Chapter 1

A light breeze rustled the crisp autumn leaves as a young, blonde-haired girl picked a boquet or flowers. Behind her, her friends played some sort of game. But she wasn't interested; he top priority was gathering flowers. They had such beautiful blossoms this time of year, and she wanted to make sure they would be loved to their full extent.

Seven-year-old Yamanaka Ino finished her bouquet with a beautiful rose that was in full bloom. It was in the center of lilacs and baby's breath, a beautiful combination for the both eyes and nose. As usual, her artistic ability was unparalleled by anyone. She smiled in success as she tied the bouquet with an ocean-blue ribbion.

This particular work of art had been intended for one person in particular. She didn't know his name, but she knew she wanted to make him happy. The other villagers - even people as old as her father - ridiculed the boy, referring to him as a "demon fox." She couldn't fathom why people hated him so much, why they shunned him from soceity. Her curiosity finally began to bubble out of her, and so she had asked her father, "Daddy, why does everybody hate that boy? No one else even knows his name."

"He's an evil demon who attacked the village," her father had said bitterly. Tons of the villagers had crowded around the boy and ridiculed him curelly as he whimpered and cried.

"But Daddy, he's just a boy! My age. And he's cute!" She blushed slightly. The blonde male was cute.

"That monster killed your mother," her father hissed in reply. "I forbid you from talking to hi - No. I forbid you from making any sort of contact with that demon. Do you understand me?" His voice was sharp with anger, which frightened Ino a little.

With tears rolling down her cheeks, she stammered, "Y-yes, Daddy. I...I won't even look at him." In that instance, she hated herself for being so cruel to the child, hated her father for making her say it, and hated everyone in Konoha for hating the boy.

"That's a good girl," her father answered, instantly brightening as he pulled her away.

That had been two weeks ago. Since then, Ino's curiosity had grown stronger and stronger, along with her admiration for the boy. Her friends all hated him, as well, and so she put on a front, pretending instead to like Uchiha Sasuke. But everyone like Sasuke; Ino found herself unattracted to him just because of that. The blonde was so much more beautiful; although he cried all the time because of constant bullying, Ino could see that he was a beautiful flower, and one of the rarest and most extravagant. More than anything, Ino wanted to see him smile.

And so that brought her to the current time, finalizing her bouquet for the boy. Smiling, Ino looked over her shoulder at her playmates. They had either forgotten she was there or was ignoring her, but it didn't matter. That would only make it easier to slip away and find "the demon fox."

Cradling her flowers in her left arm, Ino set out to one of the several locations where they boy was always spotted - a sparkling lake with a small dock connected to it. Usually, on her way to the playground, Ino saw the blonde sitting at the very end of the dock, dangling his legs over the edge and staring into the water. She hoped to find him there today.

The lake came into view, and she noticed someone sitting on the dock, throwing stones into the water. The person had blonde hair and was wearing similar clothes to what she remembered the object of her admiration wearing. Oh, please let it be him! Ino thought excitedly as she ran towards the dock.

As soon as her foot hit the wood of the dock, she stopped. It was the boy! It had to be. But if he realized her presence, he didn't show it. Ino's heart picked up speed a little, but she gulped it down and approached him slowly. "Um, hellow there." Ino stopped aout a foot away from the boy and waited.

He dropped a stone into the water, directly on the reflection of his face. The water rippled, and Ino was sad to noticed a tear fall from his cheek. He sniffled weakly and returned her greeting. "H-hi. Are you here to tease me, too?" They boy sniffled louder at that.

"Oh, no, I would never do that." Ino answered sofrly as she sat beside him on the dock. "Actually, I...I wanted to give you these." She held up the flowers softly, towards him.

The boy looked up to her, a look of shock plain on his face. "These are...these are for me?" Kami, he was so adorable!

Ino nodded softly, adding a smile to it. "But on one condition. I wanted to know...What's your name?"

The blonde male smiled as though she had asked him to marry her and answered, "Uzumaki Naruto!"

Naruto. What a beautiful name. It definitely suited him. "That's nice," Ino answered with a smile as she handed him the flowers. "My name's Yamanaka Ino."

"That's really pretty!" Naruto said happily as he took the flowers from her. "Just like these flowers, dattebayo. Where did you get them?"

"I put them together myself!" She boasted proudly.

"Really? Cool! I like them even more." He paused for a moment, then blushed feverishly. "So, um...Does this make us friends?" He looked to the water, at their reflections.

"Of course, silly! I gave those to you because I wanted to be your friend. To see you smile."

Naruto's eyes widened as he looked to her. "Really?" Then he broke into a smile. "It feels good to have a friend. Hey, wanna come over my house sometime?"

