I Love You

I love you. It's not a weight you must carry around.

I love you. It's not a box that holds you in.

I love you. It's not a standard you have to bear.

I love you. It's not a sacrifice I make.

I love you. It's not an expectation of perfection.

I love you. It's not a pedestal you are frozen upon.

I love you. It's not to make you change.

I love you. It's not even to make you love me.

I love you. It's as pure and simple as that.

It is not a weight you must carry around…

Her breathing was heavier than it had been in a long time, body straining with the weight of the training bags wound around her ankles and wrists. The tightness of the bonds was cutting into her flesh, ripping into the pearly skin and making blood drip down mixed with sweat.

Biting her lip the pale kunoichi flipped, landing a bit sloppily onto the muddy training ground, flinching as the freezing rain hit her in the face.

Her legs wobbled for a moment and she felt herself give in, one knee hitting the hard dirty ground forcing a grunt from her lips.

Panting heavily she glanced up just in time to see her cousin straighten from his battle stance, Byakugan lined eyes softening until he was back to normal- glaring at her and her weakness.

She didn't have to have good eyes to see the silent expression on his face, the word written as clearly as if he had scrawled the kanji in the air.


As she collapsed onto the muddy ground completely she let herself look away, listening to the falling rain, tear drops of silent screams she didn't allow herself drenching through her sweat soaked clothes.

His steps fading into the distance told her she was finally alone, allowing herself to crumble, face first into the mud under the heavy agonizing weight of a responsibility that flowed through her veins.

Her sobs were what alerted him in the darkness, passing by tree top to tree top- only to freeze at the sound of something familiar. The sound that echoed in his nightmares every night.

Dark eyes watched from the shadows as the girl struggled to sit up, sobbing so hard she could hardly breathe, drenched in blood, tears, sweat and the rain.

The idea that she was weak somehow didn't come to mind, as he and everyone else would have expected.

He didn't realize when he stepped out of the thicket, walking slowly towards her, as nervous as he had ever been in his life, though he didn't know why.

It was his steps that alerted her and made her gasp, turning to look over her shoulder, already halfway up into a battle stance that surprised him slightly.

Her lips formed his name but never released it into the air, eyes too shocked, it seemed to let her speak at the same time.

Silently he watched as exhaustion took over her body again, after realizing he wasn't going to slaughter her on the spot, and with the fluidity of his clan he caught her, frowning down at her still worried expression, even in the depths of unconsciousness.

He took her home then, without a second thought.

it is not a box to hold you in…

It had been two months and she had not been allowed outside of the compound. The barred gates of the Hyuuga entrance looking more and more like the bars of a prison cell.

Her bedroom window had been barred as well, for good measure and several different jutsu performed upon the walls that she may not be allowed to go outside.

She had disappointed her family, dishonored their code of chastity and purity that all females had to follow by being found at the Uchiha's house.

How dare she take refuge in the house of an opposing clan?

She would pay dearly for such a treacherous act.

Her room had been remodeled soon after. If she was not allowed to leave it then training must come to her. The two walls that had separated her studio where she painted, and pressed flowers in her spare time as well as her bedroom and closet had been knocked down. Only a hard futon served as her bed, and a desk piled high with books on all manner of shinobi war fare decorated the training chamber.

It was bare, the walls only decorated with different weapons she was expected to master, for to be a master of each one would make it less likely that someone would use them to kill her.

As heiress of the Hyuuga clan, such things were her responsibility, and she would not escape them ever.

Often she found herself crying to sleep, confused by the idea that Sasuke Uchiha might have had it in for her. Why he did this to her was something she could not comprehend. What had she ever done to him to deserve such a fate? Did he not know that just staying at his house one night was enough for her family to rip her apart as they had been wanting to since her infancy?

It was during the night that he came, one of the few where she could not sleep. The bruises and bleeding had grown harder to ignore, and even with Tsunade's healing she felt them.

Sitting silently in meditation she cried, unable to hold back the emotion even while sitting as still as stone in the middle of her prison.

