Thank you,
to everyone
who stuck
with this silly
little story.

yours, so truly,


"Maybe sometimes, we've got it wrong, but it's alright.
The more things seem to change, the more they stay the same.
Don't you hesitate."

Corinne Bailey Rae

It was a strange emotion that Hinata felt as she was pulled slowly backwards, reeled like a caught fish.

It was the feeling of her heart slowly being ripped from her chest.
Before her, the voices dimmed until there was nothing but the echo remaining, and even it was pale. All around was darkness, but it was no pool like before. Whatever stood stationary beneath her was solid, concrete. There was distinction there, there was a grim reality.

No, this time Hinata knew things were different, much different.
She did not float, but touched the damp Earth in the dark, her eyes consumed by tears. As soon as the silky grass touched her body she gave out, crumpling to the ground in sobs of loss, and grief. She had lost them, or, more likely, they had been taken from her. Her son. Her beautiful baby boy, her beautiful little boy.

The one she could only love now from afar, the one she had not been able to hold, but only drink in with her eyes. Her wonderful stranger, her quiet voice, her lovely, lovely prayer, had been stolen from her.

Sobs racked her body so strongly she convulsed; never in her life had she felt this pain. This pain. Naruto's face called out to her, the gradual slipping of her hand from his, her life from her body.

"No! NO!" She screamed, beating the ground, "YOU CAN'T DO THIS TO ME! WHAT HAVE I DONE?!" She cursed God and country and the world, for none of them could comprehend that her heart had been shredded, left for her to fumble for. Her son. Her son.

Her beautiful son. Where was he? He should be in her arms. Sakura should be snapping photographs, his secret names whispered in the shell of his rosy ear, that red face puckered in tears, his cries like music.
Naruto should be looking on in that wonderment she knew he would have, if only.

So consumed was she, that she did not notice the kiss of warm air, the tug of flagging clothing, the slink of trailing robes as a figure emerged from the inky black, dotted by scattering fireflies that had appeared, seemingly conjuring her from the air.

Hinata did not see the pale face, a snowdrift against the darkness, or the illuminated glow of her skin as she descended to Hinata's bereft frame. She did not know until thin arms captured her, holding her close, a hand fisting into her hair.

Hinata felt a gasp leave her lips as she peered over a silk-clad shoulder, a hair ornament dusted with silver cutlets and trinkets brushing her cheek. Midnight blue hair caressed her cheek and lavender enveloped her just as the arms had.

"Shhh…" Tears escaped Hinata's eyes as the ethereal glow consumed her. Her hands hung loosely in the air, distended in their surprise; her arms stiffly held under the one holding her so dearly, "Shhh…I'm here."

"You have done nothing. Nothing at all." It whispered.

Hinata felt overwhelming shock and fear and immense pain wash over her again, furthering the wound in her heart. She knew that voice, the cashmere kiss of sound against her ears, the cool breeze emitted from moonlight-pale lips. The scent of Lavender and Jasmine, the hair, the delicate hands crushing her skull against the frail shoulder.

"I'm here." The voice said once more, and a cheek laid itself against her head, the one holding her kneeling on the ground, bent over to support Hinata's trembling body. Hinata shook her head violently, tears clouding her every sense.

"NO! NO!" She cried, struggling. "No, get away! GET AWAY FROM ME!" Her screams were swallowed by the body before her, the person who had her captured. She had to get out.

"I have to go! I have to go!" The person's arms tightened.

"Go where, Hinata?" It chimed and Hinata beat at the back, but still had no escape.

"I have to go to Naruto! TO NARUTO! HE NEEDS ME!" She screamed, still thrashing, her eyes streaming her whole body convulsing. No. This time she would fight; they wouldn't be taken from her so easily.
"NARUTO!" She screamed, "NARUTO! NARUTO, PLEASE!" The desperation in her voice caught the figure off guard as the arms that surrounded her trembled.

"He can't hear you Hinata." It said quietly, "He can't hear you anymore." It's voice was painted with regret as it talked. Hinata shook her head.

"No. NO! NARUTO!" Her voice drowned her, her tears taking everything and putting them out in streams of emotion, "He promised! HE PROMISED ME FOREVER!"

"YOU CAN'T GO BACK!" The voice shouted suddenly, yanking her backwards so that Hinata now stared into the face before her.

Haruhi's features contorted in agony at her daughter's distress as she shook her.

"You can never go back." She whispered as Hinata's face transformed into a pitiful mess of tears and quivers that spazmed across her cheeks and lips.

"Mother." Hinata whimpered, disbelieving eyes glued straight ahead. Wind rippled through a tree, touched the grass and danced across a small pond nearby, toying with Hinata's hair. Fireflies scattered and swam before her, hovering in front of her bedazzled eyes.

