Disclaimer: If Naruto were mine, the series would have either finished a long time ago, or remain unfinished :p

A/N: Yep, I've actually uploaded this incredibly early! Miracles can happen :) This will be the last 'snapshot' of Sasuke and Hinata's life together. I hope you've enjoyed reading this as much as I've enjoyed writing it. Thank you for your kind comments and for pointing out any typos etc, mistakes will be rectified asap!

One last thing, regards Setsuko's um... love interest? sorry to disappoint, but he's not anyone in the series, but another OC I've created in my mind. :p Let's put it this way, his dad's known to be extremely lazy. Any guesses? ;)


-o-o-o-o-o-o-

Part V

-o-o-o-o-o-o-

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It's been one year, one long, lonely year since she left him. Every day he wakes up, turning to look at her side of the bed, half hoping to see her tranquil face by his side, and everyday he remembers that she's gone.

.

-o-o-o-o-

.

She was no longer the girl she once was – the years had taken their toll, and the smooth, pale skin was now lined and wrinkled, her hair was white, and her body no longer as hardy as it had been. But her eyes were still bright and alert, and she still loved life and the joys it brought her.

Hinata laughed and clapped delightedly as she watched their first great-grandchild toddle unsteadily for a few steps. The child, a bright little thing with large dark eyes, was nearly by Hinata's side when she lost her balance and fell flat on her behind. She opened her mouth to roar her indignation, when a pair of arms, not as strong as they once were, but strong enough, lifted her up and deposited her onto her great-grandmother's lap.

'Thank you,' Hinata said as she smiled at her husband, cuddling the child.

'Hnn.' Sasuke eyed the toddler warily, who had apparently opted not to cry, and was instead busy playing with the folds of her great-grandmother's yukata and cooing contentedly. 'Anything to stop her yowling,' he said grumpily and Hinata grinned ruefully. The little girl had an excellent pair of lungs, and was not averse to using them when she deemed it necessary.

'I don't remember our children being so loud,' he remarked as he tickled the little girl and she squealed happily. Sasuke smiled slightly before he gave a sidelong look at Hinata. 'It must be the Uzumaki blood coming out in her,' he said, eyes glinting.

His wife sighed as she stroked the child's head. 'It's been well over thirty years since Mitsuaki married Natsuki,' she pointed out mildly, 'I'd say it's high time to get used to the idea of having Uzumaki blood in your descendents.'

'Never,' he said in mock indignation, 'The tragic event scarred me for life. It marked the end of our dignity and the lowering of our standards,' he continued sadly as Hinata giggled, 'And now we've reached a point where my grand-daughter is going to marry an Inuzuka…' Sasuke grimaced theatrically.

'Ah,' Hinata had a wicked glint in her eyes and he smirked, knowing what was coming next, 'People from different clans should never mix, should they?'

'Never,' he affirmed without batting an eyelid. 'It's too risky, mixing different bloodlines.'

'And yet,' she countered slyly, 'You took that risk yourself, marrying a Hyuuga woman,'

'She seduced me,' he said solemnly as she spluttered with laughter at the thought that she'd have ever even tried to seduce anyone.

'How?' she asked mischievously, 'With her looks? Her charm? Her fighting?'

'All of them,' he said face straight, 'but her cooking tipped the scale in her favour.' Sasuke grinned at his wife and she chuckled, shaking her head reprovingly at him. 'You'll never change,' she told him indulgently, and he smiled at her as he sat down beside her.

They sat together, enjoying the mild evening breeze which played with the leaves and made them dance to a silent song, the silence broken only by the chirping of crickets and the occasional distant shout from the compound. Sasuke watched his wife as she cradled the child who had fallen asleep in the comfort of her arms, and wondered if he would have ever known what happiness meant if he'd never met her. The thought of her not being there by his side made his heart clench, and he let out a soft sigh. Hinata raised her eyes to meet his, and smiled, but he didn't smile back.

'I never regretted it,' he told her with sudden intensity, surprising her. She looked at him wondering, and he took hold of her hand, her small hand with long thin fingers, skin so white it was almost translucent, worn , worked hands had touched with gentleness and killed, hands which had created and destroyed.

'Never,' he repeated softly, as he pressed her hand to his face, feeling its comforting warmth.

'Sasuke,' she whispered tenderly, 'My husband.'

He leaned towards her and brushed his lips with her, his heart to full to speak.

Age was never a barrier to love, not to their love.

He would never stop loving her.

.

-o-o-o-o-

.

The patter of small feet alerts him to the presence of his great grand-daughter, who brings him his morning tea. Great-grandfather is her especial care since great-Grandmother died, and she's proud of her duty.

They sit together as he sips his tea– no one makes it quite like Hinata, he thinks absently – and he listens indulgently to her chatter as she talks about school and friends and suppressing a sigh when she tells him how she's going to be the best kunoichi ever, as he remembers other bright-eyed, innocent children who longed to enter the shinobi world, unaware of the darkness it would bring with it.

She grows silent after a while, content to watch butterflies dance from one flower to the next and he loses himself in his memories – Hinata, Hinata, always Hinata and how he longs to see her again - when little Hotaru-chan tugs at his sleeve, and he looks at her, half-startled of out his thoughts.

'Which are your favourite flowers, great grandfather?' she asks looking at the garden.

'The primroses,' he says smiling slightly. 'The primroses by the herb-garden.'

'Did great grandmother like them best too?' she asks curiously.

He nods, remembering how proud she was of the garden she'd grown, in that bare piece of land which had lain barren for so long. The primroses were the first flowers which bloomed… she had been so happy when she showed them to him, the first fruits of her labour… so very happy…

'Then, they're my favourites too,' Hotaru announces happily as she grins at him, and he smiles back. 'You've got good taste,' he says and ruffles her hair gently, 'and now better be off or you'll be late for school, Hotaru-chan,' he tells her and she nods and sets about gathering the tea-things.

Sasuke waits until she goes inside before rising slowly – he does everything slowly these days, old age forgives none and he gets tired easily – and walking towards the herb garden. He stops beside the primroses and stoops to pick some flowers to put on her grave when he goes to visit her. As he cradles the fragile blossoms in his hand, lost in his memories, he suddenly realises that he's not alone and turns to face the newcomer.

'Hotaru?'

His great granddaughter comes to stand beside him and he looks at her questioningly and Hotaru hesitates slightly before slipping her warm little hand into his. 'Grandfather?' she asks softly, 'Do you still miss great-grandmother very much?' Her dark eyes are brimming with sympathy, and Sasuke feels his throat tighten at the innocent question. He closes his eyes briefly, remembering another little girl, painfully shy and awkward, and the woman she grew into, still shy and awkward at times, but also strong, brave and beautiful, even when she was old and grey.

Hinata. His Hinata.

Sasuke smiles sadly as he squeezes his great-granddaughter's hand tightly and nods.

'Always,' he tells her quietly, 'always.'

.


Comments are welcomed. And thank you to everyone who's read this. :)