KairaKi: I just finished revising and editing this chapter to my liking today, right after having posted that it wasn't ready to be unveiled to the general public... Lol, well, here you have it; the story that has been the main focus of my attention lately.
Chapter 1: Dream of Azure Skies: Fiancé and Husband
The sky was a bright shade of cyan blue, with no clouds to hide its intense color. The sun was a single hole in the sky with light pouring through, burning everything it touched. All in all it was an extremely hot, dry, Konoha summer. It was the kind of day where everyone stayed inside with their air conditioning turned up high. The kind of day where places that actually had air conditioning was packed. It was the kind of day where you could burn an egg on the sidewalk in less than five seconds without even cracking it open. Only idiots would be outside during high noon in this heat. Then again if you were a Konoha shinobi you had to be out rain, sleet, hail, or even intense heat. Even the heiress of the esteemed Hyuuga clan was no different.
Hyuuga Hinata had been training non-stop since that same morning, her work out getting more intense as the sun rose, and each article of useless, heat absorbing, clothing was discarded, until she was wearing nothing but fishnet with shorts and a skin hugging white undershirt. Normally Hinata would not dare train in the publics' eye with such attire on, she was still seen with a giant hooded jacket most of the time, even during the warmer days, but today she could care less.
Tomorrow she was getting married, she had the right to try and kill herself of dehydration and heat stroke before she got hooked. Okay, maybe that wasn't the point; maybe it was something deeper... Something on an emotional level, like her father informing her that she may be free from the Hyuuga if she became a wife (under his proposals) exactly one month ago, or maybe it was the way everything seemed to be so damn suffocating!
Hot. That was how the weather had been ever since her father told her of the arranged marriage (she still didn't know who it was, just that she had to have her emotions properly schooled for the ceremony), and she hated it. The soft thudding of her hands hitting the post and the soft crackle of splintering wood became faded in her mind as she recalled the scene a month ago. It was a day just like today, hot, with no clouds, and no other life forms besides shinobi wandering the streets.
"Hinata-sama, your father requests your presence in the garden tearoom." A branch member, one of the few not trained as a shinobi, bowed low behind the screen door. Even with the object blocking her view of the other Hyuuga, Hinata could recognize the voice as belonging to a Hyuuga Aiko, a mother and wife to a family of three decent Hyuuga shinobi.
"Thank you, Aiko-san, I will go to him immediately."
There was a rustle of clothing as Hinata stood up. Aiko slid the door open and shuffled to the side as Hinata exited. Her head was bowed and the signature dark brown Hyuuga hair that crowned her brushed the wooden floors lightly.
Hinata mimicked Aiko's earlier position when she reached the tearoom, only this time, instead of scooting to the side; Hinata shuffled into the room and closed the door behind her. Her father was calmly setting out the tea as he waited for his daughter to be seated.
With practiced motion Hinata poured her father a cup of steaming tea, waiting for him to drink before filling her own cup as tradition dictated.
"You are a young lady now, Hinata." Hiashi commented off-handedly as his daughter refilled his cup after the stifling silence. "You are almost ready to take over the Clan."
Hinata inclined her head, "Hai, Otou-sama."
"You were present at the last Council meeting, you understood what was discussed, correct?" Hiashi placed the cup on the table with a solid thunk. Hinata made no move to refill it.
"Then you understand that once you take power your sister will be branded with the Seal." Hinata glanced at her father's expression but found that he was as stone faced as ever. "You do remember that you were engaged to the son of Konoha's Kurosu clan, and that your wedding date is set for the fall of next year?"
Hinata nodded again. The engagement had been set for two years; she had been continuously meeting with her fiancé since then. She found Kurosu Hiroyuki to be lively and a bit single minded, but decent overall. The Kurosu clan was known for their rare genetic mutation in their chakra system, this mutation allowed for an nearly unlimited reserve of chakra (Hinata was unsure of the aspects of such a mutation, but she had been informed that the mutation was a dominant gene that would be sure to carry over to the offspring of a clan member and a person without said mutation), that her father seemed keenly interested in.
"You do not want Hanabi to become part of the Branch house." It was a statement. "I have a proposal for you." Hiashi was never one to beat around the bush when unnecessary. "Hanabi will take your place as heir to the clan and be engaged to your current fiancé, and you instead will marry another... suitor."
Hinata felt her heart speed up. "What are the effects of your proposal, Otou-sama?" She questioned. Inside she was bursting with joy at the thought that her sister may have a chance to remain in the Main family.