The finger's tightened.

"Mother!" Hinata cried. She could not believe it. And then suddenly, it was her mother all around her. Her mother, flesh and bone was touching her, holding her, attempting to be as close as life would allow. Hinata couldn't stop her hands as they moved by their own wills, clawing up her mother's back and cementing themselves in the folds of her robes.

"I'm so sorry." Her mother whimpered into her ear as Hinata's face dissolved into tears, crinkling like a child's and burying itself into her mother's shoulder. "I'm sorry that it must be like this."

"Mother!" Hinata cried again, this time her voice cracking with emotion as she let out another loose sob, holding herself as close as she could. Her Mother held her soundly, letting her eradicate all the tears from her eyes and the tremors from her soul and the cries of agony from her heart.

Her mother held her, safely, cradling her like a little girl.

"Why did you go?" Hinata whispered, "Why did you have to go? Didn't you know I needed you? I needed you with me? Hanabi and I…and Father...WHY DO THEY ALWAYS LEAVE ME?!" Hinata's mother had haunted her heart all her life, but now, before her, Hinata wasn't able to pacify the angry ghosts. The hurt and the betrayal from her Mother's death surfaced like turbulent waves. The traumatizing event of the one who bore you being taken, the confusion and the doubt that possibly it had been something she had caused. That perhaps, if she had only been a better daughter, her beautiful mother, her beautiful, cold mother would not have left her. Abandoned her. Haruhi awaited for the sobbing to cease before she released her hold.

"It is life." Her mother said softly, and then, she withdrew from Hinata, the emptiness of her arms like lead. Hinata looked up into her mother's face, and found it so similar, if not identical, to her own that it was as if she were looking in a mirror. Her hair was set by silver pins adorned with lotus and silver bells and butterflies tinkling around her head. Her clothes were shimmering in the moonlight that dusted the small lawn and the hands that took Hinata's face in their palms were not as cold as Hinata could have remembered, but all over Hinata it was numb. She was cold, and dead. The breathing that came into her was shallow and hollow, there was no heartbeat. Only a drum.

"Everything has a beginning, and everything has an ending, some sooner than others." Haruhi continued, wiping away Hinata's tears with the pads of her thumbs. Hinata stared at the woman she had not realized was one of the key elements missing in her life, the gaping hole in her heart that had been numbed by years of patient ignoring.

"Then it was you." Hinata concluded, staring into the pearly whites of her mother's eyes, "It was you all along…Naruto and Kiyoshi…it was you." Her mother's eyes hooded themselves and she nodded, accepting the accusation and the tears that once again resurfaced, dangling precariously close to spilling over.

"It was my final gift to you, my final granting wish that you would see what you'd dreamt of for so long. That you might have lived in happiness, if only for a moment...But I cannot change the course of destiny, and what must be must always be." Hinata closed her eyes, tears leaking out.

"But I will never see them again." She whispered, hands covering her face as her mother's fell away, "I will never see them again…"

Haruhi looked at her daughter and suffered as she did. She knew what it was like, to be taken from things you loved. She had loved Hiashi, and she had loved her daughters, it was only that she had been too proud to show it, among many other things that prevented her true affections. But she would never have wished it upon herself to die the way she did, of illness and a broken heart.

She would not see her daughter suffer so similarly; so when Hinata on the brink of death, she sacrificed the last wish she had to God, the one of a mother who could not be with her children. The gift of life to her Daughter, of life and happiness, and everything Haruhi could never give her.

"It isn't so." Haruhi soothed gently, standing, her robes falling about in a cascade of fabric. Hinata raised her head and saw her mother's face was turned towards the earth.

"Life does not end so abruptly, even when destiny does not compromise itself. Time however, does not stop, not even for the dead." She curled her fingers into a fist and a beautiful camellia surfaced from her palm when she reopened them. Hinata watched in fascination as her mother let the wind carry the camellia to the ground.

"But life is a beautiful thing," She said so softly it was barely a murmur, studying the camellia as it floated downwards, settling on the ground, "Where one thing falls… another grows…maybe not what was there before, but something new and wonderful all the same." The camellia sank into the earth and twisted, forming a huge iris, moon-white with milky purple on its ruffled petals. Hinata stared at the iris and her mother folded her hands calmly into her sleeves.

"Where I fell, you will blossom into something even I could not imagine." Hinata felt as though a great weight had lifted, as though the validation she'd waited for, even the one Naruto couldn't give her with all the love in the world, had finally entered her heart.

"I won't remember them, will I?" Hinata whispered, still gazing at the flower. Her mother smiled sadly to herself.

"A glimpse is nothing more than a fleeting glance; a flash of light and nothing more. So no, you will not recall the years here because you did not truly see them." Hinata nodded quietly, eyes closing.

