All right! An update! On SOMETHING!

I'm making progress, woo!


"Even though Hiashi-sama had intended Hanabi-sama to become head of the clan," began a lawyer kneeling before Hinata and Hanabi, "the laws of the clans are set up so that only the eldest child of the head can succeed." He bowed his head lower, long Hyuuga hair obscuring his face, as the two sisters exchanged a surprised glance. "Which means, Hinata-sama, you are the new head of the Hyuuga clan," he continued.

Hinata's heart leapt.

"So, there's nothing that can be done to fulfill Father's wishes?" Hanabi asked.

The Hyuuga lawyer bowed his head. "No, Hanabi-sama. I'm sorry."

"Dismissed," Hanabi said softly.

The lawyer bowed and left, leaving the sisters alone.

"Ano…are you angry?" Hinata asked.

Hanabi's mouth was pressed into a small line, fists clenched. "No, Nee-san. I'm not angry. It just…" she trailed off, fists tightening. "It just should have been me."

"I…I know, Hanabi-chan. I-It's what Father wanted," Hinata murmured.

Hanabi shook her head. "It's not that. You're just not…not…"

The words not good enough rang through the silence.

"Hinata-sama?" a voice called through a pair of shoji to their left. "You have an appointment with Sakura-san today."

"O-Okay," Hinata said standing up. "Um, Hanabi-chan…" She swallowed when Hanabi looked at her. Her face was blank and emotionless, but Hinata could feel the waves of anger coming off of her all the same. Hinata pressed her lips together nervously. "Um…never mind."

Now was not the time to say anything to Hanabi. Nothing would make her feel better. Hinata knew that Hanabi was not necessarily angry with her, but at the fact that she was not head of the Hyuuga clan. Nothing Hinata said could help her get over her extreme disappointment.

Both of them knew that Hanabi would have been a better leader.

-

"All right, Hinata-san, you seem to be in perfect health," Sakura said cheerfully. "Even your heart is completely healed, thanks to that therapy from Tsunade-shishou."

"Ah…good," Hinata said, patting her sternum. "I had been worried about that. My…family won't have to worry about such a weakness."

Sakura looked confused at her choice of words, but was wise enough not to question them. "Um, Hinata-san, you are supposed to be the head of your clan now, right?"

Hinata nodded. "My…my sister is disappointed," she said softly, biting her lip.

What was she doing? She shouldn't be telling Sakura these things! Even though she had always thought of Sakura as somebody that could sincerely listen and care…

Sakura frowned. "She was supposed to be head, wasn't she?" she asked flatly. She nodded in answer to her own question. "That makes sense."

Why? Hinata thought. Why does it have to make sense? Because Hanabi-chan is better? Stronger? Faster? Braver? Hinata felt as though a large boulder, weighted with prejudice, had her pinned to the ground. Hadn't she improved since her fight with Neji-nii-san? Was she the only one that could see the change inside of her? Was she the only one that could sense the flicker of a flame lighting up?

Sakura smiled then. "Although Hanabi-chan is the likely choice, I think you would do a better job in that position, Hinata-san." She grinned at Hinata's surprised look. "You're sitting straighter lately, and even though you're still soft-spoken, I can tell your backbone is stronger."

The boulder seemed a bit lighter all of the sudden.

-

Hinata left the hospital feeling very weightless and carefree.

Neji, who had accompanied her from a combination of orders and free will, was glad to see her smile tentatively at her surroundings. He had noted that it was a rare thing to see a smile on his cousin's face; almost as rare as one on his own.

"Hinata-sama, why are you in such a good mood?" he asked, decidedly gentle. He didn't want to shake her out of her happiness.

Her cheeks colored. "Um, I…I guess because I have so much to be grateful for," she said slowly, then she smiled. "Sakura-san is a kind friend."

"Really? How so?" he asked.

Her smile widened. "She believes in me."

Neji could feel his lips pull into a smile of his own as he felt a leap of affection for his younger cousin. Her affirmation of a thing that so few people had was really quite endearing. It was a shame that she was so uncertain of herself, but then again, if she wasn't, she would be so endearing either.

