"If this is giving up, then I'm giving up, giving up on love, on love."

-Wreck of the Day, Anna Nalick

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They say that the sense of smell is the sense most connected with emotional memory. Neji Hyuuga hadn't given it another thought when he had heard it, and as most information he found useless, it was quickly forgotten and stored away somewhere in his head.

He had never been a man to particularly care for the smells of things, save for the very rare occasion it would be needed to complete a mission. But now, for the first time in his life, a certain scent caught Neji's attention. So much so, that it made him stop in his tracks.

Walking by the Yamanaka Flower Shop always offered an array of smells, but the best were always around this time of the year. In spring, the flowers outside always had the most appealing fragrances, but this one stopped Neji in his tracks. It was the scent of Peonies, and it completely distracted him from his everyday tasks and caused him to reminisce on a time he had tried to forget.

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White Peonies were the flower of choice for the event that had had the entire Hyuuga family on their toes. In Japan, the Peony is called the 'Prime Minister of Flowers', and so he found it very fitting when it was chosen for his wedding day.

Everything about it reminded Neji of his soon-to-be wife.

The White Peony is not a loud flower. It does not demand attention; there are no flamboyant colors or anything that would make you stop to look at it. In the language of flowers, the peony represents shame or bashfulness. But, if you did stop to look at it, you would see that it is anything bit dull.

It is simple, yes, but extraordinary. It is gentle, modest, but most of all, pure. But Neji didn't like it. Neji didn't like how a flower with so much potential was so fragile and delicate. So weak.

Yes, everything about it reminded him of Hinata.

Neji and Hinata were not two people in love. They were two cousins with a very weak friendship until the mention of insuring there would be a strong heir was thrown around by the council.

Hiashi wasn't getting any younger, and with Hinata being who she was, they were certain they would need one as soon as possible. As for whom the father would be, it took them very little time to settle on the clan prodigy. If Neji was the father that would ensure their offspring had a strong Byakugan, good chakra control, overall good genes and everything desired in an heir.

As the ceremony had begun, so had what little of a relationship the two cousins might've had. Every bit of friendship had been melted away along with the last of the impure snow.

On that beautiful spring day, the long awaited marriage of the Heiress was upon the Hyuugas, and every one of them showed for the ceremony. They all sat quietly during the part of the ceremony and watched attentively as two people who would've much rather said "I don't." were joined for the good of the clan.

Neji remembered how he wished the people at the reception would just leave him and Hinata alone so he could get a moment with her, maybe talk like a civilized person about this betrothal that had been thrust upon them. But when the crowd had finally gone, Hiashi had given Neji a final warning about hurting his daughter in any way, and the newlyweds were left to themselves, he would trade all the people for this in an instant.

The room that he was expected to sleep in for the next few years, if not forever, was beautiful and extravagant. The walls were a dark shade of red, the bed's new white comforter and red pillows were expensive looking. He had mused that the Branch members never got anything this luxurious for their rooms. But then again, what good is being comfortable in an uncomfortable situation?

As Neji took in the room, his new wife had stumbled to the bed, sitting on the edge and taking off her high heeled shoes. She placed them very neatly beside the door before taking her spot on the bed once again. She sat there, looking at her hands which, uncharacteristically, were not fumbling around. He could tell she was focused on the ring and had wondered if she felt caged.

No matter how much he disliked the situation and no matter how much he disliked her, he could not deny that she look beautiful tonight. Her dress hung off her shoulders and her hair falling over them in cascading curls. Sakura had done a good job with her hair and had even gotten her to wear makeup.

He kept his eyes on her, and she fidgeted uncomfortably under his gaze. "Hinata, are we going to be adult about this?" He had said after quite some time, not wanting to be the first to talk but knowing she wouldn't speak first. His eyes met hers for a quick second before she turned her attention to the floor, tears staining her face. He could read her too easily, and what he saw on her features was pure despair.

That night Neji was sure Hinata was going to fall off the bed, she was so close to the side. He had lay in his new bed, the silk covers feeling soft on his skin, thinking about everything that had happened today. The small and quiet sound of his new wife crying eventually died down to a steady breathing. Soon after, he had fallen asleep himself.

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This was the memory that Peonies brought to mind, and it wasn't a very fond memory at that. But he couldn't help but linger a little too long in the smell now, because the feeling was bittersweet and he had to admit, he loved Peonies now.

They represented everything that reminded him of Hinata, after all.

They are simple, but extraordinary. They're gentle, modest, and pure.

But most of all, beautiful.

They were his favorite flower.

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Hello, I hope you're enjoying the story! This was kind of an introduction, I guess. But please REVIEW if you're looking forward to the next chapter, it'll make me update a whole lot faster. Thank you!

PS: Yes, this will be a NejiHina. Just wait and see.
Toodles!