"You have gifts to give, beautiful gifts that only you may use, do not waste them Hinata. Do not doubt yourself any longer…"

"But what of Father?" Hinata said suddenly, her empty voice hanging in the air between the two of them. Haruhi sighed heavily and her face took on a great sadness.

"Your Father is a good man. You may not see it now, but he has great compassion for his people, for his village, and most importantly…" She gently tucked a stray sliver of hair from Hinata's face away, "…for his Daughters. He wants all for you in this world; he wishes you to be safe." Hinata pushed her mother's hand away.

"Then why is he the way he is? Why does he think…think that ruining my life is the way to do that? Why must everything possess such ultimatum?" Hinata pressed. Haruhi looked distant and then severe, eyes peering out from beneath her indigo lashes.

"Your Father's vice is guilt. He believes that he was the cause of my death, which is completely false. I couldn't have died in a more natural, unoffending way." Her mother tossed her head in a way that was so patently Hanabi it might have made her laugh.

"How could Father possibly have caused your death?" Hinata instead said evenly, to which her mother looked wistfully at the pool of water nearby.

"He wanted to shelter me from everything when he assumed his position, and because I loved him I did as he said, but not without bitterness for the life I had before. I traveled and I saw, and then I was confined…to an extent no better than a sealed child." Hinata felt the cold rush of her mother's words. Her Mother may have saved her, but she was still tucked away in old times, old fashioned ways set stone deep into her mind. "Your Father believed that, because he loved me so, he broke me. So now, he distances himself from you, he tries to push you away under the pretext of trapping you when truly it's his love that is the only thing that's ever compelled him." She continued.

"Father." Hinata sighed, rubbing her sore eyes. She felt as though she'd cried a thousand tears, and she was nothing but desert now, dry and vacant. "Why must it always be so complicated with him." She muttered and Haruhi smiled.

"Your Father's nature is only his nature, but if you are careful, he can be as transparent as glass." Haruhi chuckled, "It's one of the reasons I suppose I loved him. Under that rock is a heart that is warmer than anything I've encountered, so you must give both of you the chance to grow, because it seems, that my family has forgotten how to be alive." Haruhi continued, looking off towards the pool, watching as dusky light gathered on the horizon, "After all…time will not wait for you."

Hinata lifted her head and stared at the light enveloping the darkness, and felt a surge of panic. Dawn was coming, and with dawn came the new days, and with new days came new fears.

"What about my son?!" She cried suddenly looking towards her mother. Haruhi smiled knowingly.

All of a sudden a sound broke over her shoulder as the sun approached. Wind whipped Hinata's hair as she peered around her mother who had already turned.

A child broke from a clearing of trees, young and vibrant; his hair glistening like cut onyx in the morning light. He glowed and stumbled along, but ran forward, always forward.

"Kiyoshi…" Hinata gasped watching as he ran about, and in her desperation she leapt from the ground, running towards him, crying his name over and over.

But her son did not see them. He chased a flying bird, his kimono rustling with each step, and as he ran, he grew, from little toddling boy to child, to an awkward fledgling to a young figure with arms spread wide, and then a tall and beautiful man who slowed and stared at the bird he now had captured in his hands before releasing it again into the air. His laughter hit her ears like music and his face split into a foxy grin that could be none other than Naruto's. He called and chased and laughed and Hinata felt the tears come again in a silent flood this time.

"Kiyoshi…" She grabbed her heart through her chest, the thrum strong and warm beneath her fingertips.

He had been with her all along.

There was more to life than her, there was more to the world than earth and wood and steel.
There was peace, and there was wonder, and there were so many things she had been missing on.

Something passed then, a throb of energy that released itself, dissipating across the grass that still shuddered with the change in the air. The world no longer held her breath. Hinata opened her eyes, staring up at her Mother.

"Where will you be?" Hinata said as light disintegrated the fireflies and the image began to fade. Haruhi touched her daughter's cheek.

"Where I have always been…" She whispered. Hinata grabbed her hand, holding with all her might, "watching, patiently, for the days to come."

The image only flickered and smiled. Silver trails stood out against the soft cheeks, but perhaps it had only been a trick of the fast approaching light, for soon everything went white, and Hinata fell into the beams, covered in warmth.

"My final gift…is for your happiness…" The words rang in her heart as Hinata ascended, no longer falling but flying, upwards, towards the sunlight burning through her tears. Her heart, so empty became whole again.

She felt warmth again, after a thousand years. Peace.

And in her chest, her heart hummed to life, sewed and stitched, and Hinata, was born again for the third time.

And somewhere, a child laughed, but not so hauntingly, but brightly, like a new-born star.

