Title: A Delicate Condition

Author: Shawny Wong

Pairing: Naruto/Hinata

Theme: #28 Wada Calcium CD3

Disclaimer: The characters of Naruto belong to Kishimoto Masashi. This story is written without permission, for fan purposes only. Do not reproduce without permission.

Summary: A mistake at the hospital's pharmacy causes trouble for many kunoichi in Konoha – and Hinata finds herself in a delicate condition. Written for Thirty Kisses on Live Journal. NaruHina. Minor pairings: SasuSaku, NejiTen, ShikaIno.

Chapter 5

When Hinata and Naruto first started dating, his apartment was typical of a bachelor's place. Although it was clean and neat (mostly because Naruto spent very little time in it), it was very spartan and impersonal. The walls were bare, the furniture was plain and functional, and the neutral colors made the apartment appear drab and cold. Except for a handful of framed photographs on the mantle and a single potted plant in one corner, the apartment reflected none of Naruto's vibrant personality.

As their relationship grew – and as Hinata naturally started spending more and more time with Naruto – the apartment slowly evolved. A soft lavender throw (large enough for two) folded over the back of the dull brown couch added a touch of color – and it was perfect for cuddling under after a long day. A set of three botanical prints broke the monotony of the off-white walls. And a pretty crystal vase that she kept filled with fresh cut lilacs graced the coffee table. Hinata even managed to tastefully add Naruto's favorite color to the décor. A pair of orange table lamps provided better light for reading. And russet orange silk curtains dressed up the windows, complementing the original bamboo roll-up blinds. The end result was anything but dull and impersonal. It was warm and cozy – and it was theirs.

Hinata stood in the center of the living room and basked in contentment. Other than the wilted flowers on the coffee table – she made a mental note to replace them with a fresh bouquet as soon as possible – the apartment was just as she remembered it. Hinata smiled and sighed happily. It was so good to be home! In her eyes, the Hyuuga estate, for all it's elegance and luxury, could never hold a candle to this modest little apartment. She turned around to find Naruto silently watching her from the doorway. His expression was uncharacteristically somber. Her heart beat faster under his intense scrutiny.


"You're happy," he said sounding surprised - and a bit vulnerable. "I didn't expect to ever see you here..." he gestured vaguely around them "… again, unless it was for you to come to get all your stuff before leaving. But... you... you're genuinely happy... to be here... with me."

"Oh, Naruto-kun..." Hinata bit her lip and swallowed the lump in her throat, suddenly distressed by the reminder of how much she'd hurt him. "I'm s-sorry. I never meant to-"

"It's okay." Naruto smiled brightly at her. "You're here now – and you're happy. That's all that matters."

Naruto joined her in the middle of the room. He lifted his hand and gently caressed the side of her face with his knuckles. Hinata immediately leaned into his touch and made a small sound of pleasure.

"I'm always happy when I'm with you," she said seriously.

"That's good to know," he murmured – and when he leaned down to kiss her, she met him halfway.

It was wanton. It was passion and desire. It was hunger and need. The feel of his lips on hers... the feel of his hands on her body – one tangled in her hair and the other at the small of her back pressing her close to him... the way that he kissed her, as if he needed her more than air... It made her hands tremble. It made her heart pound. It made her head spin.

It made her burn.

"I missed you," she gasped.

"I missed you, too. I really, really missed you."

When Naruto tugged on her hand and gently guided her towards their bedroom, Hinata eagerly followed.

Several hours later...

Naruto propped himself up on one elbow and watched his lover sleep. Hinata lay on her side, facing him with one arm tucked under her head and the other draped over his waist – as if, even in sleep, she wanted to hold him close. Her dark silky hair splayed over the pillow. The sheets had been pulled up over her breasts, but her shoulders were uncovered, exposing perfectly smooth skin... and a series of small discolorations in the curve between her shoulder and neck. Naruto smirked. In the morning, the tiny bruises would be covered by her hitai-ate – and no one would see them. Only he would know that they were there. He couldn't help but feel possessive. Hinata had allowed him to leave his mark on her. She had freely given herself to him. She was his.

