Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto!
Chapter Two: Here she stood
Here she stood.
Here she stood in the dojo of the Branch House, among the Cursed of the Hyuuga Clan. One by one asked them to come forth, and one by one they walked up to her, kneeling infront of her, forehead protectors and other headbands removed from their skin; in their hands. Revealing the mark of their shame. Her hands would rush through the set of seals, and then two of her fingers would touch their seal, channeling chakra into them. The Curse Mark would activate and glow green for but a second, as if trying to fight back, before it would disappear into nothingness.
A split-second of pain, and then freedom!
The Branch House members would stand up and leave for the next to come. And so it went on. One by one they stepped up to her, and one by one she opened the gates of their cages. Raising them out of it, she healed their broken wings, before gently throwing them in the air. Setting them free. Free to roam the skies, and go only where the wind would take them. Free to finally follow their own hearts, and breath in the world. Wanting them to spread their wings, and leave for all the unknown places they would like to see.
What she did not realize, and couldn't understand, was that they would all come flying back to her!
Back into her warm embrace. Because Nomen est Omen- because she was exactly what her name said her to be. A Sunny Place. The Main House always despised her for her kindness- and so had, much to his shame, Neji for a long time- but to the Branch House, she had always been the Light of the Hyuuga. Whenever she entered a room, it seemed to get brighter and warmer all of sudden, while otherwise it was encompassed by darkness. To them, to the Branch House, she had always been like a sun or a star, surrounded by moons. And they could not shine unless they reflected her light!
And so, they would never leave her.
A small smile continuued to tug at the corner of Neji's lips as he watched more seals vanish under his cousin's fingers. One month had passed since she first accomplished it to fade away, if just for a heartbeat. Beside her missions, and harsh training sessions, she had worked hard on re-creating this jutsu. Every evening she could be found with some scroll or other on the Cursed Seal in her room, studying the 'enemy' to overcome it. The genius had often used his Byakuga to watch her from his own chamber alongside hers, and if he found she should go to bed instead of mulling over everything he had always gone to silently knock on her door. She then would scramble into her bed to hide what she had been doing, thinking that he didn't know. Wishing to surprise him.
He fought hard to keep his face expressionless, but inwardly he was proud, very proud of her. He may not have the right, because of the way he always treated her, and so he never mentioned it, but he felt it all the same. For a moment, the smile surfaced and became visible proof of his feelings upon his features. Then it turned into a frown, when he saw Hinata fall to her knees from the extensive usage of her chakra. He quickly moved to kneel beside her, and noticed that she was panting harshly.
"That is enough for today, Hinata-sama," he said. "You need rest."
"But, nii-san… I promised," Hinata stubbornly protested.
"You won't help any of us, if you died from chakra exhaustion," Neji snapped, and cursed himself for it as soon as the words had left his mouth. He would've winced when he saw her flinch, and noticed how several Branch members were scowling at him for being such a jerk. And indeed, he was! Why couldn't he be friendly and gentle to her, like she deserved? Why did everything he said to her come out so harsh? Like he still hated her? Yes, he had apologized for trying to kill her, but even then his voice had been devoid of any emotion, his eyes distant.
He doubted it had sounded very sincere…
"…Maybe, if I showed you how…" the heiress spoke up again.
"No, Hinata-sama," Hanzou spoke up. "You have worked so hard for this, you deserve to reap the seeds you sowed. The Branch Family has waited three hundred years to be free, we can wait another few days for you to rest."
There. That was what Neji had wanted to say. Why couldn't he say it that way? Why did he have to be so mean towards her? Why couldn't he talk like Hanabi's protector did? Without hurting her?
"…Okay," Hinata finally relented. She tried to stand up, but Neji quickly prevented it. Asking for her forgiveness once again- he hadn't done it nearly enough times, still- he raised a finger to her forehead, and put her to sleep. When she slumped, he caught her in his arms, took the warnings of the other Branch members to "keep her safe or else", and left the dojo without a word. He headed straight for her room, so he could put her to rest on her bed. Glancing down at her, peacefully asleep, he felt the urge to craddle her head, and lay his cheek on top of her midnight blue curls. Since no one was there to watch, he indulged his need for once, and breathed in the lavender scent that always seemed to follow her wherver she went. In her unconscious state, she snuggled cloth to him for the warmth someone asleep always seemed to want, her hands fisting in his shirt.
He held her a little tighter.
"What happened to Hinata-sama?"
Neji raised his head to find one of the Main House Elders by the name of Houshu giving him a stern look. The genius bowed as much as was possible with the heiress in his arms, his grip tightening some more at the barely masked hatred in the older man's white eyes.
"She fainted during training, Houshu-sama," Neji explained calmly.
The Hyuuga Elder scowled, then scoffed at Hinata's sleeping form.
"You train her a lot lately."
"Hiashi-sama asked me to," Neji replied coolly.
"Well, Hiashi-sama wants to see her. Follow me, boy," the older man said, and turned. Neji was reluctant, but couldn't just disobey, so he started to walk a few feet behind the Elder. He was led to the conference room, where the Clan Head, and the Elders were already waiting for them. He was ordered to set down the heiress, and wake her up. Gently touching her forehead once again, he could see Hinata's eyes fly open. Hiashi didn't even wait for his daughter to fully awaken. Instead, he threw something infront of her feet, and sent her a disapproving scowl.
