Her heart hammered in her chest. Sweat hang in beads, dripping down her indigo bangs. Her eyes were shut tight, hiding their unique colour from the world.
Breathing in deeply, she exhaled through shuddering breathes. Her teeth were clenched tightly, causing her jaw to ache.
Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock.
She quickly stole a glance at the antique grandfather clock. Its solitary looming figure was ticking away in the corner of the small waiting room.
Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock… Creak.
A sharp intake of breath caught in her throat when the examiner entered the room. Being the first candidate of the day, she was overwhelmed with nausea.
"Candidate H1289, please proceed to the Examination studio." A low voice rang out from the doorway.
She gulped. Opening her clear, lavender tinted eyes, she stood up straight. As quick as lightning, her small, shaking demeanor turned into confident; a determined expression crossed her face.
She headed out the door, and slipped into the studio, gagging slightly from the smoky room. Waving her hand in front of her face, she frowned. Wasn't smoking prohibited in here?
Steering her thoughts away, she saw an impressive Grande Piano standing in the centre of the studio.
With its large cathedral-like, dome ceiling, pastel walls, and wide windows allowing the sunlight to stream in, the room immediately calmed the nervous girl.
Until the examiner spoke.
He was an old man surrounded by the smell of tobacco. Aha! Here was the culprit.
"Please have a seat, Candidate H1289, or rather, Hyuuga Hinata." He demanded in a gravely voice tainted with an extremely strong French accent. "I am your examiner, Mr. Lareaux."
She winced and slowly sat down on the black leather seat, and adjusted the height.
"You may start to play your prepared pieces." Mr. Lareaux commanded stiffly.
Hinata nodded her head and placed her pale fingers on the piano. Feeling the soft, smooth ivory and ebony keys , she smiled gently.
She pressed down on the beginning chord, and soon, many other notes joined in. She weaved a melody of notes, constantly changing the tempo, strength and articulation.
Forte, piano, allegretto, andante, staccato, legato.
The notes flowed into each other, singing out in perfect harmony. The music slowed down gradually, and the last notes trilled to an end.
Hinata took a deep breath and opened her eyes which were closed the whole time she played. She risked a glance at the examiner, and was shocked to find him smiling.
"You play with not only great articulation, but also poured your feelings into it, and that makes the music come alive!" he cried out, eyes sparkling.
Hinata smiled gladly.
"I am so happy I did well, it was a rather hard piece and I thought I would fail...however, there is something different..."
"Tell me! How did you do that extra something?" Mr Lareaux inquired.
"He seemed to have sensed it too."
"Make the notes so mellow and smooth sounding! How did you dampen the sound to make it have such an interesting texture?" he elaborated, "It takes great skill to manipulate the pedals like that."
"That was it! The notes were richer and smoother, like something was dampening them. Did I really do something more to make it so?"
Hinata did not know what to say, so instead she smiled politely.
"Play the next piece, please." the examiner said with slightly more enthusiasm.
She nodded and proceeded to play. This song, however, was meant to be crisp and sharp. The tempo was extremely fast, and each note played individually in staccato.
Before she began, she decided to open up the top of the piano for a clearer sound quality. So, hefting up the heavy lid, she found it to be stuck.
She looked at the lid quizzically, and abruptly stood up from her seat.
"Excuse me, I would just like to lift the lid up." She informed the examiner.
Hinata walked around the piano, following its outline, trying to find the cause of the lids stuck state. Something was sticking out, stuck between the lid and the piano.
She looked closer, and realized that it was the corner of some shimmery purple fabric. She pushed it in, and was able to lift up the top.
However, instead of smiling triumphantly, her face was drained of its color.
The examiner looked up and saw the candidate standing as still as a marble statue, staring down into the grand piano in horror.
"Th-th-there i-i-is..." she began; her long gone stutter returning.
"What is it?" he questioned, rather annoyed that she was wasting his time. He was then extremely perplexed when she fainted.
He sighed and rubbed his temples, standing up and walking towards the fallen candidate.
Realizing that she had fallen unconscious, he sighed again and rang the authorities, organizers and her parents.
"...yes, she fainted...correct...come immediately..."
The head organizer strode in looking thoroughly annoyed, followed by a few nurses from the hospital.
Her father then breezed in calmly, if that was possible, and announced:
"It was alright. She tends to frequently faint. Must be from the pressure." He explained, "Although that has never happened in a piano examination or a concert…"
Their attention all snapped back to the fallen girl when they heard her groan.