The white kimono she had been given to wear at all times draped over her in an odd manner, contrasting sharply with her ebony dark hair, bur more importantly with her bruises, sprinkled over her face and body like freckles.

He didn't miss them when he landed expertly inside, climbing in through the window after slicing through the heavy iron bars.

He had no doubt that she could have destroyed the jutsus and the bars if she had wanted, but that wasn't what held her in. It was what was inside her that held her in chains. It was her blood.

The moment his feet landed on the ground her eyes opened, and he was impressed, for he had been nearly silent.

Dark lavender eyes widened and with the fluidity of someone who was both frightened and angry she stood, long kimono sleeves falling over her hands and hiding the kunai that was gripped tightly in her sweaty fingers.

"Uchiha-san." She whispered, taking an unsteady step back that actually evened out her balance better than if she had been standing solidly like before.

"Hyuuga." He replied simply, voice as dark and sinister as she remembered. Of all her classmates Uchiha Sasuke had been the one that frightened her the most. She didn't remember him being that way when she was younger, but now was different.

They had grown, and the dark seriousness of the child that had made her blink in wonder before now just made goosebumps rise on her skin and a cold shiver slide down her spine. He was as frightening as his brother.

"I've come to offer a few hours of freedom." His words were so calmly and coolly stated that for a moment Hinata wondered if she had misunderstood. Uchihas did not care about others, and she had resigned herself to thinking that for some reason Sasuke had wanted to destroy her by taking her home that night, now there he was… offering freedom. Was it a trick?

it's not a standard you have to bear…

"W-w-w-why?" she flinched, closing her eyes at the impudence of her stuttering, imagining the disgust he must be feeling at breathing the same air as a creature quite as pathetic as she was.

Sausuke studied her out of the corner of his eye, pretending for the time being to study the kunai he was flicking up and down in one hand. She didn't trust him… perhaps she had misunderstood, as had the Hyuuga Elders, the reason why he had taken her home.

"You need not come if you do not wish."

He was turning around then, heading towards the open window, already breathing deeply to use katon to reseal the iron bars.

Before he had even climbed halfway out of the small rectangle her voice called out, echoing in the empty chamber.


She shook, from head to foot but walked towards him despite the shaking, stopping just beneath the window looking up at him with a worried little frown that made something odd happen in his chest.

The light of the moon flickered over her face, highlighting her gaze and the glittering orbs of pure thought. She was worried. Her family did not trust anyone, and the ground down habit was something she was struggling with. Her personality said otherwise, it contradicted the very blood in her veins.

Hesitantly she nodded, and he could see her swallow hard. "…I…I'll come."

His expression didn't change as he stared down at her for a moment, though several different throughts flickered through his mind. Truth was he felt more than a little impudent since what had happened. Receiving a punch from both Kiba, Shino and a last one from Naruto for the incident had not had anything to do with his sudden guilt trip.

It was the look on her face when her cousin showed up at his house to pick her up, confusion, utter confusion as she stared, first at him then at her cousin.

She didn't know what she had done wrong, and of course… why would she? She hadn't done anything wrong to begin with.

His hand stretched out, calloused from sword play and hard training. Hinata stared at it for half a second before taking it, the warmth of his skin surprising. Somehow she had always figured an Uchiha would be cold.

Without very much effort he pulled her up onto the window ledge, well aware of her body bumping against his slightly in the tight space.

"G-g-gomen." She gasped softly, and he watched, quite up close and personal as her face grew warm, cheeks brightening to a pink shine in the moonlight.

He just swallowed hard, averting his eyes quickly. He wanted to say 'No, it's okay' but he didn't. Instead he helped her climb out of the room and out into the night sky.

it is not a sacrifice I make…

The first time he kissed her was the first time they let her out of her room and into Konoha again. A long year after she had been locked up.

She took it well, they figured. A whole year of seclusion from everyone except her cousin and trainers, she had taken it well, survived it surprisingly without a change in attitude except for a new sense of self. They had done the right thing. The Hyuuga elders clapped each other on the back warmly, feeling like they knew their children well. Yes, they had given the heiress the backbone she needed. They had done well.

