AN: There's a slight spoiler at the end for those who haven't read chapter 397. I'm warning you early on so I don't get yelled at. And yes, this is Itachi x Hinata. I happen to love this crack pairing. Why should Sakura get all the Akatsuki fun anyways, hm?

Another thing is that I'm trying to portray a more human side to Itachi, before he started acting...standoffish? ; Well, this obviously takes place a year before the Uchiha Massacre.

Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto. Masashi Kishimoto does.

Close Your Eyes

Itachi x Hinata

Uchiha Itachi stared out in the boundless horizon, fixating his lazy, blood-red gaze on the summer sunset. In the field he stood consisted of dandelions, swaying to the wind and breaking free of their roots. Itachi couldn't help but lean down and pluck one from the grassy field and hold it between his fingertips. He held it up, the fuzzy softness brushing against the tip of his nose and his mind wandered back to a time when a shy girl of seven gave him a dandelion…

From his spot on the bench, Itachi watched as his seven year old brother, Sasuke, ran away from a group of girls. When Sasuke's panicked eyes snapped to Itachi, silently begging to help him escape, Itachi merely sent an apologetic smile his way. Suddenly a blonde girl tackled Sasuke from behind, and once he hit the ground, the other girls followed suit. A dog pile buried Sasuke deep into the grassy field of dandelions.

"Nii-san…!" a muffled cry broke out into the air. "Help me!"

Itachi chuckled under his breath, feeling amused and a bit guilty for not rescuing his brother from an obsessive group of girls. With a sigh, he sat leaned back against the bench and simply stared out into the sky, absently thinking.

"Is…is he going to be o-ok?" a shy, timid voice suddenly asked, startling Itachi out of his slight reverie. His onyx irises snapped to lock with pale lavender ones. He blinked lazily, causing the girl to step back in sudden nervousness.

"He'll be fine," he drawled out. "My baby brother has to learn how to fend for himself at some point."

"O-oh…ok," she murmured under her breath. "I…I'm Hyuuga Hina—"

"Introductions aren't needed, Hinata-san," he interrupted. "I already know who you are and I assume you know who I am."

"S-sorry…" she flinched, as if Itachi was going to snap at her. "I-I didn't…"

"Why are you apologizing? You've done nothing wrong."

Itachi guessed the reason for her nervousness was her father, Hyuuga Hiashi's fault. Itachi wasn't one to judge, but after one meeting with Hiashi, he didn't like the man. In fact, he despised the cold, hateful nature he gave off. The way he treated his daughter only made Itachi hate him more.

What kind of parent would treat his child so coldly?

Hinata's eyes wandered to the field and, from what Itachi guessed, something caught her eye. Hinata walked over to the edge of the field and bent down to pluck something. Itachi couldn't see what it was, for she hid it behind her back as she walked over to him.

"U-um…I heard it w-was your birthday," she stated, a small, timid smile playing on her lips. Itachi was a little surprised. He thought no one, besides his mother and brother, would remember the anniversary of his birth.

"S-so, Happy Birthday, Uchiha-san…" she revealed what she was hiding behind her back and held it in front of Itachi. It was a dandelion.

"…thank you," Itachi took the dandelion from her small fingers and held it in front of him. He twirled it between his thumb and forefinger, watching as the small fuzzy buds shifted.

"Close your eyes and m-make a wish, Uchiha-san!"

'Oh, I see now,' he realized. 'She's portraying the dandelion to be like candles on a birthday cake.'

Itachi couldn't help but let a small smile crack his stoic mask. He took a deep breath and blew at the small plant, watching as the fuzzy, white buds flew into the air, dancing with the wind. Hinata had a happy smile on her face as she watched them drift off into the sunset.

"W-what did you wish for?"

Itachi chuckled, "If I told you, it wouldn't come true."

"O-oh, sorry--" Hinata slapped a hand to her mouth, stopping herself from apologizing again. Itachi's smile widened a fraction. What a cute girl. He hoped that her bleak future would brighten later in her life. She didn't deserve to be underestimated. Her clan should have more faith in her.

"Sit down," he patted the empty spot beside him invitingly. Hinata nodded and climbed up on the bench, sitting herself by Itachi's side. They both watched as Sasuke scrambled out of the dog pile of girls and sprinted off at lightning speed. The girls' whined in protest and took off after the poor boy.

"S-shouldn't you help Sasuke-san?" she looked worried for the boy's well-being. "I would…but…"

"Don't worry about him," he reassured monotonously. "If his situation worsens, I'll protect him…"

Drawing out of the memory, Itachi looked back to see if anyone was around. When he sensed no presence, he closed his eyes and held the dandelion in front of him. Wishful words floated briefly in his mind before he blew all of the dandelion buds out. He opened his eyes and was pleased to see them all floating in mid-air, being carried away by the summer breeze.

He knew it was wishful thinking to hope Sasuke would be protected from what would be his demise, Itachi's teacher and the wielder of Mangekyo Sharingan. But, protecting his brother was his only reason for living up to this point. And when he looked at Hinata so long ago, he found another reason…