Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto. So if you recognize anyone or anything from the anime, I'm just borrowing.

Takes part sometime before Shippuuden.

Reviewers are the lifeblood of fanfiction! Also, please put in your two cents about whether you would like the end to have more fighting action or more interpersonal action.

Chapter 11

"Welcome to my humble home," Hinata bowed as the Takihatas followed her through the doorway. "There is a pretty little sitting room that overlooks the courtyard. You can see the water fountain from there. It'll be perfect for the tea ceremony."

Hinata quickly changed into a kimono and fetched all of the tea ceremony paraphernalia. There weren't any good cakes, so she sent one of her little cousins to buy some for her.


Hinata held her sleeve and whisked briskly. She had just finished serving the tea and cakes when she heard voices coming from another part of the house.

"Excuse me. Please enjoy yourselves. I'll just go see who that is, if you'll be alright?"

"Of course! Don't mind us. The view is lovely and the tea is delicious. We'll just chat with your young man, here."

"Eh! Um…um…um…"

"Teammate," Shino corrected.

"Yes, yes. Same thing. Go, go," Grandma Takihata shooed her away. Takaro was already on his third cake. Shino calmly took another sip.

Hinata, cheeks slightly pink, came around the corner to find her cousin, Neji, walking toward her from the other direction.

"Hinata-chan, here you are. Oh," he tilted his head in surprise. "You're already dressed up. I suppose it is for the tea, right?"

"Huh? Yes, for the tea ceremony." Wow, Neji-niisan is really perceptive, Hinata thought to herself. I didn't even know he knew I was here.

"This way," he pointed.


Neji gently took his cousin's elbow. "There's no reason to be nervous," he said gently.

"I'm not nervous, Neji-niisan." Hinata turned her head to look at him, but he seemed serene and uninformative.

"Good," he nodded.

Neji slid open the door to the largest sitting room and shuffled Hinata inside before closing the door behind them.

"Um…" Hinata looked back at the door in confusion, then to the strangers in the room.

Hanabi was sitting stiffly on a cushion on one side of the room. One the other side sat a young man and a middle-aged man who looked like he might be his father.

Takoro-san, the father of the young man, studied the girl that had just entered. This must be the older one he had recently found out about. Apparently she was a little slow in the head. He understood now why Hiashi-san didn't speak of her much, and why he had overlooked her regarding the arranged marriage between the villages. She kept looking at the door as if she thought she was in the wrong place.

"Ano…" she trailed off.

"Hinata-chan, go and sit down," Neji directed gently.


"Go," he whispered softly.

Hinata moved to sit down on a cushion near her sister, who looked incredibly nervous. Hanabi was often quiet when her father was present, but now she looked borderline terrified. This was the first time she had been expected to interact with her suitor and his family without her father present. Of course, Hinata didn't know this.

Neji sat down on the men's side and Hinata raised a very questioning eyebrow at him. He simply smiled, thinking she was nervous, and gave her a little encouraging nod.

What does the nod mean?! cried Hinata in her mind.

A servant arrived, probably one of the guest's servants because her head was covered in a strange way. She demurely served the men first and then went to refill the water pot. Hinata looked around confusedly. Hanabi was staring straight ahead to the ground three feet in front of her, her hands clenched in the fabric of her kimono.

The servant girl came back and walked towards the girls' side of the room. Hinata felt a strange energy in the room. It wasn't an Intent to Kill, but it was strong and negative. From across the room, Neji frowned, also picking up the weird vibe. When the servant girl was about five feet away from Hanabi, she suddenly appeared to trip and flung the entire contents of the tea tray into Hanabi's face, tea, cups, and all.

Hanabi's entire body froze; her eyes went wide with disbelief. She watched in terror as the scalding water approached her face. A flash of white and orange passed across her vision.

Hinata didn't think. Her arms flew in front of her sister to prevent her from being burned. Byakugan activated, Hinata managed a partial-version of her signature Protection move while kneeling. She blocked all of the boiling water with her sleeves and even managed to catch the different parts of the tea set before they fell. Hinata set down the tray before looking up intently at the serving girl, who quickly apologized.

"Hinata-sama…" Neji trailed off in a stunned whisper.

The doors slid open with a bang and Hiashi entered the room. He looked at the tea set in front of Hinata to the new brown stains on Hinata's long sleeves.