But for how much longer? Days? Weeks? A few more months?

Naruto closed his eyes and released a shaky breath.

No. He told himself firmly.

It was no good borrowing trouble. Hinata was here now. He would treasure this time with her. He would take whatever love and affection she was willing to give him and be satisfied with it. He wasn't going to push her for more – which meant no more wishful thoughts of marriage.

He sighed regretfully.

It had been nice to dream about while it had lasted, but he couldn't take the chance. It was too risky. If he proposed and it scared her away, or even worse, if she rejected him completely...

No. I can't. Not when I just got her back!

Hinata shifted a little in her sleep and snuggled closer to him. The movement caused a lock of hair to fall across her face and tickle her nose. She pouted adorably and made a small sound of discontent, apparently not liking the irritation. Naruto pushed aside his depressing thoughts and grinned at the sight. He carefully brushed the offending hair from her face, trying hard not to wake her, but despite his efforts, Hinata's eyes fluttered open. She smiled sweetly at him.

"Mmm... Naruto-kun."

"Sorry. Did I wake you?"

"It's okay. I don't mind."

She put her head on his chest and closed her eyes, perfectly content. The sound of his steady heartbeat almost lulled her to sleep again. Unfortunately, Naruto was less satisfied. As hard as he tried, he couldn't fully relax enough to enjoy the serenity of the moment. Earlier, he'd been so overjoyed to have her back that he hadn't asked any questions. However, now that some of his initial euphoria had faded, he wanted to know. He needed to know – if only to prevent something like this from ever happening again.



Naruto hesitated, but then pressed forward.

"Why? Earlier... you said that I didn't do anything wrong... so then why?" he asked haltingly. "Why didn't you want to see me anymore? I don't... I don't understand."

Hinata sat up abruptly, pulling the sheets up around her. Naruto sat up, too, and leaned back against the headboard. He watched her warily, wondering if he'd made her angry. But when she turned to face him, he saw that she was... blushing! She wasn't angry. She was embarrassed!

"I'm sorry, Naruto-kun. I was just scared and confused, but... it's... it all seems so silly now."

"I still want to know. Tell me?"

She opened her mouth to tell him about the baby... and faltered. He'd had the engagement ring for months – and yet, he'd never proposed. What if he'd changed his mind? Maybe he didn't want to marry her, after all.

"I had a bad dream," she said, instead; her shoulders sagged. "I've been having a lot of bad dreams recently... nightmares, actually. In them, we... I-I'm always a... a burden to you... I'm holding you back... because I'm so weak and in the end... every single time... you hate me for it."

"How could you think that?!" Naruto burst out. "You're one of the strongest people I know! I love you! Nothing could ever make me hate you!"

"You don't know that!"

"Yes. I do," he said fiercely.

"What if I did something terrible?" she whispered, looking away. "What if I... became a missing nin?"

"Then I would follow you."

Hinata's head snapped up and she stared at him in disbelief.

"But then you'd become a missing nin, too!"

"Yes," he agreed with a shrug. "I guess I would."

"You can't do that!" she protested. "You love this village!"

"I love you more."

That simple statement shook her entire world view. She had loved him from afar for as long as she could remember. She had been the failure of her clan. She had been the "weird" girl at the Academy that everyone ignored. Having him love her back – even just a tiny bit – was like a miracle. Having him love her back more than he loved Konoha (which she knew he loved with a passion) was simply... impossible!

Except Naruto wasn't lying. (He was horrible at it – and she could always tell when he was.)

"But your dream! If you did that, then you couldn't be Hokage," she said in a small voice. "What if I'm the reason you can't become Hokage? What if I'm holding you back? What if I'm-"

"Shh…" He placed a finger over her lips. "Stop and listen to me for a bit. Okay?

"When I was a kid, I wanted to be Hokage more than anything else – but it was all for the wrong reasons – for selfish reasons. I wanted to be Hokage so that people would acknowledge my existence. I thought, 'If I were strong and cool, then everyone will pay attention to me and respect me.' I didn't care about what the Hokage does for the village and for the people. I only cared about what being Hokage would do for me.

