NOTE: This is a very old fic which used to be published on this site but which I deleted in a fit of depression. It's never going to be completed, but I got requests for it regularly enough that I thought I'd just re-upload it. Since it's very old, naturally there are lots of elements of it that no longer fit with canon. But my intention was always to tell my own story, so I never tried to be true to what I thought would happen.

I've kept the Author's Notes intact from the original, but I'm going to remove the review responses. Just treat the whole thing as a reproduction rather than something new. For example: I'm well aware of the various errors that are based on incorrect translations. Also there might be some inconsistencies based on edits that were made to the uploaded documents rather than the ones saved to my hard drive.

The Legends of the Fox

Disclaimer – I don't own Naruto. Never will, don't want to. But dabbling is fun!

Prologue

"Mama, tell me a story!"

The little girl lay in her bed, but all the same she was filled with energy. Her mother smiled serenely and brushed her daughter's messy hair. "Alright my little one, what would you like to hear about?"

"Ninjas! The strongest ninjas in the world!"

The woman laughed gently and kissed her daughter's forehead. "Alright. This story starts right here, many years ago. Your mother was just a little baby when a terrible monster attacked the village. It killed many brave ninjas and even some of their beautiful little children."

Yume frowned at her mother's words, her bottom lip quivering. This didn't seem like such a good story after all.

"But don't worry, the monster was stopped. The greatest ninja in the village--"

"Yay! Tell me about him!"

"Shush. The greatest ninja in the village knew there was only one way of stopping the terrible monster, and it would mean sacrificing his life for his village's safety. But he was strong and his heart was pure, so he had no regrets. Except that he couldn't live to protect the people he loved for longer.

"The great ninja took into his hands a tiny baby, and using his greatest technique he sealed the monster away within the child's belly."

"How did it fit?" Yume asked, puzzled. Her mother smiled. "It shrank, of course! Shrank down inside a seal on the baby's stomach."

"Who was the baby? Did he grow up to be the strongest ninja in the world? Stronger than papa?!"

"Just wait Yume. Now news of the great ninja's sacrifice spread far and wide, but the truth about the little boy was kept a secret outside of the village. Except for the leaders of the other villages, who were told the secret in case of great emergency. Now one of these leaders when he heard about the baby boy wasn't impressed by his heroism. And he wasn't even scared of the monster's power like too many were. No, all he felt was jealousy.

"But he also had an idea. A terrible, terrible idea. But one which excited him. He felt that his village was too weak, and he wanted to do something about that. So he took an old tea kettle that the village kept locked safely away and he used another great technique. Inside the kettle was another monster, and inside the belly of the man's wife was another baby. So the man took the monster, and used his power to seal it away within his unborn son. So when that baby was born, now there were two children out there with the same burden."

"What's burden mama?"

"A burden is something you have to carry, Yume. It can be something simple like a promise or it can be a terrible monster. Each of the brave little boys – just by living – had to hold back the powers of the monsters they carried. Every moment of their lives was spent protecting the people of their villages from the wrath of those monsters, and even though they should have been praised for such bravery they weren't. Instead they were hated and feared and abused. And they grew up anyone to love them."

"What about their mamas and papas? Didn't they love them?"

The woman smiled sadly at her daughter and stroked her cheek. "The little boy who carried the fox monster didn't have a mama or papa. And the other boy's mama was dead, and his papa was afraid of him. He was a bad man, bad enough to curse his son, and he didn't love him like he should have done."

Yume's eyes filled with tiny tears, and she reached out for her mother. Taking her daughter into her arms, the dark haired woman whispered into the little girl's ears that she loved her and she would always love her.

"But don't worry little Yume. Don't worry. Because despite how hard their childhoods were, both boys grew up strong and loving. The little boy from here in the Leaf village grew up without any friends, but even so he became warm and loving and kind. The little boy from the Sand was less lucky. He grew up cold and cruel."

"Cruel?"

"Yes. He was very strong. Stronger than any normal child could be, and people were scared of him. When he was just a few years older than you his father ordered the only person he loved to kill him, and he accidentally killed her instead. So he grew up thinking that the only way to live was to kill."

"I don't like him!"