""Urgh..." Hinata sat up groggily, with the help of the nurses, and tried to regain her ability to speak.
"There is a..." she began, but changed her mind.
"I found a..." she tried again, but stopped abruptly.
Tears started pouring out of her eyes as she broke out of her shocked state.
"I know the reason why the notes were so mellow!" she explained to the examiner in between distraught sobs.
"Just look inside the piano..."
Hiashi was the only person to stride towards the piano. Lifting the lid, he gasped and froze.
"What is it?" the examiner asked, curious to know the secret. But Hinata's father did not respond. Instead he reached in somberly and took out a plain white envelope.
Hiashi walked back to the group stiffly; his expression was unreadable. Although as he handed Hinata the letter, a look of worry flitted pass his face.
Hinata's face was gaunt as she read the writing on the envelope:
To Hyuuga Hinata
With shaky hands, she opened the envelope and read the letter.
By now, you may have discovered the lovely surprise I left inside the examination piano.
Be glad to know that you are next.
The occupants of the room were all delighted when she fainted once again.
"Miss Hinata, are you feeling alright?" a nurse asked her tentatively.
Hinata sighed; she had lost count of those little holes in the white hospital ceiling.
"Yes, I'm feeling okay. Just like any normal person after seeing a dead body in the piano of an important examination and then having their life threatened by an anonymous..." She suddenly gasped, her eyes widened, as tremors shook through her body.
"The patient is having seizure! Quick! Help!" the shocked nurse yelled out as she tried to calm the poor girl's body spasms.
Once again, she opened her eyes to the dreary white ceiling of the hospital.
"Father, have you had any news of what happened yesterday afternoon?"
Hiashi sighed. How would he break it to her?
"Well, they have identified the owner of the body. I'm afraid it was a fellow student of the Music Academy."
Hinata's face paled considerable. Was the killer targeting Mudemy students?
"Wh-wh-o?" she asked, her voice quivering.
Hinata choked. Ino had been an older student whom she had admired and looked up to. Because of the confident way she had always presented herself in her music performances, Hinata had propped her up as her role model.
Hinata couldn't grasp the idea. Her head started spinning again.
A sigh was heard from Hiashi.
Hinata had fainted. Again.
Blearily opening her eyes, Hinata couldn't help but feel a sense of déjà vu as she stared unblinkingly at the drab white ceiling.
"Hinata, I'm worried about your mental and physical well being. Thus, I have decided that you will have weekly checkups at this hospital." Hiashi frowned down at his precious eldest daughter.
Hinata groaned. Her father thought she was mental. What more 'good news' will he bring?
"And I am also hiring a detective/bodyguard. He will stay by your side whenever you are out of the Hyuuga compound."
"But the police are already investigating into the matter!" she exclaimed. Her father was taking things too seriously again.
Such as when she was at the tender age of six, and had her lollipop stolen from her at school. The naughty little boy guilty of the crime was…expelled.
Out of primary school.
"Nevertheless, I must take your well being into perspective. So I would like you to meet your bodyguard and private detective for this case" Her father stiffly directed his hand at the open door.
There at the door, in all of his one hundred watt smiling glory, stood the blond boy. The Boy in the park!
"Hi! I'm Naruto Uzumaki! Nice to meet you!"
Although her heart was beating, for she could finally see him up close (instead of 'observing' from afar), Hinata had grown rather cynical over the past year. She eyed the still smiling man.
What was it with the exclamation marks? The overwhelming voice? The cute whiskered smile?
'Cute?' Hinata thought distastefully, trying to fight her agitating trademark blush from creeping up her neck and cheek.
She failed miserably.
Hinata wondered why fate was so cruel to her. She had never been a naughty child, had always taken her medicine when she was told… So why was she here now?
Sitting a hair breadth's away was her obsession. Not a crush, but her infatuation.
"I'm going to be your knight in shining armor from now on! Feel free to call me when you need help!"
Yes, the overuse of exclamation marks was distracting, but the sparkles in his cerulean blue eyes were even more so. Not to mention his sunlight silk hair.
Why was the boy not in a shampoo commercial?
The radiance of the boy was giving her sunburn. Yes, that was it; she was not blushing at all!
"N-nice to meet you," Hinata muttered, facing the other way. She was sure she'd melt if she looked at him.
"Huh?!" Naruto leaned closer, the exact opposite of what Hinata wanted him to do. "Speak a bit louder, I can't hear you!"
