ignored that.
"I have no interest in seeking alliance outside of Hyuuga and at the moment, because her husband will have to marry into the family and not the other way."
"I've always thought you'd wanted Hanabi to be the heiress?" She cocked an eyebrow at him.
"Hanabi is a true fighter, but not a leader. I was often blinded by the fact that being a fighter equals to being a strong leader," Hiashi sighed, taking another sip of his sake. "But, Hinata showed that, being physically weak does not mean you cannot be a leader. Both of my daughters are like the moon and the sun...the soft gentle glow of the moon, and the bright glare of the sun."
"How poetic, I have never expected that from you, Hyuuga-sama."
Hiashi frowned at her.
"Are you here just to mock me?" He demanded.
She smirked again and said, "I was just joking, Hyuuga-sama. Anyways, I am glad you have seen the 'other' side of Hinata before you do something so drastic as many would have expected you to do."
"You mean disowned her? Throw her out of the house? Branded her into the Branch family?" Hiashi looked at her. His pale eyes did not reveal much. "That is a gross common misconception. I am a father and I care deeply about my children, only that...(sigh) they grew up without a mother and I just don't know how to deal with...sensitive...daughters."
She laughed out loud and smack her palm on the table while pointing at him.
Hiashi gave her a murderous look.
"You could've remarried, you know?" she was still laughing. He looked irritated.
"I would not, that would be an insult to Karura's memory."
She smiled and nodded her head. "So, what are you going to do about Hinata? She is my favourite, you know. I do hope you have chosen wisely, coz if you don't and she suffers, I'll make your life a living hell."
Hiashi looked at her. "Don't worry Hokage-sama. She is after all, my daughter and the Hyuuga heiress. She will prevail in my choice."
Tsunade looked at him and smirked, pouring more sake into both their cups as they looked Neji leading Hinata back into her room.
A/N: Sorry if it is too short coz I just typed this in and didn't even checked it in time...I was rushing actually...so, hope you'll enjoy...