Being born again was a funny thing, and it was something we never got used to. She awoke in a hospital room, bathed in white and blinking rapidly as her heart beeped in perfect time beside her, flashing across a black screen. It was concrete evidence that she was alive, breathing, moving, thinking, touching, loving, being. Her entire head felt like feathers, her body light and airy, but heavy with sleep. She blinked blearily and rolled her bandaged head, only vaguely aware that she was in the hospital room, and that her arm was tightly bandaged to her side and aching rather badly.

"Oh My God!" Hinata winced as the voice hit her ears, shaking her head and staring in horrible double vision at a petite medic who had dropped her clipboard at the sight of a conscious Hinata, and stared at her.

"W-what happened?" Hinata questioned, her mouth dry from nonuse and her tongue clumsy she raised her good hand to rub the sleep from her eyes and the medic continued to gape.

"T-TSUNADE-SAMA!" She screamed suddenly, to which the voluptuous blonde in question came rushing in, grabbing the medic's shoulder and shaking her harshly.

"I told you only to yell if she woke up!" She shouted and Hinata winced again, not used to such noise. The medic only trembled, eyes still glued to Hinata, and raised a shaking hand.

"L-look!" She cried, and Tsunade followed the finger begrudgingly before meeting Hinata's pale and sleepy eyes. The light brown pools widened in disbelief.

"I-impossible!" Tsunade said, shoving the medic, but forgetting her strength, causing her to go through the open door. The blonde came right up to Hinata, looking just as shocked as the poor bandaged girl on the bed.

"H-Hinata?" Tsunade questioned. Hinata looked up at the Hokage and swallowed.

"Hokage-sama, do you mind telling me what exactly is going on?" Tsunade just shook her head.

"What's going on? You shouldn't…there is no way…" Hinata's brow furrowed in confusion as Tsunade attempted to explain.

"You've been comatose for close to three weeks! There was almost no chance of you ever waking up…and after the blood loss and the trauma, we thought there was no way…not to mention the foreign chakra…" Hinata shook her head slowly, Tsunade going too fast for her. The Hokage just heaved an enormous sigh and put a ginger hand on her patient's shoulder.

"Well…let's just start at the beginning, shall we?" Hinata nodded, her heart still beating steadily.

"The beginning is a wonderful place to start."

Tsunade wove a dramatic tale, full of huge proportions and strange things that made Hinata's mind boggle itself, and when all was said and done she leaned against the pillows beneath her and closed her eyes.

"How do you feel?" The woman questioned, still positioned nearby. Hinata's eyes opened slowly, sun pouring out of the window by the bed and leaking his golden fingers onto the sheets. She took in the warmth and stared at the glass, watching trees shimmer in the light outside, an unknown appreciation settling over her.

"As though I've lost something precious to me." She said clearly, before looking down at her bandaged arm, held taught against her body. She flexed the fingers she saw as if they were only an illusion.

"As though…I've missed out on some important idea. And, also, I feel like I've had a very long and confusing dream." Hinata's mind fought to conjure up some kind of thread as to what had gone one in her brain for so long, but drew a blank.

All that was there was the feeling.

"Near death experiences will do that." Tsunade sighed, scratching on the clipboard she held before smiling warmly at her still immobile patient. It would take time for Hinata to gain her sea-legs again, but when it happened, Tsunade could sense that things were changing.

Hinata nodded and then looked at her Hokage with a slight grin.

"Thank you for taking such good care of me." She said sleepily, the IV drip beginning to set into her still aching bones. Tsunade smiled back, opening the door and edging out of it.

"Only doing my job." She chuckled, closing the door softly behind her.

"How is she?" Tsunade started as she came face to face with a very blonde, very concerned looking boy. She clucked her tongue and rapped him on the head with her clipboard.

"Sleeping." Naruto scowled and pushed the clipboard aside, making Tsunade laugh.

"I'm serious! Is she alright?" He pressed, hands tensing in the pockets of his shorts. Tsunade shook her head.

"Baka." She said with a silly grin, "She's no worse for wear…she'll be discharged in a few days." Naruto looked satisfied and nodded, but soon his face took a grim shadow.

"What?" Tsunade asked, tilting her head and putting the clipboard under her arm. Naruto looked at the tiled floor of the hospital hallway and shrugged.

"What if she…what if she hates me. For what happened." He said simply, blue eyes narrowed in thought. Tsuande just rolled her eyes.

"You really are an idiot. How long will it take I wonder, before you finally get what's been going on right in front of you? The first person she asked about was you, stupid." Tsunade exclaimed with a toss of her head. Naruto's brow furrowed and he looked up at the woman suspiciously.

"What do you mean by all that, old woman?" He demanded following quickly as she started to walk away, heels clacking on the tile.

