Learning To Waltz

How strange it was that Tenten was the first one of them to get married. It was not that she was not the type, it was just Ino would have never thought she would be first. Hinata had been the first to know, of course, after all it was her family Tenten was marrying into. Sakura had stared forward with her mouth open for about a minute before she could congratulate the older girl. Ino told Tenten if their bridesmaid dresses were some ungodly colour like that pale pink the other girl liked so much, she could forget about Ino's help. Like hell she was going to look like a giant marshmallow!

Tenten smirked. Tenten would probably do it, the girl had a weird sense of humor. Actually, she had a weird sense of everything. Ino could admit Neji was good looking, but that was about it. He was a bit irritating to her, she could not imagine what Tenten saw in him, but she would make certain to threaten him to keep Tenten happy. Or else.

It was strange that Tenten seemed to have everything under control when she really did not. Tenten was the sort of girl who seemed as though she had a grip on everything, one could almost forget that she was the one who hardly knew anything about dating, let alone getting married. Needless to say Ino took charge immediately. With Sakura as her advisor and Hinata as her helper she whipped everything into tiptop shape. She even went as far as to chasing off Lee when he tried to help 'too much'. Ino was in charge, exactly how she liked it. And everything went according to her plan. At least, the plan she had to have formed in to a Hyuuga tradition. But all according to her plan.

She was the only one of them not crying. Why should she? Look at all the work she had put into this! Tenten wanted this marriage and there was nothing Ino was going to do to keep her from having it! And crying was like saying farewell. Tenten was not going anywhere, other then to maybe kick some sense into Hinata's family. Goodness knows they needed a little more pushing in the right direction.

"Ino," Shikamaru said hesitantly, scratching the back of his head, "You're not going to have any ideas left for your own wedding."

Ino laughed happily, not deterred by Shikamaru's statement at all. "I'm not getting married yet, genius," she reminded him, reaching around Chouji to grab her soda which she had placed on the table next to him. Shikamaru said the strangest things at times. Certainly she was not too young to get married, but it was not as if she was running out of time to get a boyfriend or anything. She already had plenty of them lining up at the flower shop.

"But you could be," Chouji was buffeting his friend, of course. Ino was too happy about how perfect everything had gone to really decide to hit both boys in the head and tell them to be intelligent about the matter.

"Pay attention to this beautiful wedding!" she threatened instead, and neither mentioned the matter as she watched the gorgeous ring being slid on to Tenten's finger. Neji had good taste, Ino could give him that.

The only thing which went wrong was when Lee accidentally drank something alcoholic instead of what he had been sticking to: water. Ino did not have to kill anyone though, because despite Gai's failed attempts to stop his student, Sakura managed to drag the green clad ninja out the door. For some reason, Lee did not attack Sakura. Tenten looked as though she was about to snap and it probably was not the best time for the dancing to begin, but Ino would only say she was glad that Lee had given his best man's speech before he went wacko and it was a sad thing Sakura would miss out on the dancing.

She was the one always on the dance floor, but she was the one who was never at lack for a partner, other then the bride, of course. She even managed to drag her two teammates – neither of whom danced – out at some point and she had stolen the hand of the groom, Kiba, Naruto, Asuma-sensei, and even Sasuke. Face flushed by the end, Ino told her last partner, if not just a bit tipsy, she would have to teach Chouji how to waltz.

It was a good thing he was there, because Ino absolutely refused to take a trip to becoming unconscious until she had seen the happy couple leave for their honeymoon. At least she could lean against him that long.

If Tenten being married first was strange, then Hinata being next was a complete shock. Sakura's jaw was hung open again, but she was not the only one. Even Tenten, who saw Hinata on a much greater basis was completely shocked. Ino nearly screamed to ask how it happened and Hinata, whom for once was not blushing, explained very calmly. It was as if she had been pieced together over the years until she was finally complete.

The least noticeable couple, so subtle and sweet. Ino could not believe that the groom was Naruto, the number one loudest ninja in Konoha... maybe in contest to Kiba or Lee at times, but still! It was not hard to put herself in charge of this wedding. After all, she already had experience in the matter and no one was going to contest her position. Sakura stayed in a bit closer this time, watching everything Ino did and putting in more suggestions then she did before.

"Ino," Sakura mentioned, laughing as Hinata was picking out the colours she preferred most, "You should become a wedding planner! Seriously!"

"Why would I do that?" Ino asked, blinking. "The only wedding I have left is yours! If you want to pay me for my services, however, by all means..." Ino grinned at the blush that came up on Sakura's face. Ino was beginning to wonder if the next wedding was going to be a lot sooner then she had thought.

Ino did not cry this time either, for the same reasons. Well, maybe she teared up slightly, but that was because it was Hinata. Their precious and innocent Hinata going ahead into waters only charted by Tenten. Except that it was Naruto and that meant there was nothing anyone could say or do to prepare anyone for anything. Naruto bowing to Hiashi was one of the many things in life Ino thought she would never see. The fact Hiashi smoothly bowed back was nearly a cause for a heart attack.