Hinata secretly laughed at them as they did so.

Every night up on the Hyuuga roof she smirked brightly at Sasuke, his characteristic half grin rubbing off after the first few months, while she retold of Neji's recurring mess ups in class. It seemed her older and usually stoic cousin had a crush on her he suddenly could no longer hide.

Sasuke had at first been irritated when she told him, then upon realizing she was laughing at her cousin, in her shy quiet way he had begun to see the amusement in it. She finally felt like she had the upper hand.

More often than not they didn't talk, just sat around and stared up at the stars. Fresh air was something Hinata couldn't help but need, after being locked up inside so long, and during the spring Sasuke brought her flowers. At first he had said it was to check and see if her lessons on them were sticking, to see if he could recognize them from what he had learned from her.

A few months later he had dared to admit he just liked bringing them to her… to see her eyes light up at the sight of them.

Hinata had blushed longer than usual at that.

It didn't occur to her to expect him to come every day, but he did. His team mates noticed his disappearance, and most of them opted to think it was his way of staying out of trouble, of letting all the others forget that he had been the cause of Hinata's punishment.

They didn't question the Uchiha, what was the point. They would have received no answer anyway.

It was that day, when the barred gates were opened, when the jutsus were removed and the bright daylight flooded her face that he kissed her, the moment her cousin finally left.

Appearing like he had been her shadow all along, Sasuke popped up beside her on the road, making the Hyuuga heiress turn in surprise, long hair a cascade of lavender scented silk, bright eyes glowing with a new happiness at the sunshine- and Sasuke's presence.

She opened her mouth to say something, pink lips pulling into what he supposed was going to be a happy "Ohaiyo!" the one word she had been unable to say to him in a year.

He interrupted before she even formed the 'O' properly.

It was a quick kiss, nothing more than a swift carress of skin against skin, the way butterflies flutter past each other on sunny summer days.

Hinata stumbled back, just a half step to look at him properly in the bright light, fingers pressing against her lips in surprise.

He didn't give her a chance to say anything, only smirked slightly at her expression, walking backwards until vanishing back into the thicket of the forest. She needed time to contemplate… hopefully his patience would not be in vain.

it is not the expectation of perfection…

He was worried the moment he laid eyes on her and the fact her cheeks were streaked with tears.

Sitting on the Hyuuga compound roof, with only the moon to rain down and her usual white kimono she looked like she was one of the moon goddesses, bright and beautiful and filled with sorrow. Her tears sparkled as they fell.

His steps were quiet, but she heard them, turning expectantly at the last moment right before his hand came down gently on her shoulder.

Her trembling made his worry turn to fear.


"I'm not…" she paused, standing. She stood above him on the slanted roof, making them eyelevel. She wasn't sure if she was glad or not.

The lights of Konoha burned brightly behind him, shaded by the darkness of the forest that surrounded them.

"I'm not… Sakura…or..or Ino-chan… I'm not…good at anything, or beautiful or smart, I'm not…" she stopped, feeling him gently reaching up to touch her cheek, startling her slightly as she stared at the roof tiles.

Hesitantly she looked up, meeting his dark Uchiha gaze with her own pale Hyuuga.

"…I'm not interested in that, Hinata."

The second time he kissed her, it was not so innocent.

it is not a pedestal you are frozen upon…

Her friends were wary, their protection of her more intense since her return. The fact that he was the one that had thrown her into the very imprisonment in the first place did not gain him any paints in his favor.

"He's just using you." Kiba growled, parrying a blow that had a surprising amount of force from the Hyuuga heiress.

The girl didn't reply, mouth set in a grim line as she spun, nailing a kick right into his fore arms with enough force to send him stumbling backwards against the nearby training post.

Shino sitting comfortably on the top of the thin post frowned through his hood and glasses at the obviously irritated kunoichi.