"That changed after I became a genin. I realized... I don't need strangers to notice me. All I need are my precious people. As long as I have at least one precious person, I have a purpose – a reason for my existence. Now, I want to be Hokage because, as the Hokage, I'll have the most resources, the most connections, and the most ability to protect everyone precious to me.

"I want to be Hokage, someday. But even if I weren't, I would still do all that I could to protect everyone – because that's my nindo. So in the end… it doesn't matter if I'm Hokage or not! If I stay a jounin for the rest of my life... that's okay! I'll protect my precious people as a jounin. The Hokage is only a title. It won't kill me if I don't get it.

"But these last two weeks without you... and when I thought we were over... it hurt." Naruto shuddered. Saying that it hurt was like saying the desert was just a bit dry or that the ocean was just a bit wet – in other words, a massive understatement. He knew that a Chidori through the chest would have hurt less.

"I never want to go through that again. If I had to choose between becoming Hokage or staying with Hinata-chan, then I choose Hinata-chan. I love you – and I will never hate you."

Hinata's eyes blurred with tears. She sniffled and blamed the overwhelming urge to cry on her fluctuating hormones. She took a deep breath. It was now or never.

"Not even if I was accidentally pregnant?"


Naruto binked. He blinked again.


"Um... How is that a bad thing?" he wondered aloud; he was so absolutely bewildered (What the hell does that have to do with anything?) that he spoke without thinking. "It'd be great if you were pregnant."


"Well, yeah..." he said wistfully. "If we had a baby, then we'd be a real family."

He froze the moment his head caught up with his mouth. Oh. Shit!

"A family?"

"No! I mean yes! B-But only if you wanted to, of c-course! We don't have to, if you don't want one. We're fine the way we are!" he added hastily. "It's just... I've always wanted... I thought a family would be nice, you know? There's no pressure! It's not a big deal, if you'd rather not."

Hinata was staring at him with wide eyes. Naruto cringed and silently cursed his big mouth. So much for not scaring her away. He bit the inside of his cheek and bowed his head.

"It was only a passing thought, Hinata-chan. Forget about it, okay?"

"Naruto-kun? Do you want for us to be a family?"

"Can we just forget about this?" he asked evasively, not wanting to lie – and not wanting to incriminate himself further.

"I can't forget about it because..." she blushed "... I want that, too."

"You do?" he asked hopefully. "You want to have a family with me?"

"Yes, very much," she said with a shy smile.


Naruto tackled her, making her fall backwards onto her back, and making her laugh at his enthusiastic response. He kissed her again and again – hardly able to believe his amazing luck. She wanted to have a family with him – which meant that she wanted to marry him! His cute little genin had been right after all. All he needed to do to make it official was the…

Oh no! The ring!

Hinata was enjoying Naruto's kisses right up until he suddenly cursed and almost fell out of bed in his haste to get dressed.

"Naruto-kun? What is it? What's wrong?"

She grabbed one of his old t-shirts that she used for sleeping in. By the time she pulled the t-shirt over her head, Naruto was already fully dressed and tying his hitai-ate around his forehead.

"Sorry, Hinata-chan! I misplaced something very, very important – and I have to find it right away. Wait here, okay? I'll be right back."

"But... what are you looking for?"

"Oh... um... It's... It's a surprise," he hedged, too embarrassed to admit that he'd lost her engagement ring.

"A surprise?" she wondered. "Can't it wait?"

"No! No, I want to give it to you now," he said, distractedly as he glanced out the window. Damn it! It was already sunset. The ring would be almost impossible to find in the dark! "I'll be back as soon as I find it. Okay? Then I can do this properly."

A surprise? For me? What could be so important that he has to give it to me now?

She inhaled sharply, as all the pieces suddenly fell together.

"Wait, Naruto-kun." Hinata picked up her jacket which had been carelessly tossed to the floor (along with the rest of their clothes) and quickly searched the pockets. "Are you looking for this?"