"Just wait a little while, things change. When they were both twelve years old the two boys met for the first time. They had both grown very strong, and they fought. The boy from the Sand, he had been told to attack the Leaf, and the other boy wanted to protect the village he loved, even if it hated him. So with everything he had he fought back against what looked like impossible odds, and finally he beat the tanuki child. But he didn't kill him. He didn't hate him. He opened his heart to the boy whom he knew had felt the same pain as him, and accepted him. And that was how the boy from the Sand learned about the true meaning of strength."

"To protect your precious people!"

"That's right," the woman kissed her darling daughter. "The fox boy knew that instinctively, even though as far as he knew no one had ever loved him."

"What happened next?"

"Well, they both kept on growing bigger and stronger. The tanuki boy learned to love his family and his people, and he became the leader of his village. But there was a terrible group of people who wanted the powers of the monsters inside the children. They craved power, and would sacrifice everything and everyone to get it. They captured both of the children, which was the second time they met. Neither had forgotten the other, and each considered the other a true friend for all that they had only met once. The boy from the Leaf shared the secret of the fox monster with his friend, and the other boy knew at last that they were the same.

"And together they fought. They were strong, but anyone would have considered them weaker than their captors, since they were two to nine. But they fought with all they had, and they fought with a greater bond and love than any of those nine bad men could understand."

"And that's why they won?"

The woman laughed. "That, and their friends. They had made great friends in their lives, and those friends stopped at nothing to save them. There were fifteen of them in total – boys and girls and even a dog. Together they fought and defeated the bad men. And the boy with wild blonde hair--"

"Like mine!"

"Yes, just like yours. The boy with the wild blonde hair and the fox monster sealed inside himself was finally recognized as a true hero by his village and made their leader. And together the two became known as the strongest ninjas ever to live – an unstoppable team - and the greatest leaders of their villages ever as well."

"The boy… he was from the Leaf, wasn't he?"

"Yes, he was."

"And the leader of the Leaf is the Hokage!"

"Right again my little angel."

"But papa is the Hokage! And before him was Tsu-obaasan! So the story can't be true!"

"Think it through a little more Yume, it'll come to you."

Yume pouted and looked at the facts. Her papa was the strongest ninja in the village, that was why he was Hokage, she knew that. And the leader of the Sand was the Kazekage, her uncle Gaara. He was her papa's best friend. And… Yume's eyes grew wide.

"The little boy… was papa? And the other one was Gaara-ojisan?"

"I knew you'd figure it out, you're so smart."

"Then that means… that papa has a monster sealed inside him?" Uzumaki Yume's pale eyes filled with tears again, and she trembled.

"That's why he has those marks on his cheek."

Yume brushed her own cheek, tears flowing down her face. Her mother wiped them away. She could see the question in her daughter's eyes. "Don't worry little one, there's no monster in you," she traced the whisker marks on Yume's face one at a time. "All it means is that you'll grow up strong like your papa. Maybe even stronger!"

"I wanna be the Hokage too! I'll be stronger than papa and mama and I'll make sure no one has to grow up alone again! And I'll.. I'll.." her eyes drooped and, the only words that came out of her mouth after that were too quiet to hear as she fell asleep.

"That's the spirit my little Yume. Grow up strong and brave just like your father."

"Did I hear someone mention me?" Uzumaki Naruto, Rokudaime Hokage of the Hidden Leaf and still the number one unpredictable ninja popped his head round the doorframe. "Nice story. Shame you missed out the part about the little fox boy's beautiful and talented admirer, and how she won the heart of the strongest ninja in the world who was too stupid to notice how lucky he was. I know that's my favourite part. Well, that and how she took pity on him and agreed to marry the senseless clod, even though she could have had anyone she wanted."

And he kissed her, and it was still as filled with love and passion as their first kiss and their second, and every one through the years. He'd promised to love her forever, after all, and Uzumaki Naruto never went back on his word. And neither did Uzumaki Hinata, which is why she returned that kiss with just as much fire as she had every time before.

"But I only wanted you."

Author's Note – well, here's what may be the start of a new fic. Or it might be a one shot - it works either way. I plan on it being the prologue to a longer story. Probably with short chapters updated fairly quickly rather than longer ones. I think I can maintain interest better that way. I could have stretched this out longer than I did, but I didn't see the point. It tells the story it's supposed to.