"Listen to us, Hinata-chan. Our point is to keep you safe, he on the other hand…"

"Iie." Hinata grunted, turning away as she re-bandaged one of her hands. "Y-you don't understand…S-shino-kun."

"He's the type of guy to like soft quiet girls because he can step all over them." Kiba grunted shoving himself up from having stumbled away from her kick.

Roughly he shook out his arms, frowning at her. "He'll just boss you around. He wants a wife that will keep her mouth shut and let him do the leading."

Hinata swallowed, tightening the bandages so hard the circulation felt dangerously slow.

"Iie." She whispered softly, staring down at her palms. Kiba shook his head at her sadly, preparing for another sparring session.

"Don't let him fool you, Hinata-chan."

Trembling slightly, Hinata turned, facing him in battle stance… but her eyes held less conviction.

That night upon his arrival from the mission she waited, feet dipped into the coolness of the meadow she had frequented as a child. The serenity and stillness of the place was essential, she had to draw on that serene stillness to do what she must.

She heard him before his lips kissed her cheek, making her close her eyes and smile despite her best intentions. It was hard… it was so hard to be angry.

Perhaps Kiba was right? She was a pushover if there ever was one.

It didn't take long for him to notice something was the matter, taking her face in one hand and making her look at him, even though his touch was gentle the controlling action made Hinata clench her fists.

He let go immediately.

"…what is it?"

Hinata swallowed, turning away, eyes lowered to the rippling meadow and the dark depths of the water.

Were his eyes like that? Deep and dark, hiding secrets she didn't want to uncover?

"…am I…?" her voice shook and she stopped, irritated with the weakness of her being. Of course he wanted her for nothing more than to revive his clan- of course he chose her, the one kunoichi in his age group that would not fight him. The simple idea that someone would love her had taken her so high in the clouds that she had not realized that just maybe it wasn't love at all… could he really have a better motive.

He never told her what had brought him to her. They had never discussed it.

How could she do it? How could see find out…?

Her voice didn't wobble as much with her next words. Though her hands did clench harder.

"I… I don't think we should kiss anymore."

Sasuke's brows rose slightly as he studied her, well aware that she was looking at the water intently, avoiding his gaze.

"Hn." He replied, not disagreeing, not agreeing.

"O-okay?" she turned to look at him finally, surprised by his calm expression.

"May I ask why?"

Hinata flinched, biting her lip. "…d-does it matter?"

Sasuke pondered this for a moment, trying to find the underlying clue he was missing. What was it? What was it?

"No…" he admitted. "I'm not going to force you."

Hinata flinched. "T-that's not what I… m-meant." She gasped, turning to look at him quickly. Sasuke cocked an eyebrow slightly, tracing the worried frown between her brows with one pale finger.

"What's the matter, Hinata?"

Immediately she pulled away, licking her dry lips nervously. That had not been a hard enough blow. It had not been a good enough knock against his control to show if he was willing to let her have her way. It had to be something important… something…

Her eyes widened slightly as she realized what would be a hard enough hit.

"…S-s-sasuke?" she breathed in, turning to look at him expectantly. "I…"

Could she lie? Really? About something so important to her?

"I don't w-w-want to have kids."

This had the desired effect.

Sasuke's expression shut, like a book being slammed closed, a door locking, and a window closing.

He stared at her with dark eyes, studying her slightly pained expression for a trace of lie. If he found it she couldn't tell, she only looked back, waiting.

He turned away slowly, studying the ripples in the pond.

"…I need to know why."

Hinata flinched, turning to the water too. "…because I'm… because I'm scared?" it was almost a question, but it worked. He sighed, rubbing between his brows in a worried manner.

"It… is important to me, Hinata." He whispered, turning to look at her carefully. Hinata winced slightly. "I know…d-demo…"

He wasn't arguing. He wasn't even angry really, more like he was hurt, confused… stuck between a rock and a hard place.

She stared, realizing quickly. He wasn't about to tell her she had to, but it hurt, he was having trouble saying it was okay too.

She wasn't enough of a selfish brat to keep it going. "…I take it back." She gasped, grabbing his hand quickly.