"Exactly what I say!" Tsunade declared, leaving Naruto looking as dumbfounded as before. He watched the woman's back as she advanced down the hall, but turned to the door that was shut against his visitation, thinking about the girl lying inside. He hesitated for a moment, shook his head and started after the Hokage, shouting about wrinkles.

Hinata was discharged three days later, looking pale and thin, but happy. She was escorted, naturally, by her teammates who looked so worried she almost laughed.

"You really feeling ok? I mean, you can always stay with Kurenai-sensei. You don't have to go over to your Father's just cuz' he says to." Kiba said as they approached the compound's formidable entrance, Neji waiting expectantly outside, pretending to be uninterested. Hinata sighed and smiled at her long time friend.

"He insists. It's better than not caring, ne?" She said softly as she walked towards her cousin. Kiba just shook his head.

"Is it just me, or is Hinata acting weird?"
Shino coughed slightly and Kiba rolled his eyes in irritation.

"I mean weirder than usual. Do you think she's really ok to go home? What do we do now?" Shino just turned and walked away, leaving Kiba scrambling behind him.

"For now, we shall be supportive. Hinata has endured a lot and as her teammates we are obligated to respect that and allow her time to adjust." Shino said tersly as they walked. Kiba just flopped his head backwards against his hood.

"God Shino, I was just implying we buy her a card or something. Jeez."

Her Father was not waiting for her, but she accepted it with grace. She walked passed his room and did not pause for very long.

She felt as though she had not been in her bedroom for years, and when her body sank into the sheets of her futon, she almost cried with joy. The familiarity of her comforts; her trunk of kimonos, her pillows, her blankets.

Her embroidery sat untouched on the mat right inside her covered patio, and a cat slept soundly on the wood, his shadow filtering through the screens and gauzy curtains that encased her. She buried her head and fished around underneath her.

"Momo" She whispered affectionately, the heady scent of childhood permeating her skin as she cuddled the small stuffed cat close to her, nuzzling her nose into its ragged head.

She'd missed the quietness of her room; the creak of the house as it shifted on its wooden legs, the whisper of trees and quiet stirrings of birds in her tiny yard.

A sparrow flapped her wings in a bowl of water near the edge of her deck and Hinata slid her feet to the ground, watching it cautiously, half off of her raised bed, the other still lying in the linens.

"Neji-nii has been keeping you, I see…" She murmured, watching the brown bird startle and flit off into the trees, nesting in the forks of low branches in the lawns beyond her own. She brushed the hair from her forehead and rested her head on her hands before the fingers slid down to her neck, massaging the muscles there.

"Are you well?" Hinata raised her head as the voice shook her from her thoughts, turning slightly over her shoulder to see Hanabi standing stiffly by her door, having evidently slid it open with her foot.

"Hanabi." Hinata said cheerfully, smiling at her sister and standing up, making Hanabi back just a fraction out of the room.

"Hanabi, later, would you like to go into town with me? Maybe not today…I feel too tired, but maybe later. I feel like planting a garden." Hanabi wrinkled her little face, the pretty features constricting.

"A garden? Really? Is that proper?" Hinata shrugged and smiled quite happily.

"Probably not, but then again, we have to keep up our reputations as horrible good-for-nothing daughters." Hanabi's mouth twitched at this statement and Hinata felt a foreign satisfaction hit her like a wave. It was like the feeling that compelled her to reach out to her sister in any way as soon as she had seen her standing there. The need to be near her, as though their very lives depended on it.

Hanabi smiled a little, an awkward, odd smile that not truly found place on her delicate cheeks, but instead strung itself tightly and unsurely across her chin.

"Well…perhaps later. After I train…" Hanabi replied, looking rather embarrassed and uncertain. Hinata nodded her head once.

"That would be nice. You could help me decide on what to plant…I noticed your roses are looking very well." Hanabi flushed.

"You know about them?" Hinata laughed and put Momo down on the bed, walking towards her sister.

"Maybe one day, I'll teach you how to cook, but only if you help me garden!" She exclaimed. Hanabi backed up and looked at the being in front of her, completely unconvinced that it was really her sister.

"Are you sure you're alright sister? You're acting…oddly." Hanabi muttered as she made room for Hinata to get into the passage. Hinata stared at Hanabi for the longest time, as though it took a century to think of the proper words.

"I don't know how I feel. It's all very new." She said turning towards the yard where the sparrow and several others had returned, "It's like a new page has turned." She rambled before closing her eyes briefly and turning down the hall.

Hanabi watched in silent contemplation as her sister disappeared before looking around cautiously.

Without a sound she reached under her robe and drew out a bag of crumbled bread, and slipped silently into her sister's room.

It was nice, she thought.