"Well, today's bad for me, but I could probably come over tomorrow." She answered excitedly. He was so beautiful...Whenever he smiled, his ocean-blue eyes sparkled in the sunlight and his whole face glowed. Why did people always call him ugly? Even when he cried, he was beautiful. No matter how hard she tried, Ino couldn't understand why people hated him so much or thought of him as ugly.

His smile was like the sun. "Awesome! Hey...Ino-chan..."-he blushed and looked down to his flowers--"would you like to play with me?" Naruto looked up to her again and waited paitently, looking into her eyes.

Ino smiled happily. "Sure! Let's go on the swings." Joy almost overtook her, but she fought it down, ketting it out as a small giggle.

"I love the swings!" Naruto cheered, jumping to his feet. "C'mon, Ino-chan, I'll push you first." He held out his free hand and helped her to her feet.

Ino let out another small giggle.


The two blondes played together on the swings for a long while. By the time Ino finally realized how late it was, the sun had already set. Any moment now, her father would come storming after her, demanding that she come home. Digging her heels into the ground, Ino murmured, "Naruto-kun, I have to go home now." Her voice was full of the sadness she felt.

Beside her, Naruto skid to a halt. He looked up to the sky and murmured, "Yeah, I guess it is getting late for normal kids." Before she could ask what he meant, Naruto looked over to her and asked, "Would you like me to walk you home, Ino-chan?" His eyes sparkled, deep ocean-blue even in the falling darkness.

"I don't think that'd be a good idea..." Ino murmured, looking to her feet. "My Daddy...He...doesn't..."

"He thinks of me as a Demon Fox." Naruto said slatly, causing her to look up to him in surprise. Gulity tears welled in her eyes as he looked to the ground and murmured, "Everyone does, dattebayo. I'm used to it by now."

"I'm sorry," she whispered, looking to the ground. "But I don't think that, Naruto-kun!" She looked up to him and continued, "I think you're fun to be with. You're a good friend, and I want to see you again tomorrow."

Naruto looked up to her. "Really? You really wanna see me again?"

Ino nodded firmly as she stood. "I wanna go to your house. But until then..." her voice drifted off as she moved in front of the male and held her arms out wide. "Until then, I want a hug goodbye." She blushed a little.

Naruto beamed and, standing as he gripped his bouquet close - he had not relinquished it in all that time - hugged her.

It was wondergul. Ino smiled, happy to have a friend that was actually a friend. All of the girls who called themselves her 'friends' always used and abused her. Even though she had just met him today, Ino knew Naruto wouldn't be the same.

After a moment, Naruto let her go. "Well, bye." She stuttered, waving as she turned and moved off.

"Ino-chan," Naruto called softly.

"Hmm?" Ino replied, looking over her shoulder at him.

"Thanks. For everything." He looked down to the flowers and smiled.

Ino smiled as well, giggling a little. "Yeah. See you tomorrow, Naruto-kun!" The entire way home, she was smiling.


"Yamanaka Ino," her father chastised as she walked through her front door, "where have you been? You were supposed to be home a half hour ago, young girl!"

"I'm sorry," Ino apologized, looking to the ground as she held her hands behind her back. "I was at Sakura's house, and I didn't realize how late it had gotten. So I ran home as soon as I noticed how late it was. I'm really sorry, Daddy." At the last sentence, she looked up at her father with sad, regretful eyes.

Yamanaka Inoichi was an easy person to manipulate. "Oh, hun, that's alright. As long as you remember that you have to be home when the sun sets, okay?"

Ino nodded once. "Okay. I'll try to be carefuler next time."

Her father smiled. "More careful, Ino, not 'carefuler.'" He moved off to the kitchen. "Sakura-chan's house, you said? I like that girl - very tender-hearted. Better than some of your other friends, that's for sure."

"Yeah." Ino answered as she climbed the stairs to her room. She had met Haruno Sakura about two months ago, and decided to be friends with her. Ino didn't really like her, to be honest, but it was a good alibi to use. Safer than using one of her other friends. "Anyway, Daddy, I'm gonna go to bed, okay?"

"Have you eaten yet?" He called from below.

"At Sakura's house!" She shouted back as she reached her room and closed the door.

Once inside her room, Ino changed into her pajamas and crawled into her bed, her thoughts on nothing but Naruto.


Translations:

Kami - God

Dattebayo - 'You know' not 'Believe it.'

A/n

X3 X3 X3. This pairing is so cute! Ah, young love :) They look so good together, ne? Anyway, obviously, this story will last a while, since it started out when they were young. I plan to have a good plotline, lots of dramatic teen-age angst (XD) and just make it seem realistic, y'know? Read and review, please! Until next time, ciao!