Naruto's hand contacted with Hinata's shoulder. Said girl made a gurgling sound before collapsing on her bed.
"Naruto, be gentle with her…" Shikamaru sighed. "She is the heiress to Hyuuga Corps."
"Her?" Naruto's eyes budged out with disbelief. "So she's a princess?"
Shikamaru shrugged lethargically. "If you want to put it that way, then yes."
Naruto's eyes widened. "Wow, cool!"
"Na-naruto-kun…" Hinata managed to stutter.
"I-I'd like to ask you for a favour. I-if it's not too much trouble."
"Anything for my princess!" Naruto exclaimed.
Hinata blushed when Naruto said 'princess'.
"I-I want to know who's doing all this."
"Don't worry Hinata, we'll definitely find out who it is, I mean Shikamaru-kun is on the case! Though he doesn't look like it, he's a genius!"
Hinata shook her head slightly. "No Naruto, I need to do this myself." the girl had an unseen fire in her eyes. "I need to catch the murderer. I have to see the expression of their face when they are captured."
Hinata looked downwards the epitome of shyness. "Well, it's a secret."
Hinata flared as Naruto put his hand on her shoulder. "Well I'll help you anyway! I'm going to be the greatest detective one day, believe it! Let's conquer this case together!"
Hinata gave a small rare smile. It was going to be a lot more convenient with Naruto around her…
"Yes, this is the Uchiha Sasuke speaking…" Sasuke eyes widened slightly and frowned slightly as he heard the bad news. His first candidate Ino, dead. Part of him wondered if it was a joke. No, definitely not. No one dared to joke with Uchiha Sasuke.
It seemed almost too convenient, a tiny part of him was sorry to see such an aspiring pianist leave the world so abruptly and tragically. Sasuke gave his condolences and was silent for a few seconds. Then he changed back into a brisk business-like manner.
"The replacement… Yes, I already have someone in mind…. No it is not my second candidate choice. Her name? Hyuuga Hinata."
Sasuke hung up. His marble face indelible and emotionless. Then, as he walked into his kitchen his upper lip gave a slight tremor before shedding a single tear. The Uchiha stopped to take a deep breath and closed his eyes. Respect for Yamanaka Ino, sorry for a premature flower that never got to see its day in the sun. Three seconds later Uchiha looked up and continued his daily business. Mourning was over.
Some grief shows much of love; But much of grief shows still some want of wit – William Shakespeare.
Hinata sighed as she rested her head on the table in her dark room. This was her happy place, well her second happy place. The piano was always her first. She walked over to her wall were she stuck photos of people she admired and wanted to be one day. They were her inspiration.
The pictures spoke to her when she was down. It was true. 'Believe in yourself." that's what the photo of the blonde boy eating ramen was saying to her. Hinata closed her eyes and nodded. Yes, that was what she was going to do. Believe in herself.
Hinata was of course slightly embarrassed with her obsession. It had all started with one photo of him in the park. Then it led to a couple more. Eventually she found herself standing in front of his garden taking pictures of him in his sleep.
Hinata believed he was the perfect guy, and Yamanaka Ino was the perfect girl. Both blond and beautiful, they were destined to be together. Why did she have to die? Hinata angrily slashed at the photos of Ino's picture perfect porcelain face. Hinata saw red and in her fury forgot herself.
When she came to, she looked her ruined pictures bitterly. Everything had gone wrong! From Ino's sudden and tragic death to Naruto being appointed as her bodyguard. Naruto HAD to be with Ino… And now that she was gone… The only way for them to be together was to…
Hinata shook her head and threw the mutilated photographs in the trash. She looked up and sighed.
Naruto was calling for her.
"Using my superb ninja skills, I found a time slot where Yamanaka's house will be clear of inspectors! Better yet, it's before the forensics come in!"
Hinata gasped, surprised that Naruto could get such a good time. "T-that's good." she managed to stutter.
Naruto shrugged. "We only have 5 minutes though." Without warning, Naruto grabbed Hinata by the hand and they began running towards Yamanaka's Ino's dorm.
"We have to be careful to not leave our fingerprints anywhere." Naruto reminded Hinata as they went through the door. Hinata nodded absent-mindedly and walked over to the bedroom. Why was it so disorderly? Hinata cringed as her illusion of her object of idolatry was broken. Hinata knew she had to calm down, or she'd go crazy in front of Naruto….
Hinata walked over the window. Oblivious, Naruto followed her.
"Good thinking, Hinata. Since we saw that the door was obviously not tampered with, the perpetrator most likely came from the window!" He leaned closer on the balcony surveying the sill.