She had hated the emptiness of that room while her sister was gone, but it seemed as though something hung in the air now; a piece of something had been exhaled and the world no longer held her breath, but sang with it.

Hinata didn't know how many times she wandered through the house after the day she returned. Every time she left her room she was somewhere else, taking it all in, basking in it.

She noticed things.

But most importantly, she became aware of her Father.

The morning she crept after him was not on accident, but quite by choice. She'd been patiently waiting for today after several weeks of recuperation. She'd watched carefully his small routines, and today was a bright and sunny Friday morning and she knew where her Father would be.

The shrine was far out in a secluded section of the garden, and Hinata trailed far behind her Father, but he didn't even seem to notice the people he passed, too consumed with his many thoughts. His step was slow and pensive, but also hesitant, and Hinata, for a reason she could not quite comprehend, slightly understood.

So when he knelt to the ground, Hinata waited for a very long time before she approached the grave, holding the incense she and Hanabi had bought among other little things Hanabi had found impeccably interesting on their last outing. Hinata still had not bought flowers, and everywhere she went she only thought of how wonderful it would be to plant irises there.

But now Hinata knelt far enough away from her Father's honed senses that he did not notice, his hands folded, head bowed, eyes closed. She sank to the ground and leaned forward placing the incense in the small bowl near the base of the stone marker, lighting it with a match and sat back.

The silence was deep as they sat beside each other, and Hinata felt neither comfort nor discomfort, but only silky indifference as she knelt there, her hands folded together, her heart humming with prayers she had meant to say a million times, only now they did not catch on her tongue but spilled out like tears.

"Hinata." Hiashi said suddenly, and Hinata opened her eyes, watching the incense burn slowly. Hiashi's eyes remained firmly closed.

"How did you know it was me?" She asked quietly, and Hiashi let out a small scoff.

"You? I'd know you if I was blind." She looked down at the floor in the small shrine, smoke wafting among the low rafters.

"Would you?" She murmured suddenly, and her Father seemed to soften beside her.

"Yes. I would know." He answered softly, "You walk like your Mother." He raised his head finally, and his eyes opened, trained on the shrine; so many names before him. So many that he missed and loved, so many that were gone.

"Do you miss her?" Hinata said, and Hiashi sighed.

"She is like air. I cannot go long without her, yet I could never hold her for long." He turned to his daughter slowly.

"Why did you follow me? Don't you have anything better to be doing? Training perhaps?" Hinata stared at her Mother's shrine and smiled knowingly.

"I don't know." Hiashi blinked slowly and turned his head back towards his wife's grave silently.

"Your Mother…she would be very proud of you." He muttered, eyes closing in prayer. Hinata smiled to herself, secretly.

"Hai." She whispered, and everything settled, the air still, but not so foreboding as it hung between them.

"She was a horrible Hyuuga though. She never did anything properly. She carved her own ways." Hiashi said and Hinata smiled to herself.

"To favor such a woman." She responded and Hiashi smiled, though there was no one to see but himself.

"Such a woman to become." Hinata stared at the shrine before her.

"I don't have to become like my mother." She blinked in the sunlight bouncing off the glossy blackness of her mother's name. "Not if it isn't what I desire."

Hiashi felt a heavy breath cave in his lungs as he felt the sense of longing in his daughter's voice.

"Then…what is it that is so important to you that you must carve your own ways? What is so important that you must be weak and senseless and difficult?" He whispered. "What is so important that you must go against everything you are told and fall at every expectation?"

Such similar situations; life revolved, Hiashi figured. It came full circle, tilting this way and that, but full circle.

"You can't keep me locked up in here." Her eyes had been wide with fire and sharp with her silly, petty, beautiful anger. His hands, a bit younger, a bit softer, had clutched at her face, her clothes.

"Please, I want you to be safe." Images locked away for so long surfaced in the blotched sunlight wafting through the trees. He had tried so valiantly to keep her from the world, shelter her. If he could have her to himself, keep her away from their prying eyes and dagger tongues. If he could bear the burden he could live with himself…

And yet.

"Hiashi…Hiashi…" her dying breathes as he held her hand in silence, tears coursing from his eyes. Peering faces around the corner, entertained by a round nurse with long silver hair burned through his skin. Haruhi. His only wonder, his only reason to smile to laugh, had died and so the rest of his heart had died along with her. He'd known long ago whatever affection he had left for people had been buried with her.

He'd buried her alive. Under brick and mortar and pounds of love he'd suffocated the bird, crushed the flower.

So he distanced himself from the ones after words.

He'd only maniupulate them to keep them safer, and safety came in his temper and his bitterness, and his longing.

And mostly, Hiashi's loneliness became the best of him, and he was what he always knew he would become.