Naruto would have recognized the small black box sitting in the palm of her hand anywhere. It was the ring that he'd commissioned for Hinata. He stared at her in astonishment.

"How did you…?"

"Your genin gave it to me."

Naruto stilled.

"Which one?"

"All three of them," Hinata admitted. "They came to see me right after classes at the Academy."

"Nosy little brats! That's it. They are getting training time with Lee and the absolute worst D-ranks I can dig up!"

"Please don't do that, Naruto-kun. The boys only wanted to help," she said reproachfully. Then she grinned. "In fact, they tried very hard to convince me that you were 'perfect husband material'."

"They did, huh?" he drawled. "Fine. I won't send them to Lee, but they're still getting the worst D-ranks I can find, for at least a month!"

Hinata giggled – knowing that he wasn't truly upset with his genin – but her laughter died the moment he got down on one knee. She couldn't move. She couldn't speak. She couldn't breathe.

"I love you, Hinata-chan. I want to spend the rest of my life with you." Naruto slipped the ring onto her finger. "Will you marry me?"


Naruto knew he was grinning like an idiot, but he didn't care.

She said yes! She said yes!

Hinata was wearing an old oversized t-shirt that barely came down to her hips – and her her long dark hair was messy from sleep (and from being thoroughly ravished by him), but Naruto thought that she was the most beautiful girl in the whole world. She was wearing his ring. She was going to be his wife.

He had never been more turned on in his entire life.

It didn't matter that he'd already made love to her multiple times less than three hours ago. He desperately needed to make love to her again. He captured her lips in a kiss that left her breathless. Then he started kissing the side of her neck – sucking and making small swirling patterns with his tongue. He relished the way that she gasped his name and trembled under his touch.

"W-Wait, Naruto-kun. There's... s-something else..." she protested. She pushed at his shoulders, trying without success to get him to stop for a moment. He was making it incredibly difficult for her to speak in full sentences. "I need to... to tell you a-about-"

"Tell me later."

"Ohhh..." she moaned, as he slipped his hands under her shirt and did that thing with his tongue that always made her knees go weak. "O-Okay."

She wasn't able to speak in full sentences for the rest of the night.

One person – no matter how intelligent or hardworking – could not hope to run a clan as large as the Hyuuga alone. Not only was it impractical, but allowing a single person absolute authority over the clan was pure folly. Someone with that much power was simply too susceptible to corruption – and too susceptible to abuse of that power. These were the reasons behind the formation of the Hyuuga clan council. Its main task was to assist and advise the clan head in the day-to-day ruling of the clan. Its secondary task was to check the power of the clan head. With a two thirds majority, the clan council could overrule the clan head. It was a system that had worked for generations.

The Hyuuga clan council officially consisted of twelve of the wisest, strongest, and most revered members of the main branch. In theory, they were all equal – no member having more influence than another. However, in reality, there existed an unofficial hierarchy within the clan council. Four elders stood at the top of this heirarchy.

Hyuuga Daichi was the oldest member of the council. He was 90 years old – and the only council member alive who had served under Hiashi's grandfather. He was also a brilliant orator and public speaker. In his long tenure as a council member, nearly every proposal, recommendation, or motion that he supported had passed. (Only a handful had not.) Having his support on any issue before the clan council practically guaranteed its success.

Hyuuga Kenta had been the "prodigy" of his generation. In his prime, he had been the best Jyuuken user in the clan – although Neji and several of his peers had already surpassed him. He was the security chief of the clan, personally training the body guards of the main house and overseeing the training of the next generation of Jyuuken users. He was blunt and outspoken – a fighter first and a politician second.

Hyuuga Takuma, on the other hand, was not much of a fighter. (His Jyuuken was average at best.) His strength lay in his intellect – and in his gift for numbers. He was literally a financial genius. He could take 1000 ryo and quadruple it within a year by making smart financial investments. He managed 75 percent of the clan's extensive finances and had singlehandedly doubled the clan's wealth in the years since he took over from his predecessor. He was also one of the youngest members on the council. (He was only 35.)