Hiashi sighed disappointedly. "How can one girl be so hopeless?" he murmured, though still loud enough for everyone in the room to hear.

Hinata looked down to the floor and gulped before silently gathered up the tea set. "G-g-gomen nasai. I'll just go get some more tea." She lifted the tray with both hands and hurried out of the room.

"The fault was my servant's," Takoro-san explained with a bow. "I apologize deeply."

Takamaru was glaring at the servant girl sharply, while the girl had her shoulders hunched in shame or anger. It was difficult to tell.

Hiashi waved away Takoro-san's concerns and took his seat beside Hanabi. Neji was just wondering if he'd sat down on the wrong side when Hinata came in with the refilled tea set. She served her father and sister with more speed and agility than ceremony. With a quick bow, she excused herself by explaining that she had something to attend to. She was halfway toward the door when a loud boy's voice rang throughout the buildings.

"Hinata-neesan! Where'd you go?" A head of tousled black hair popped into the room. "Here you are! I've been looking all over for you!"

Hinata and Takamaru spoke at once.

"Gomen nasai, Takaro-kun. I'll be right there."

"Takaro! Where'd you go yesterday?!"

"I went home," Takaro shrugged in his brother's direction.

His father had choked on his tea at the sudden appearance of his boisterous youngest son. Neji was helpfully pounding him on the back while keeping an eye on the proceedings.

"Do you already know each other?" Hinata asked confusedly.

"This is my dad and my older brother. Didn't you know that?"

"Takihata…oh. Oh!" Hinata blushed a little and lightly slapped her forehead. "So everyone knew each other all along. How silly of me not to realize…. Now that I see you together, you really do look like your older brother." Hinata bowed deeply to both Takoro-san and Takamaru. The servant girl had transferred her suspicious energy to Hinata and forgotten Hanabi completely, though only Neji seemed to realize this information.

Takaro turned his full attention back to Hinata. He was so eager that he was practically jumping up and down like Akamaru before a walk. "Anyway, Hinata-neesan, Grandma and Grandma want to go and do boring stuff together. They said they won't need you until dinnertime, so will you please teach me to throw kunai like you taught me to throw shuriken? Please? Please! Hinata-neesan, please!"

Takaro's exuberant enthusiasm never failed to cheer Hinata up. She smiled down at him and agreed to his request. "I just need to change. Come with me. Did Takihata-baasan-?"

"My mother is here?!" Takoro-san yelped.

"I think Grandma left the room. She had to take care of something," Takaro explained. "Come on, Hinata-neesan," he tugged eagerly on her hand.

"Hai! Hai!" Hinata let herself be pulled out of the room and down the corridor, though she managed a quick bow before being hauled away. They went to find Shino and ask if he wanted to join them.

The two had just disappeared around a corner when Grandma and Grandpa Takihata came down the same corridor and stepped into the room.

Takoro-san bowed and hurriedly introduced Hiashi to his parents.

"I told you I'd find you out, Takoro. So, what's this about an arranged marriage that you didn't consult me about?" Grandma had her scary face on.

"Uh, well, you see…I wrote about it…" Takoro trailed off. "I thought now would be a good time to strengthen relations between the two villages."

"Hm…interesting. And why did you not mention this to me?"

"Um, well, you see, you were very busy."

"But never too busy to be involved in something as important as my grandson's marriage."

"Gomen, okaasan," Takoro bowed.

"Hmph. It really is quite silly of you not to have mentioned it. So you are arranging a marriage between Takamaru and Hinata-chan?"

"Ch-chigau. Between Takamaru and Hyuuga Hanabi."

"Eh? Who? Hanabi? Hanabi…That name sounds familiar. Ah, that must be you, ne?" Grandma Takihata concluded, placing her hand under Hanabi's chin and tilting it up so she could look into the young girl's face.

"Hai, I'm Hanabi," she replied quietly.

"Ah yes," Grandma Takihata murmured. "Hinata-chan praises you so highly. Hiashi-sama, you are very lucky to have such daughters."

"Thank you," Hiashi murmured politely, inwardly baffled as to how this famous Dragon Lady had come to know Hinata.

"I fear that any union between your youngest daughter and Takamaru is quite out of the question," admitted Grandma Takihata.

"Why is that, Takihata-sama?" Hiashi asked.