A ghost of a smile graced Hiashi's features at his daughter's diplomatic response. "Your new fiancé will remain unknown until the day before the wedding. Your offspring will be spared from the Clan, unless of course, your child should hold the Byakugan, in that case some counter measures must be taken to insure that he or she will no become a liability to the Clan's bloodline. Hanabi, in this circumstance, will become Clan head, and take up your current duties."
Hinata refilled her father's empty cup. "I agree to your proposal."
After that they had worked out a few kinks in the arrangement, and then announced it to the Council two weeks later. Now here she was trying to kill herself through training. She had the answer now though; it was a case of cold feet. No matter how much she tried, Hinata could not find it in herself to regret the decision. Hanabi had been out right shocked and Neji seemed a bit surprised, and all the Elders had been slightly outraged at the fact that their current Head had not informed them of his decision.
Neji always spoke in low tones with her, never raising his voice against her. Hinata attributed it to his guilt over the injury he had given her so long ago; she didn't understand the guilt, she had forgiven him... "Nii-san," Hinata greeted back with a careless smile.
She was sweaty and covered in dirt and cuts and was holding a weapon in hand, but to Neji, his cousin seemed more like a china-doll now than ever. "Hiashi-sama requests your presence to meet your husband to be." He had paused at husband; he was still fuming at the arrangement for reasons unknown to Hinata.
"Ah." Hinata looked at the shruiken strewn about the grass. They were used first as firing utensils, now they were just there to mimic a battlefield strewn with bodies. She had to watch her step whenever she moved while remaining concentrated on the task at hand; it was annoying, but useful for her training. "Thank you, Neji-nii-san." A simple seal made the shruiken vanish back into their summoning scroll, and a few quick fluid movements allowed Hinata to gather her discarded clothing.
All the while Neji waited patiently.
"Okay, I'm ready Neji-nii-san, shall we go now?" Hinata said facing her taller, stronger, cousin-- her Protector, though today was his last day, tomorrow he would officially be assigned to Hanabi in a joint ceremony. It would feel odd, knowing that there was no one watching her when she went out. No one appearing by her side at a moment's notice, no one tailing her and no one to playfully 'run' from (she never got far anyway).
Neji nodded and waited for Hinata to lead. He always did walk half a step behind her when they weren't on missions.
Hinata sat across from her father and her husband-to-be; Hanabi sat to one side of her while Neji stood guard on the other side, at the door. She wanted to retract the proposal right then and there, and no doubt Neji wanted her to do the same. Hanabi, however, was harder to read, she seamed slightly amused and a bit worried.
She was about to become Uchiha Hinata, and it didn't have a bad ring to it either. Her father was really good; there was no way she could retract her agreement so close to the wedding date, and there was no way she could mess up during the ceremony now. The silence was beginning to border on unbearable. Hanabi began shifting nervously in her seat. Hinata remained stone still.
"Hinata, meet your husband-to-be." Hiashi said, "Uchiha Sasuke." Sasuke gave a half bow appropriate for his station, which Hinata returned it.
"Otou-sama what are-- is the reason for-- behind this bu--this arrangement?" Hanabi asked, stubbornly correcting herself when her normal speaking habits broke into the delicately rehearsed diplomatic question.
Hiashi nodded his approval at Hanabi's choice of words. They were not at Hinata's level of diplomacy, but she was making progress. "It is an enactment on an old promise, so to speak, made by myself and the previous head of the Uchiha clan some years ago."
Hanabi opened her mouth to speak, but was beaten to it by her sister as she tried to formulate an appropriate response. "May we inquire the nature of this promise, Otou-sama?"
Hiashi paused a while to gather the collect words to express the idea behind the promise. "The unity of the two Clans, so to speak, to help with relations, not necessarily to become one, but to reach an understanding." He answered.
Sasuke turned his head to the side and from what Hinata could make out he was frowning. He turned again, suddenly, and caught her eye. Something in his gaze made her blush, and her heart beat faster -- in fear? --, forcing her to look away.
"Neji, escort Hanabi out to her meeting with Kurosu-san." Hiashi ordered.
Neji bowed in submission. "Hanabi-sama?" Neji bowed towards Hanabi.
Hanabi stood slowly, stubbornly trying to mimic Hinata's usual graceful exit. Neji waited patiently, like he usually did with Hinata, and he opened the door for Hanabi before waiting for her to lead; he stayed two steps behind her.
"Now onto other matters of importance," Hiashi pulled out a scroll from under the table. "The rituals for the ceremony..."
Sakura was pasing around the base of the tree, biting her thumb, and muttering words under her breath when Ino Shikamaru, and Chouji stumbled on two of the Team 7 members. Naruto was lazing about but the worried look on his face wasn't lost to the trio.