Hyuuga Nori was the Hyuuga ambassador to the Fire Lord's court. He represented the clan, negotiated contracts that would favor the Hyuuga, and kept the council up to date on the current political affairs in the Land of Fire. He was a consummate politician and had many contacts and friends among the nobles and diplomats – quite a few of whom owed him (and by extension, the clan) "favors."

Where the Four led, the rest of the clan council would follow – and on the rare occasion that the Four were unanimous, not even the clan head could prevail against them.

Should the Four decide to seal and banish the heiress, not even Hiashi could stop them. Hyuuga Sho thought smugly.

He made his way sedately across the sprawling estate, walking past the elegant gardens and koi ponds. But he did not stop to enjoy them. After all, he did not want to be late to his appointment this morning.

Tsk. Tsk. I wonder if Hiashi knows that his precious daughter isn't as innocent as she appears. Sho smirked. If he doesn't, he will, as soon as I expose her dirty little secret. Once the Four know, I have no doubt they'll do the right thing. Then the clan will finally be rid of its greatest embarrassment.

He slid open the shoji door and entered the conference room where the clan council held its weekly meetings. There were thirteen seats placed around a long low table – twelve for the members of the council and one for the clan head. Today, only four seats were occupied.

Sho bowed slightly in greeting to his fellow councilors before taking his own seat at the table.

"I must admit that you've made me curious, Sho," remarked Daichi. "The next council meeting is in two days. What could be so urgent that it could not wait until then?"

"I understand, Daichi-san. However, as this matter greatly affects the clan, I wanted to inform you immediately. I've discovered something about heiress that you should know..."

Tsunade eyed her favorite blonde ninja suspiciously.

Twice a week, on the days he wasn't training his genin team, she made Naruto her personal assistant at the Hokage tower. This served several purposes. It gave Naruto valuable on-the-job training. It gave her more help with her never ending pile of paperwork. And it gave Shizune some much needed time off. Because Naruto was still very new to the administrative side of being Hokage, she was having him read over completed documents and filing them – and she was sending him on errands to the various departments within the Hokage tower, so that he could learn and familiarize himself with the way things worked. In a few more weeks, she would have him take a more active role.

Naruto hated reading over her finished paperwork – and he hated filing. He did the work grudgingly because he knew that he needed the experience. To her surprise, he didn't complain about it too much having matured over the years – though that didn't prevent him from shooting her annoyed glares as he worked. He was never happy to see a huge stack of documents waiting for him when he came into the office. He never grinned like Christmas had come early every time she passed him a new folder to review and file. And... was he humming?

He was! It had to be an impostor.

Tsunade discretely checked for signs of genjutsu or henge but found nothing.

So... if it's not genjutsu and it's not henge, then that's the real Naruto. Either I'm drunk enough to be hallucinating or Hell just froze over.

"What's gotten into you today, brat? You act like you just won the lottery!"

"Nope! It's something even better! I'm getting married!"

"What?! Since when?!"

"Since last night. Hinata said yes!" he said, grinning from ear to ear; his blue eyes sparkled with delight. "I wasn't sure if she would, but she did! She said yes!"

"Congratulations!" Tsunade smiled; his joy was contagious. "Hinata's a wonderful girl. Have you set a date yet?"

"No. We haven't had a chance to talk about it yet, but I'd like for it to be soon."

"Yes, the sooner the better." She nodded sagely. "We don't want to give her a chance to change her mind, do we?"

Tsunade laughed when Naruto squawked indignantly at her teasing.

"Don't say things like that, Baa-chan!"

"So..." she drawled; she placed both elbows on top of her desk, laced her fingers together, and propped her chin on her hands. "Tell me all about the proposal – and don't leave out any details!"

"Err... There's not much to tell." Naruto shrugged and rubbed the back of his head sheepishly. "I asked her and she said yes."

"You didn't do anything special?" she asked incredulously. "No romantic date? No candlelight dinner? Nothing?!"