Sasuke blinked, turning to look at her with a puzzled expression. "What?"

"I d-d-do want to have k-kids, demo, I was just… I'm just… I w-w-wanted to see what you…" she paused, watching him staring blankly at her.

"Gomen." She finally whispered, feeling like a complete and utter fool, rubbing her face in frustration. What nonsense! Kiba was going to have to apologize! What utter, utter nonsense!

"Hinata." Sasuke grunted, taking her hands quickly so he could see her face, blushing a furious red in humiliation. "What exactly were you doing?"

"…I… was… It's…" she sighed, then started slowly to tell him the truth, from the beginning.

Sasuke just stared, then felt a smirk coming on.

"I'm going to have to hit Kiba when I see him next." He pointed out. Hinata winced. "Well…I…" she blinked then frowned. "Hai, okay."

The smirk turned to a full out grin.

"So I can still kiss you?"

"Oh!" Terrible blushing. "H-h-hai."

Happily, he kissed her.

it's not to make you change…

The blow was parried easily. It was hard to actually spar with her, seeing as any possibility of hurting the object of his affection seemed utterly beyond his capability.

As it were, it felt more like cardio, working out the ability to breathe and of his heart to beat, faster- at times, when her body came dangerously close to his.

Her eyes were focused, counting, he noted, each of his blows. It wasn't until halfway through a fifteen minute segment that she figured out his rhythm.

As soon as he was going to go for a kick she dodged, moving to trip him with some particularly impressive footwork when her eyes flickered from his body to the ground.

Pale Hyuuga eyes widened in surprise and a loud sound of "Eeep!" echoed in the stillness of the training site as she shoved, with surprisingly precise force the boy of her dreams back so hard he hit the ground a good two meters from where he was standing.

Landing half at a crouch and half at a roll Sasuke gasped, putting a hand to his shoulder where there would be a Hinata-size bruise later. "Nani-?" he began and then paused, upon seeing her scrambling over to a furry ball of hair that was shivering right behind where he had been standing.

"Gomen, gomen!" she gasped, picking it up fluidly and rushing over to him quickly. "D-d-demo, you were gonna, I mean… if you-" her face faltered between guilt and relief as he stared at her silently for a moment, trying quite hard not to laugh.

"It's a bunny, see?" she whimpered finally, lifting up the itty-bitty fluffball with giant ears and huge dark eyes, it's nose quivering nervously as dark Uchiha eyes fixed themselves on him.

It was probably smaller than his fist.

Gently, so as to not hurt the obviously precious bunny he pushed her hands and the rabbit down, leaning forward to capture her mouth in a rather forceful kiss. It's that ache-y feeling you get when you see something cute, the desire to hold it so hard it might hurt the creature.

It took some restraint not to kiss her to bruises.

it's not even to make you love me…

They were having an argument.

"…w-w-well, I just… I d-don't think it should matter." Hinata stuttered out, as calmly as she could. All the while her hands shook as she arranged white tulips in a vase. They happened to be from a certain young man.

Sasuke scowled at them.

They were not from him.

"I disagree." He threw it out like a challenge, one he knew she probably wouldn't take. Not the way he wanted anyway. Half the time he wished she would turn around and yell back, but he had to give her credit. The not yelling part made it more aggravating for him. If arguing was a battle then she had better tactic.

"Naruto-kun just made a mistake. He thought it was my birthday. I'm s-s-sure it means nothing." Hinata sighed, turning to look at him finally, vase in hand.

The tulips were pretty, shining little bulbs happily swaying in the crystal clear water she had mixed with sugar for their supper. Sasuke's gaze lingered on them. They weren't the light purple tinge that he always bought her. He knew exactly what purple and exactly what kind of white.

These were not it.

For some reason it was bugging him even more that they weren't like the ones he baught her, though that was hardly the point. The point was that some other dobe, a dobe he knew, as a matter of fact, was buying her flowers.

Any other guy would have already beat the crap out of him… right?