"Well, for one thing, it is quite unusual to marry off the youngest daughter before the older daughter, especially for an arranged marriage. But there is another more pressing reason. Please excuse my rudeness and inconvenience, Hiashi-sama, but I need to speak with Takamaru in private. Young lady," she turned a sharp eye to the servant girl, "you will be coming with us."

"H-hai," the servant girl muttered.

"Young man," Grandma Takihata turned to Neji.

"Neji desu," Neji bowed.

"Neji-san, why don't you and Hanabi-chan go and find Takaro and Hinata-chan. I'm sure all of you young people should be out enjoying the sunshine, ne?"

Both Neji and Hanabi cast subtle questioning glances in Hiashi's direction. The Head of the Hyuuga Clan nodded subtly and the two bowed politely before heading off to find Hinata and her young charge.


"EH! Why does it keep flying into the ground?!"

"Here, you need to hold a kunai differently than a shuriken." Hinata patiently adjusted his grip and demonstrated how to throw the weapon. Shino watched patiently as he leaned against the trunk of a tree.

"Oh, I see!" Takaro threw the kunai with much more accuracy, though he still missed the mark.

"Remember to concentrate on the target like yesterday. You need to hold it in your mind."

Takaro glared at the target with ferocious intensity for a full minute before suddenly launching his attack as Neji and Hanabi entered the clearing from behind the two. His eyes shot open in surprise when he actually hit the target.

"Yahoo! Hinata-hime is the best shinobi teacher ever!" Takaro shouted.

Hinata flushed prettily and smiled. "Iie. It's just that Takaro-kun is such a fast learner."

"I can't wait until I start my training, Hinata-hime!"

"Hinata…hime?" came Neji's puzzled voice.

Hinata turned suddenly. "Hanabi-chan? Neji-niisan? What are you doing here? Is anything the matter?"

"Mm-mm, neesan," Hanabi shook her head. "Grandma Takihata said we should come and find you. I think she's going to cancel the arranged marriage."

Hinata looked at her sister carefully. "How do you feel about that, Hanabi-chan?"

"Well…to tell the truth, I'm pretty relieved," Hanabi grinned. "But not because I dislike Takamaru-san. It's just that he's so much older than I am. And I'm too young to be thinking about getting married."

"That's true. You and Takaro-kun are actually about the same age."

"Really?" Takaro asked. "Hanabi-chan, are you going to become a shinobi, too?"

"Hanabi-chan started her Academy Training this year," Hanabi explained proudly.

"EEHH! She already started? Man! That's not fair. I can't start for another two months," Takaro huffed.

Takaro's energy seemed to be rubbing off on Hanabi, for the normally almost sullen girl suddenly grinned.

"You better train hard because we're going to be Genin at about the same time, so you might have to fight me during the Chunin exams!" Hanabi challenged.

Takaro looked taken aback for a second before matching Hanabi's grin with his own mischievous one. "You're on! There's no way I'm gonna let a girl beat me, even if you are Hinata-hime's sister!"

"Eh…Takaro-kun, you should just call me Hinata-neesan," Hinata reminded him with a little shake of her open hand.

"Huh? Oh, right, Hinata-neesan's sister," Takaro corrected.

"Why do you call her, Hinata-hime?" Neji wondered.

"Because she's a Princess of Waterfall. Didn't you know that?"

"Eh?!" Neji gasped. "How…? When…?"

Hanabi, Neji, and Shino listened attentively as Takaro eagerly told them the story of Hinata's multi-day dance. Shino found it especially interesting to get a completely different perspective than Hinata's own.

"The Festival was great, but really, that was nothing compared to the big battle. Hinata-hime was…awesome. She saved the whole village by herself!"

"Chigau, Takaro-kun! There were plenty of talented people that worked hard that day."

"I guess," Takaro shrugged, "But you did the most. Plus there was that amazing ninjutsu of yours, with the Pah, Pah, Pah, Pow!" Takaro swung his arms wildly, trying to mimic the swift motions of Hinata's signature move, and almost falling on his face.

I need feedback! I have a little snipet that goes at the very end, but I need your input about how the rest should go. Betrayal in the name of love? Kabuto coming back into the scene, or not? Hinata being a badass shinobi? Hyuuga Clan healing? All of the above? Something I didn't mention above?

I'll be posting the rest of my fanfiction, so keep an eye out for me. I have a bunch of stories that are at least ½-3/4 finished, like this one, so the updates should be pretty swift.