"Um... No?" He wilted under her glare. "We were just talking and..."

Naruto's voice trailed off as he thought back on their conversation. He frowned. There had been something off about it – and it had been nagging at the back of his mind all morning. What was it? Just before he'd proposed, Hinata had confessed that she wanted for them to be a family, too.

Why were we talking about families? Oh... I remember now.

"You know... Now that I think about it... Hinata said something really strange last night."

"What did she say?" asked Tsunade curiously. She handed him an small stack of mission reports that needed to be filed. Then she reached for the next document at the top of her inbox.

"We were talking and she basically asked me how I'd feel if she were accidentally pregnant. She seemed really worried about it, too. It was weird."

Tsunade's eyes widened. She stared at him in shock, before looking down at the document in her hands, and then looking up to gape at him again.

"Naruto," she said carefully, "have you considered the possibility that maybe it wasn't a rhetorical question?"

"Not a rhetorical question?" Naruto tilted his head to one side in confusion. "But then... that would mean..."

I'm not dumping you! I... I just... I've been trying to tell you...

I'm sorry, Naruto-kun. I was just scared and confused...

Hinata hadn't been avoiding him because she wanted to break up with him. She'd been avoiding him because she'd been scared and confused. She'd been scared and confused because…

Not even if I was accidentally pregnant?

The way her voice trembled... The way her hands reflexively clenched the bedsheets protectively in front of her chest... The way her lavender eyes watched him fearfully, waiting for his reaction... Everything about that moment slammed back into him so quickly that it left him reeling.

Not a rhetorical question! Oh, my God... Oh, my God...

"Oh, my God!" Naruto was on his feet in a flash and racing out the door. "Sorry, Baa-chan! I have to go!"

Tsunade chuckled, then she got back to work. She glanced over the form in her hand one more time and signed it, thereby granting yet another leave of absence...

… to one Hyuuga Hinata.

By the time Hinata woke up, it was nearly noon.

She came awake slowly, stretching languidly and burying her head in her pillow. It was the first time in weeks that her sleep had been untroubled by nightmares. Instead, she'd had the most wonderful dream – and she wanted to savor it. She rolled over onto her back and bit back a groan. It was too bright! She brought up one hand to block the light, but something on her hand reflected the sunlight directly into her sensitive eyes and...

Hinata gasped and bolted upright.

The beautiful ring on her hand was real.

It was real! She hadn't been dreaming! Naruto had proposed! They were getting married! She hugged the pillow to her chest and giggled like a silly schoolgirl. The sheer joy singing through her veins made her so giddy that she couldn't help it.

We're getting married! And we're having a baby!

Before this very moment, Hinata had been so frightened by her darkest fears and haunted by her nightmares that she hadn't been able to simply let go and enjoy her pregnancy. A small part of her had always been happy about it, of course. (How could she not be happy? She was having Naruto's baby!) Unfortunately, that happiness had been constantly overshadowed. Now that those fears had been put to rest...

I can't wait to tell Naruto! I can't wait to tell our friends!

After a quick shower, a change of clothes, and a small breakfast of cereal and milk... (There was very little food left in the apartment, so she decided to do some grocery shopping later in the day.) ... Hinata made her way to the Academy. Only years of training in proper decorum prevented her from skipping all the way there.

I can't believe how much I overslept. It's a good thing I only have afternoon classes at the Academy today.

Of course, thinking about the reason that she'd overslept made her blush bright red. (Several passerby regarded her red face curiously, which only made her cheeks burn hotter.) She'd overslept because Naruto had kept her up half the night. Not that she minded – especially not when she'd been a very willing participant! She walked faster, hoping that the increased breeze would cool her rosy cheeks.

The streets of Konoha were busiest during the noontime lunch hour. People from all walks of life bustled about the village conducting their business and running errands. The shopping district was especially crowded. Restaurants were packed with customers taking their lunch break, while shoppers browsed through the many stores (selling everything from weapons and clothing to tea, scrolls, and exotic collectibles from distant lands) that were vying for their patronage.