At the sight of her staring at him with a slight frown between her pretty brows he knew he was no other guy. He was Sasuke, he was Uchiha, and he was in love with a pale eyed Hyuuga.

She would not tolerate such a thing, and so there he stood, seething and aching to turn around and leave, just to teach Naruto a bloody lesson he wouldn't forget.

"W-why is it such a big deal?" she enquired, walking past him towards the sitting room table in her apartment.

It had been years since she had moved off of the Hyuuga compound, pointing out that if they wanted her to get a backbone they had better let her face the world alone. For the longest time her cousin and father had not spoken to her, but after a while they had warmed up to the idea.

Mainly when she reached the level of Anbu and accidentally insulted the whole group by declining the rank.

'No thank you, I know I'm good enough to join you now, that's all I wanted to prove.'

It was a very Hyuuga thing to do.

"Because." He began, then stopped abruptly, like he had finished his thought. This drew Hinata's eyes to him in an inquiring fashion, brows raised in question.

"…Because…" he repeated, starting to feel like an idiot.

Clumsily, a word not often associated with an Uchiha, he kicked at the ground, scuffing an invisible dirt particle with his shoe.

"Are…" Hinata paused as well, question hanging in the air as she cocked her head, putting the vase down on the table before walking over to him, hands clasped in front of her neatly.

"…are you…" she peeked at his face, looking like she had discovered gravity. "…are you jealous?"

It really was more of a statement than a question. Sasuke looked up quickly, aiming to look incredulous and failing miserably.

Pale genes had this weird way of making it possible for him to turn the bright pink shade of rosy flowers.

"Iie." He still stated, a failed attempt to sound irritated.

Hinata's grin however was hard to ignore, blushing herself, but far more happy than embarrassed she leaned forward, pressing her forehead against his.

He was so tall she had to be on tiptoes, and he was leaning his shoulder casually against the doorway too.

Still, the movement was one of the more forward he had ever seen her do and so froze, staring directly at her in surprise as she smiled, searching his face carefully.

"…I…don't mind that you're jealous." She admitted, kissing first his nose, which made him blink, heat rushing to his ears despite his self control.

"I don't actually like them." She pointed out watching as his eyes flickered away in a silent expression of "Oh."

"They're too…white." She admitted, noting his arm snaking around her waist.

"Oh?" this time he sounded a little more amused, less humiliated. She grinned sheepishly, bright red already at the feel of their bodies pressing against each other.

"Hai." Her heart was already doing funny little skips in her chest as his lips lingered just centimeters from her own. "…I like…purple ones…"

He smirked.

"…but you already knew that."

His agreement was a very long kiss.

I love you. It's as pure and simple as that.

The day that he put that ring on her finger, she found it in a tulip, a purple one. The tulip had been wrapped in a smooth piece of white paper with his careful script upon the surface.

It was a poem he had been writing… for the longest time. Poetry was not an art form he understood. His art was that of kunai, of katana and jutsu, of stealth and power. But for years he had been trying to piece together those things that made him love her, those things that he expected, those things that made him hers, and not the other way around.

Her eyes were overflowing with tears as she read it, trying to keep calm as he slid the ring on her finger smoothly, looking up at her from their perch on the Hyuuga compound roof.

Hinata felt silly. Laughing and smiling and crying at the same time was a hard thing to do and she probably looked like an utter mess for it, but Sasuke didn't see it. He only saw her glowing, only saw her bright beautiful eyes and her trembling lips he could kiss forever now that she had accepted his offer to give himself to her.

Because it wasn't about what she was supposed to give him, and it wasn't about what he demanded. It was love. He loved her.

It's as pure and simple as that.

I love you. It's not a weight you must carry around.

I love you. It's not a box that holds you in.

I love you. It's not a standard you have to bear.

I love you. It's not a sacrifice I make.

I love you. It's not an expectation of perfection.

I love you. It's not a pedestal you are frozen upon.

I love you. It's not to make you change.

I love you. It's not even to make you love me.

I love you. It's as pure and simple as that.