Even without looking at it, both Neji and Hinata knew what it was.
"We know what you've done, Hinata," the Clan Head's stern voice carried through the room. "You've tried to bring this honorable family down onto it's knees-"
"I tried to make it better," the blue-haired girl defended herself. "I am no longer in a position where I have to accept this outrageous behaviour; the arrogance of the so called Main House. Family members should love, and care for each other. Family members should treat each other with respect. Family members must not enslave each other!"
"Betrayel!" one of the Elders snarled. "She must have the cursed seal put on her."
Neji was immediately up and infront of Hinata.
"Over my dead body."
It was a simple sentence, but it had quite some effect. The Elders and Hiashi were shocked into silence, while Hinata's eyes widen in alarm. Anyone else might take that for a sign of worry that her cousin planned to go up against such a large number of people, but that was hardly one of her greater concerns. Neji had insisted on being the last member of the Branch House to be freed from the Cursed Seal, which meant that if the Main House members just tried to use it against him, there was no way for him to escape.
"That can surely be arranged," Houshu spat.
Hinata jumped to her feet, and swayed unsteadily. She had already used up too much chakra, but she could not let Neji face them in his current 'condition'. Standing behind him, she flew through the seals. Her cousin activated his Byakugan to see what she was doing, but all he saw was Hinata moving closer to him. He could feel her front press against his back when her arm sneaked around his front until her hand touched his forehead protector. An unbearable pain surged forward into his head. It lasted for two or three seconds, probably because of her exhaustion, and then he could practically feel the mark fade away.
Then, Hinata fell to the ground, unconscious.
Neji wanted to turn around, and shake her. Yell at her for being so stupid, for not caring about herself. For choosing his freedom when she should've run away, run to the Branch House, or directly to the Hokage, while he distraced her father and the Elders. Scold her for being her usual kind self, because now all he could do was protect them from harm, and hope that someone came to help them. Because if he moved even a step away, Hinata was dead. And he would not stand for that, he would not let that happen.
He had promised.
And so, he used his 'Kaiten' to deflect the first set of shuriken and kunai that came their way as the Main House members approached. The genius stepped back, and lifted the heiress up with one arm, restricting his ability to move, but at the same time making sure he could move her with him. Away from them. Carefully watching the older men's every move, he retreated towrds the door. Noticing this, one Elder leaped forward to grab them. Neji dodged his attack, and rammed his palm into his chest, sending him flying back into another Elder. However, that did not stop the rest of them from launching themselves at the two cousins- one of which, unable to fight.
Neji leaned Hinata against the door, and spun on his heels back around to face their attackers…
…just as the door opened to reveal Hanabi with Hanzou and some of the other Branch House members that had already been set free.
Hinata awoke with a start.
Judging by the darkness that surrounded her, she guessed it was just past midnight. She was in her own bed, covers pulled up to her shoulders. Blinking a few times, she wondered if anything had happened today at all, or if she had been dreaming all of it. She couldn't quite distinguish the reality from a dream at the moment, because if it was a dream, it had felt so very real! She wished it to be real, well, most of it anyways. She wanted her family to be a free one. Slavery was a terrible crime. It should've never gotton to this point, but since it had, she wanted to at least put things back in order. Even if everybody would hate her, she wanted to keep her promise.
Even if she died.
Had she died? And if she had, was this Heaven or Hell?
She turned around.
"Neji?" she whispered.
He was sitting beside her bed. Only now she noticed that he was holding her hand.
He squeezed it.
"Funny how the tables are turned, huh?" he asked her.
"You knew?" Hinata blushed at the thought. She had wanted to surprise him, but of course he had noticed her presence in his room.
"Hinata," Neji started out, and the blue-haired girl relished in the fact that he had dropped the suffix. "I wanted to… to say that… I'm… I've… sor-"
Smiling, she raised a hand to his lips to silence him, as she straightened herself to sit on top of the covers. Leaning forward, she allowed her hand to cup his cheek, and her forehead to touch his. Even with the darkness making her unable to see it, unless she activated her bloodline limit, she knew that the Cursed Seal had disappeared. He wouldn't be sitting here with her if it hadn't.
"No, I'm sorry, Neji. I went against your wish, again."
"…Stupid girl," the genius replied guffily. Only she would apologize for freeing him.
She didn't flinch this time. Good.
He moved to sit beside her on the bed, and gathered her in his arms. Surprised, she still snuggled into his chest again, as sleep overcame her once more. Feeling completely safe with him. And she had every reason to be. He would never let anything happen to her. She was his new Clan Head (Hanabi and the Hokage were currently taking care of the last one, as well as the Elders), and aside from that, he had promised. And Neji had every intention of keeping that promise until he could still draw a breath.
He held her tighter.
He may not be able to voice his thoughts and feeling very well, but he most certainly could show her!
End of "Midnight Visit"!
A/N: Well, I think now the story is more complete. Maybe I'll write another NejiHina in the future, but for now, this is the end!
Hope you enjoyed it. Please leave a review.