Cold. His hands were numb, his heart thumped, but it was hollowed and smoothed free of emotion, sanded and grinded to a glorious sheen of glossy veneered wood.

But there was more to it, contemplated the subtle Lord. Beside him it stirred.

Hinata was tilting her head to her Father's question, but the answer did not have to be found for it was sitting soundly in front of her, speaking through the stone and grass. It spoke through the sky and the earth and the birds. It was in Kiba. In Shino. It was in Ino and Sakura and somewhere, far beyond the reaches of Hinata's mind, the Uchiha Prince, and Neji and Lee.

It was with Naruto. It was with Kurenai. It was in Hanabi and water and sun and stars, and the wandering, vast moon.

Hinata's face melted into a contemplative smile as she thought.
It was not with her Father, nor the council, nor the other souls that came to her mind, because time did not wait for them, as it is want to do.

"The potential." She said softly, "To be. To live to love and to be more than a Hyuuga or a shinobi." She looked at her Father and stared at him, his eyes closed and face lax.

"All I want in my life is to finally, finally be Hinata and all it brings. And that's why, I suppose. Why I must be contrary and odd to you."

"Such aspirations. The world is not so open nor is it so forgiving to allow such petty dreams." Hiashi said thickly, beginning to stand. Hinata nodded to herself.

"I know. I've lived it." Hiashi stopped his exit of the shrine and turned back at the girl who lit another stick of incense and bowed her head.

"You have too, haven't you Father?" She whispered, and it was almost as a prayer, floating upwards to the heavens and into Hiashi's head. A white-winged dove shooting against a dazzling sapphire sky, littered with clouds.

Yes. He supposed silently, although Hyuuga don't typically suppose, but contemplate fact.

He had lived it. He had...once, harbored the same dreams. A young man in gold and that sour-faced friend of theirs. A trio that was said to be as powerful as it was dysfunctional.

Hiashi felt his heart spasm.

What would he say now?

What would Yamato say, he supposed if he saw what had become of him?

"He would say...I look old." Hiashi said very quietly, so quietly no one heard him.

There was belonging between them, some foreign wisdom had seeded itself into her. Somewhere, Hiashi knew it was not death's doing, but perhaps a soul should flight upon her kin and resurrect what had been lost for so long.

Hiashi was tired of winter. He was finally through with snow and ice and plagues of gray.

And the sun shone through so clearly; towards the light, a sunflower bobbing her black head in time to whatever she pleased, much like the ones before her, the one before her. Summer was coming; Hiashi could feel it in his bones.

To himself, he smiled, though none would have guessed.

'There will be nothing we can do' he mused silently, 'For a Hyuuga cannot change the weather, though we have tried so many times I've lost count.'

There was an emptiness left behind at Hiashi's departure, but there also, growing soundly, was peace.

Live everyday as if it were your last. Hinata thought to herself.

Such wise, wise words, though someone else had told her something much more important. Time does not wait, and somewhere in the haze of living, there are gifts that we must give and there are people we must love, and though they leave us moonstruck and confused, they are our own.

And we are but humans, and we are but glimpses, but the sun will always rise again, and in her absence the moon hangs to fill the spaces between.

Where there is shade there is surely light, where silence, surely there is music.
And, so we walk, through day and night and sun and moon and rain.

Always walking, always moving towards forever.

And what will be, will always, most always be, but we may only become if we desire.
Hinata desired it with all of her heart.

And somewhere, a quiet voice became suddenly, beautifully, heard.


Hinata was not paying much attention as Hanabi walked beside her, carrying the huge trays of irises, gleaming purple and still damp from Ino's shop. They did not speak very much but stayed in quiet company, conversations pulling at their tongues from time to time, but mostly they remained content in the lack of words. The flowers had been an impulse.

Hinata had woken up one morning and insisted, like for the very life of her, the world would end if she didn't.

Perhaps it was the sun glinting playfully on her eyes, or Hanabi's mild words as she spotted a new type of clothing she'd never seen before, or recorded yet another 'pesky mouse' darting sleepily into the cracks of a building in the afternoon heat, or maybe she was just reffering to Konohamaru haggling some poor shop lady, but still looking particularly interesting to a pair of very serious Hyuuga eyes.

Whatever the reason, Hinata was not watching the road carefully and was much too consumed by her own mind to have really notice anything inparticular that day. She'd been feeling very odd as of late; as though even if things were becoming somewhat tranquil within her own family some key element was missing, some glaring object that had offensively been protruding into her brain making her nervous and distracted.

So when something came barreling down the street, not paying much mind to girls and flowers, Hinata could not have been less prepared.