But the still-maidens found Sasuke as the best man hilarious for some reason and both Ino and Sakura burst out laughing in the middle of his speech. It did not help that he was horrible at speeches in the first place and it took him a while to get started again, glaring at them the whole time.

"I guess you didn't run out of ideas," Shikamaru spoke off-handedly as they walked to where all the festivities were to be had.

"Run out of ideas?" Ino scowled, not understanding what Shikamaru was referring to, but still able to take offense about it. "I don't 'run out of ideas' Shikamaru. Just because you're smart doesn't mean I'm stupid."

"That's not what I meant," Shikamaru sighed, shaking his head. The tone was the same he usually used when he said 'troublesome' or 'women'. "What I mean is... you've always taken more interest in other people's relationships. Shouldn't you... start on your own?"

"'Start on my own'?" Ino scoffed, fixing her bra strap unashamedly. "Are you trying to tell me to get married to some random person? What's your problem? By the way, how're you and Temari doing then?"

Shikamaru sighed again, but Ino had proved her point. At least, she thought she had. But she still did not quite understand why Shikamaru was trying to push the subject. When she wanted to get married, she would. She had plenty of time left to do it. Just because one was a ninja did not mean they had to rush their life along, Ino was enjoying it as it was.

Ino made sure that the dancing started as soon as she could make it. Other then the actual procession, it was her favourite part. This time she managed to dance with Kakashi-sensei and even Shino, though it was only thanks to Hinata the other man would budge from his place at the wall in the first place. Dancing with Lee was about the most exciting thing which could have ever happened that night. Ino, winded by the encounter, understood why Sakura seemed to hog him as a partner, though where Sakura had all the energy to keep it up Ino had no idea. Dancing with Gaara was nearly frightening, but if there was a woman to do it here, it was her. He did not glare at her, which was a plus.

A drunken Kiba kissing Shino had to be the highlight of the evening, even if everything seemed to shut down after that by the fuming Aburame and a suddenly apologetic Kiba. Sakura was staring after her best friend and teammate and another friend walking off with shinning eyes. Ino invited the girl over to her house for a girl's night out. But without Tenten and Hinata something seemed lacking. They made the most of it though, staying up until four o'clock with ice cream, watching cheesy movies and laughing their asses off.

It was when the completely expected question if Ino would be the maid of honor at Sakura's wedding did she begin to understand what it was that Shikamaru had been warning about. Hugging her friend was in no way a stand in for her sudden selfish realizations. All of her friends were becoming married and here she was, the one seeing them off. It did not stop her from accepting and it did not stop her from once again stepping into the shoes of planning out every single detail necessary so that nothing would go wrong. Rehearsals went smoothly under her fingertips, as usual. No one expected less of her, after all.

But it was when the actual ceremony began, Ino found the tears running down her cheeks, no matter the vain attempts at stopping it.

Sakura looked so beautiful...

Getting Lee out of that spandex was almost as if it had been a miracle in itself. There was a bit of an admittance there that she would never tell Sakura. Lee was not that bad looking - the green just did not work on him. And Ino was glad there was one person crying more then her. Gai was louder then he had been at Tenten and Neji's wedding. If Ino had been in the mood, she might have thrown something at him to shut him up. Certainly she was no better, but at least she was not loud! In fact, no one even noticed she was crying. Or at least she thought that was the case. All eyes were on the bride, after all. She was merely a decoration on the side, watching along with the rest of them.

Ino did not feel like dancing that night. She ended up on the dance floor despite that, only after drying her tears and looking as beautiful as she had during the last two weddings she had planned. It went like a blur and she did not remember much of it, until she stepped outside for some fresh air. A waltz was beginning and for some reason she did not want to dance anymore. Wallowing in misery was not something Ino approved in, but she had to think. Though trying to think, she realized she had nothing to think about.

A finger tapping on her shoulder made her look up to see Chouji. Smiling sheepishly, he looked up to the sky and said nonchalantly, "You said you were going to teach me how to waltz..."

She did say that. And what had really changed since then? Her girlfriends got married. Tenten's stomach was a bit rounder then she remembered and Hinata would blush if someone asked her when she planned to have kids soon. So?

Ino wondered what exactly had depressed her in the first place. What was wrong?

"I did," Ino responded quietly. She loved dancing. It was like the spell was broken and she turned her head up to smile at him. "Come on then, you big lug, I'll teach you how to waltz."

She did not need to get married, she was happy as she was. For now. The single woman who was the starting point for her friends. The one they could come back to when married life became too much of a hassle for them, to talk it off. The one who could ride off everything, because she did not know how it was to be in that situation yet.

And she had to teach Chouji how to dance to more then just a waltz. A husband might not be so approving as to her spending that much time dancing with another man. Unless the man was him, of course.

Ino could not help but laugh at that thought.

Yes, I know there is no bridesmaids or maids of honors in traditional Japanese weddings, but considering how many Japanese have Westernized weddings, I decided it would be best if I added that in. Considering how I am 'Western' and would be able to better write about something I know just a little better.