"Yo, Forehead Girl, what's wrong with you?" Ino called out tauntingly. Behind her Shikamaru muttered something about invading other people's privacy.
"S-Sasuke-kun is getting married tomorrow!" Sakura cried out shrilly. "Married!" It was a well known fact that even after all these years Haruno Sakura still harbored something akin to love for the lone Uchiha.
Ino found herself frowning in thought. She had long given up her pathetic childhood crush on Sasuke, but she couldn't help but feel a little jealous and a whole lot of surprise. "Married?" She asked. "To who?"
"Sasuke-teme is getting married to Hinata-chan!" Naruto answered from his place by the tree.
"Hinata-chan?" Ino said the name; not really understanding who this 'Hinata' was until. "You mean our Hinata-chan? Hyuuga Hinata-chan? Rookie Nine Hinata-chan?" Her tone was disbelieving. How had this come about and without her knowing? Shikamaru muttered something about clan policies and not butting into other people's business but Ino ignored him. "When did this happen?"
Sakura fished something out of her pockets and shoved it in Ino's face. "Look at this! Look at it!" Ino grabbed the invitation and took a step back from the frantic girl.
YOU HAVE BEEN FORMALLY INVITED TO THE WEDDING OF
You have been formally invited to my daughter, Hyuuga Hinata's, wedding to Uchiha Sasuke.
The ceremony will take place at the Hyuuga compound tomorrow at the assigned time below.
We wish that you will attend this momentous occasion and celebrate with us as we unite two clans.
Ino looked over the invitation with obvious interest. It was simple, but elegant, and obviously hand written by the Head of Hyuuga, which meant that it was something very important to the Hyuuga clan. "Hinata-chan's lucky then." Ino said throwing the invitation back at Sakura.
Sakura caught it without trouble and glared at Ino. The expression was wiped off her face when the pink haired girl's notice someone walking towards them. "Sasuke-kun!" Ignoring Naruto's yells Sakura rushed off to face her 'one true love'.
Ino turned to look at her teammates thoughtfully. "I wonder if we got invitations?"
"How troublesome." Shikamaru sighed as Ino dragged him and Chouji back to her house to check. Chouji nodded in agreement.
"Sasuke-kun this is a joke right? You aren't really getting married, right?" Sakura asked. She was blocking his path home, not allowing him to pass until he answered her question.
"Hai." He answered in a bored tone. "Hinata-san and I hope you can attend our wedding tomorrow."
Sakura seemed to crumble before him. "Why? Why her?"
"SASUKE-TEME HOW DARE YOU TAKE ADVANTAGE OF POOR HINATA-CHAN!" Naruto yelled, he tried to tackle Sasuke, but the dark hair boy merely sidestepped the attack.
"Clan business. You two wouldn't understand." Sasuke muttered before walking away. Sakura watched, her heart broken, and the last of her dreams shattered. She would never become Uchiha Sakura now.
"C'mon Sakura-chan, let's get something to eat. Forget about Sasuke-teme." Naruto offered seeing the hurt look in his female companion's face.
"No, Naruto, I think I'll go home." Sakura said dazedly.
Naruto watched, a pained expression on his face, as Sakura walked away. "Stupid Teme."
Neji observed Hanabi from afar as she interacted with Kurosu Hiroyuki. The two's relationship was different from Hinata's relationship with the boy, much different. Though Hiroyuki was only three years older than Hinata, he was exactly eight years older than Hanabi, something that was not lost to the younger girl (Neji had caught her muttering to herself about being married to an old man), but he treated her like his equal. It may have had to do with Hinata warning him about Hanabi's volatile temper (angering the young girl could bring down the wrath of a million fire ball suns, when that happened even Hiashi and the Elders could only watch in fear) or the fact that Hiroyuki really liked Hanabi.
Neji suppressed the urge to roll his eyes at Hanabi's disastrous attempt at mimicking a graceful, demure, young lady. Hiroyuki seemed to find the act hilarious since he took his chances with baiting her in hopes of breaking her imperfect act. Neji would late report back to Hinata that she had nothing to fear about Hanabi's relationship with Hiroyuki; it would be one thing less his cousin would have to worry about. In the distance Hiroyuki leaned forward towards Hanabi. Neji frowned, it was time to act like the stuffy Protector he was (or maybe the other boy's new bodyguard if Hanabi caught on fast enough).
KairaKi:I hope I got most of the grammar mistakes out. If you're confused about anything feel free to ask. I will be more than happy to explain! Ah, you can never get tired of the "Forced Marriage" aspect of the SasuHina fandom... at least not until you read the enough stories that have the exact same plot. I hope that this story won't become too "overdone".
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