Her irises, so beautiful and new, went toppling out of her hands and crashing to the ground; a good month's salary had been spent on the exotic plants that Ino had specially ordered. Since Hinata had realized that she and Hanabi were not as talented as they had originally thought and after more than one heartbreaking failure had decided that perhaps starting with something already alive might be a better course of action. The need to buy them that morning had only cemented the deal.

In the fray they hit the ground with a sickening twist of plastic and explosion of soil. Hinata herself was knocked backwards, falling hard to the road, her ninja instincts not having been enough to keep her on her toes or even keep her from not catching herself. She looked dizzily up, and was met by the cerulean blue of the sky before shaking her head and looking beside her.

Crumpled iris bodies lay disheveled and defeated on the road, and Hinata put a hand to her lips.

"My flowers!" She wailed, touching a stalk to have the petals fall off in a very depressing manner.

"Holy- I mean crap! I am so sorry, here let me help!" She was only vaguely aware of the voice next to her as it spoke hurriedly and caked itself in high amounts of shame. There was a scramble of feet as someone collected themselves and approached her.

"Here, let me help you up…" The voice grumbled roughly and Hinata looked up with her eyes swimming with pitiful tears, "I wasn't watching…I'm so sorry! God, really!"

"T-thank you." She murmured, taking the tan hand that was being offered, finally looking up at the accusers face as she wiped her own cheeks hastily.

The hand that held hers constricted instantly as Hinata stared up at Naruto, her eyes wide as dinner plates.

"Sorry about…your…" Naruto started, before trailing off, his face taking on a completely dumbfounded appearance. Hinata moved her mouth silently before the words came out correctly.

It was insane. She was going crazy. The Déjà vu was intense, so intense it was almost real. Hinata felt the familiarity flow over her so strongly she couldn't speak. His hand in hers, only perhaps, it had been another time, and she had been helping him off the ground; and Hanabi's unhappy babbling had been something else. A yapping dog maybe?

But the irises were there; their continuity was startling as Hinata blinked rapidly at the boy hovering over her, the words flooding her tongue as though they belonged there.

"…Flowers. You ruined my flowers." She said breathlessly, still gaping at him. He didn't let go of her hand as he pulled her all the way up, still staring deeply into her eyes, the same emotions of his face playing a mirror to whatever was going on in her own head.

"Yeah. I did, didn't I?" He added quietly and Hinata felt her head bob itself without her brain's permission, the movement completely automatic. Everything hazed out, and focused on the two of them, and nothing more. A thousand nights in one second, three hundred and sixty degrees of absolutely everything was all Hinata could see at the point as the words tumbled off her lips, beyond her control.

"You ask me for ramen." She said finally and Naruto blinked at her, his brows rising.

"Yeah I do, don't I?" He whispered roughly and Hinata felt something click into place; the extra piece she had been missing tucked itself into the space it belonged.

Her mouth pulled into a smile, a disbelieving, unsure one as she held the boy's hand, staring into the eyes she had seen a hundred times and a hundred times again but looked so different. Older…an old, old friend she'd missed for a very long time.
The friend you didn't remember until you met them and then, you remembered how much you loved them, but even then it was so dear Hinata felt nothing but tingling warmth from her head to her toes.

She felt, incredible, indescribable happiness, just at seeing him.

And by the way he was staring at her, it was if he was just as shocked; perhaps when he saw her eyes he saw the same thing.

An old, dear friend.

"And I say…and I say yes." She stated, and it was automatic. She didn't even have to wait to say it; it just happened, like time was already pulling her along.

Naruto's own face hesitated before breaking completely apart.

"Yeah," He breathed, smiling stupidly at her, "that's exactly how it goes."

She smiled at him and tightened her hand in his, and for a very split second Naruto was replaced, but not with someone else, but sometime else.

"…Forever." He said, still grinning, the promise hanging securely between them, connected, whole. Hinata beamed.

"Forever is an awfully long time."

Because there are some promises that are never broken, and some destinies that always happen, because what will be will always, most certainly, be.

And forever is, in fact, an awfully long time.

The End

As I write this, I'm crying. Not because I'm unhappy, but because I feel so fufilled. This long (and strenuous on my part) journey is finally over. It's complete.

I have poured my heart into this little fic and the ending still makes me get pins and needles.

That final, tantalizing moment when everything fits and you realize that they are so meant to be, time doesn't wait for them, but they only had to wait for time.

I hope its as happy for you as it was for me, because I really REALLY wanted to make you an ending where you could have your cake, and then decide how to eat it. What happens is up to you, you're imaginations are free to make anything, but they're together.

In the most wonderful way.

Thankyou. From the bottom of my heart.

If you're interested in a playlist for this fic (dorky I know, but if twilight has one, so can I), just PM me!


A sequal will probably be out sometime later this year, so please keep an eye out for it!