"Look," he said, gazing past her, smirking slightly.

"Hey Hinata! Hey Neji!"

Hinata flushed. "N-Naruto-kun…" she sputtered as she turned to face him.

"Hey Hinata," he said cheerfully as he reached them. "I just got back from a mission and I am hungry!" He blinked at Hinata's face. "Are you all right Hinata? Your face is really red. Maybe you have a fever?" he suggested as he put the back of his hand to her forehead.

Hinata squeaked and pulled back. "Ah-ah-no! No! No, I-I'm not sick-"

"Wow, Hinata, you're forehead is really hot! You should go home and lay down-"

"N-no Naruto-kun, I'm fine," she said, patting her cheek.

"Neji!"

They turned and saw Tenten and Lee.

"Neji!" Tenten called again, waving an arm. "Come here!"

Neji glanced at Naruto. "Keep an eye on Hinata-sama for me, won't you?"

The blond looked slightly confused, but he nodded. "Sure, no problem."

Neji nodded to Hinata and went to see his teammates.

Naruto turned to Hinata. "What's with the protection?"

"Um," Hinata began, "um, I'm the head of my clan now."

Naruto's eyes widened. "Huh? When did that happen?"

Hinata pressed her lips together. "My father…passed away recently. H-He was ill."

"Oh…I'm sorry Hinata. You must be having a really hard time about it," Naruto said. He tentatively patted her shoulder.

"Our relationship wasn't the best, honestly," she said.

"Oh, I'm sorry."

Hinata acknowledged him with a nod.

Naruto stared at her for a moment. "Did he treat you badly?"

"It's not…it's not like you are thinking, Naruto-kun. I…"She pressed her lips together again. "I just wasn't a top priority."

Hinata could feel his blue eyes roaming over her face, gauging her expression.

"Aren't you angry?" he asked. "You don't even look angry."

Hinata blinked.

Angry?

Can I even think of a time…

I wasn't angry?

"Well?"

"I was always angry…at myself," she murmured. "There…there was never an excuse," she continued, meeting Naruto's baffled gaze. "Not a single one, for allowing myself to be weak."

Comprehension crept into Naruto's expression. "I know what you mean," he said.

The anger that Hinata harbored for herself, her frustration that she felt at her own weaknesses, building up to a tantamount of fury, suddenly seemed to be blown away at those words.

Understanding…she thought to herself as she looked at Naruto in amazement. This person…who seems so pleasant…is really angry underneath. He can understand better than anyone the way I feel.

I must transform my weaknesses. Starting with this.

Hinata took a deep breath. "Naruto-kun…I want you to know how I feel about you."

He blinked, obviously not following. "What?"

"I…I like you very much, Naruto-kun."

His only grew more bemused. "I like you too?"

She shook her head. "No, Naruto-kun…you don't get it." She sighed. "You…you know the way Sakura-san…feels about Uchiha-kun?"

Naruto's eyes widened. "Oh."

Hinata waited.

Naruto simply stared at her, looking slightly dumbstruck.

"Are you ready, Hinata-sama?" Neji asked, approaching her.

Hinata looked at Naruto for a moment, waiting for any reaction. He did not move.

She pressed her lips together. "Y-yes, Neji-nii-san." Disappointment rose up in her, threatening tears. If Neji read anything in her face, he didn't say anything. He merely took her arm and led her away, leaving Naruto behind.

"OH!"

Neji looked back, startled.

A smile came over Hinata's face as she turned to face blond running toward her.

He laughed, "This is the part where I ask you out, isn't it?"

Her smile widened.

Neji raised his eyebrows as Naruto grinned. "Wanna go out with me, Hinata?"

There was a pink tint to her cheeks as she bit her lip, trying not to smile. "Yes, Naruto-kun," she said. "I would like that very much."

Neji smiled and nodded when Naruto glanced at him. "There's no one better than you," he told Naruto.

Naruto grinned at Hinata. "Let's go get some ramen."


Let me know how you like it.

I kind of feel like the ending is a little flat.

Meh.

(randomly disappears)