As Hinata passed through the shopping district, a small shop caught her eye. A wooden sign in the shape of a curling leaf hung over the door; the name of the shop "The Budding Leaf" was painted in the center in bright cheerful green. She couldn't help but stop and look at the adorable stuffed toys, the wicker bassinet, and the other assorted baby items that were openly displayed in the front window.

I should go. I won't need any of these things for months, but... that's so cute!

The temptation was too much to resist. A few minutes later, Hinata exited the store with a small shopping bag in one hand. She laughed softly and chided herself for being so impulsive – though she didn't regret her purchase at all.

Despite her unexpected shopping detour, Hinata arrived at the Academy ten minutes before her afternoon classes were scheduled to start. (She breathed a sigh of relief.) A sudden shout made her turn around.


Naruto had run straight to the Academy from the Hokage tower, narrowly dodging obstacles and almost causing several painful collisions with pedestrians. By the time he found his fiancée, his spiky blond hair was windblown and wildly sticking up in every direction – and he was panting from exertion. He skidded to a stop before Hinata and placed his hands on his knees while he tried to catch his breath.

"Naruto-kun? What are you doing here?" asked Hinata worriedly. "Aren't you supposed to be working with Tsunade-sama today?"

Naruto didn't even hear her questions. His mind was still so stunned by the possibility of "not a rhetorical question" that he couldn't focus on anything else. His heart was pounding madly – and not just from his recent run through the village. And his blue eyes were riveted on her still flat stomach. He placed a shaking hand over her abdomen and finally raised his eyes to meet hers.

"Hinata-chan, are you...?"

She nodded slowly and – with a beatific smile – pressed a small brightly colored object into his hands. It was an orange and yellow baby rattle.

Naruto was so rattled that it took a few seconds for his mind to come up with a logical conclusion.

A baby rattle plus "not a rhetorical question" equals? Equals?!

"We're having a baby," he breathed.

"Congratulations, Naruto-kun."

Naruto whooped – startling all the students and teachers in the area around them – laughed and swung her around and around until she was dizzy. Then he gently, ever-so-carefully, set her back down on her feet and proceeded to kiss her breathless.

To be continued...

Author's Notes:

(1) As promised, this chapter has plenty of super-sweet-cavity-inducing NaruHina fluff. I even threw in some citrusy goodness. (grins) I hope it makes up for all the angst, at least a little! I was drowning in sap as I was writing this. I actually ended up deleting a section of Naruto and Hinata's tête–à–tête because it was getting too sappy – even for me!

(2) For the record, I don't write lemons. However, if this chapter has you craving a real lemon, you should check out Clones by Perpetual159 on this site. It's an excellent story, well-written, and sexy; the lemon in chapter 6 is a combination of sweet fluff and steamy erotica. Give it a try! You won't be disappointed!

(3) Author's Pet Peeve: The undeveloped, faceless, nameless, evil Hyuuga elder.

Okay. I understand that in terms of setting up a plot, the random Hyuuga elder makes a great antagonist. But... For the love of ldjafdadslkfj!!! Please, please do a little bit of character development. Don't just call him "that Hyuuga-teme" or "that Hyuuga-bastard" or "that shriveled up old mummy"! (If you call him that too many times, I start to feel sorry for the poor guy!) A lot of fanfics don't develop their Hyuuga villains, beyond making them an enemy of NaruHina. I don't expect a lot, since I don't care much for OC's. A few sentences is more than enough.

Come on! You couldn't even give him a first name? Not even 'Bob' or 'Joe'? /sarcasm

Therefore, my Hyuuga villains get names, faces, personalities, and a bit of back-story.

(4) Random Observation: Have you noticed that baby/maternity stores are often named after produce?

In my area, there's "A Pea in the Pod" and "Pumpkin Patch." I thought it was cute, so I decided to stick with that theme. Hence, "The Budding Leaf."

(5) Please review! Thanks!

EDIT 4/27/09: Fixed typos. Many thanks to Perpetual159 and hinata_fan433 (of LJ) for pointing out several that I'd missed!