"Hey, Hinata. I've got a clue." Naruto said.
Hinata's eyes widened. " What is it?
"Green nail polish." Naruto frowned. "Why would anyone wear that on her fingers? If there's any colour to paint, it should be orange!"
Hinata let out a long slow breath, green nail polish huh? That was a start. Naruto looked at his watch. "Time to go, come on Hinata! I don't know what would happen if they caught us here!"
Naruto grabbed Hinata by the hand and ran out of the dorm. He was still holding her hand when they arrived at her manor door. Naruto caught a male figure clad in complete black.
The person smelt suspicious.
Hinata was about to tell Naruto to go slowly and pounce on the trespasser by surprise. But Naruto had different ideas. He charged straight up to the male and tackled him from behind.
"Hinata, do you know this person?" Naruto grabbed a handsome male by the collar.
The male looked disgusted.
"N-no. I never seen him before," Hinata paused. "But Naruto-san, maybe you should let him go. He doesn't seem like he was doing any harm…"
"This man was trespassing!" Naruto exclaimed.
"I was about to ring the doorbell." the male said through gritted teeth.
Hinata tried to mollify the situation. "If you're looking for Neji-niisan, he's not-"
"No," the male interrupted with his deep timbre. "I was looking for you. There is something I have to discuss with you, Hyuuga Hinata."
Hinata, looked at Naruto pleadingly, sighing he obliged and let go of the man's collar. "And here I thought we had finally caught a stalker."
The male snorted, apparently he appreciated a sense of humour. "Would a stalker ring their victim's doorbell in broad daylight?"
Naruto crossed his arms defensively. "Well you never know what's going through a mind of a deranged person."
Hinata looked at Naruto.
Yes, you'll never know.
"You want me to play with you for your concert?" Hinata said with disbelief.
Sasuke sighed, he had thought he had finally found a female that was resistant to his charms. Maybe he really was too good looking for his own good.
"Please do not make me repeat my invitation. You'd be insulting your own hearing and intelligence."
Naruto looked over to Hinata. "That's great, Hinata-chan!"
Hinata could hardly breathe, let alone talk. Sasuke looked worriedly. Did he pick the wrong person again? The poor girl looked as though she was about to have a nervous breakdown. Finally her trembling stopped and she looked up at Sasuke directly in the eye. She tilted her chin and instantly was possessed by an aura of nobility.
"Thank you for your proposal, Uchiha Sasuke. I, Hyuuga Hinata will accept it and be your concert partner." Hinata paused. "For one condition."
Sasuke raised an eyebrow. He had thought anyone would be honoured to play with an Uchiha, asking something for in exchange almost seemed like he was burdening her…
"You will compose a requiem for Yamanaka Ino and perform it in the memorial service."
Sasuke looked up, surprise clearly in his eyes. He had thought she would ask for something superficial. Flowers, a date, even possibly jewellery…
This girl is intrigues me.
"Very well." Uchiha Sasuke replied after a long pause. In fact, he had made his mind up almost instantly. This girl was too interesting to pass off. He wanted to keep her and see how she would develop.
"See the guest to the door please." Hinata said in a quiet voice. A servant materialized and quickly escorted the Uchiha out of the room. Only when the room close did Hinata collapse onto the couch.
She had managed to keep a cool façade only because she had her thoughts completely directed on the Uchiha, as a lady of the house, she was an expert at copying people's expressions and gestures. Hinata pretended to be Uchiha Sasuke. And for what reason one may ask?
The glorious mass of blonde that was sitting next to her was simply too overwhelming.
Naruto crouched over Hinata, a worried expression on his face.
"Are you sure we don't need to take you to the doctors?"
"Yes," Hinata said, avoiding his eyes. They were just too bright. "It happens a lot… Especially when I'm nervous."
Naruto looked out of the window. The pale man had just exited the mansion property.
"He was rather handsome wasn't he? I'm surprised you didn't faint there and then."
Hinata made a small muffled sound as Naruto brushed her shoulder.
Naruto thought it was confirmation.
"Don't worry Hinata!" Naruto proclaimed in his usually loud tone. "I'm rooting for you! Go get him!"
Yes, Naruto is a brick in the story. He's like that in the anime so deal with it! The next chapter will come (not so) soon!
Out of physics, chemistry and biology; which subject do you like best?
I like physics personally. I'm the type of person that likes logical things and physics is logic.. Hmmhmm.