Disclaimer: Masashi Kishimoto is the creator of Naruto. As for me, aside from my characters and the plot, I own nothing.
Title: Confessions of the Heart
Genres: Drama, Romance, Angst, Friendship
Main Pairing: Naruto x Hinata
Authoress Note: This small story is a dedication for chapter 437, Confession from the manga. It deals with one of the most awaited moments for all Naruto x Hinata fans. After I read it, I simply could not deal with the sudden urge to write something about it. So, if you have not read that chapter yet, remember that there will be spoilers here. But heck, if you are a Naruto x Hinata fan, and have not read that chapter yet, then let me ask you: what are you waiting for? Also,I just want to apologize for the errors you'll find because English is my second language. I did my best to correct the mistakes, but I know some went unnoticed. I am sorry about those.
Summary: "You are no match to him!" Naruto screamed, but Hinata did not glance at him as she answered. "I know. I'm…just being selfish. I'm here of my own free will. You changed me. Your smile saved me. So I'm not afraid to die protecting you! Because…I love you." Naruto x Hinata
Confessions of the Heart
Konohagakure no longer resembled to the glamorous and authoritative village it had once been. There were no warm colours welcoming the visitors, and there was no hilarity echoing through the streets. Instead, the village was quiet, resembling to a mournful painting forgotten in a decaying wall.
Clouds of smoke could still be spotted scattered throughout the village, and walls disintegrating would sporadically reverberate from somewhere as the sun unhurriedly abandoned the horizon in a dawdling, almost agonizing dance towards the top of the heavens. It was almost as if not even the brightest of all stars was willing to expose Konohagakure's desolation to the world.
There had been no chance to rebirth. Although ashes had indeed started to be carried away by light breezes, the truth was that even before life could spring again, a creature had emerged from the shadows.
Everything had been ineffective against the monster and its appetite for bloodshed. Everything it touched was greedily eaten by the beast's craving for horror, blood…death. Casualties had occurred, many tears had been shed along with last breathes, and screeches of pain or torment had become the tune of a nightfall that all souls wanted to forget.
There had been no childhood during that time. There had been no inexperience, incorruptibility or naïveté. Every mind had been corrupted in so many torturing ways that even the youngest of all children would forever bear in mind the odour of corrosion and fatality.
All bonds had been broken, and survivors had either been seconds away from growing insane or had forced themselves to block the memories of those perpetual hours deep in the back of their minds. Occasionally they would be obligated to return back in time, but most practically tortured themselves into letting go of all the misery and depression that had followed that excruciating night.
And yet all of them were aware that forgetting was something they would never be able to do.
A pale hand moved forward, and stroked a tanned cheek before caressing the three thin black lines that marked the skin. A pair of pale-green orbs was observing the external injuries in the body of the sleeping ninja before they landed on the face.
Carefully, Haruno Sakura reached out for her friend's bandaged hand, and cupped it with both her hands. Gently, she squeezed his fingers, and a saddened expression appeared on her face when he did not return the gesture.
He had been lying on that bed for a week now, and even though most of his injuries had already healed, he simply did not wake up. Sakura had tried everything she could to wake up him, and even though she had yet to give up on him, she simply did not know what else she could do.
"Naruto…" Sakura whispered as she raised her right hand, and run her fingers through the boy's blond locks, "C'mon, you have to wake up. We…we need you here so please…please wake up…"
When she noticed her vision was getting blurred, Sakura closed her eyes, and took a long and deep breath. She had been trying not to cry for a long time…ever since she had seen Naruto being dominated by the power of the Nine-Tail. Had someone given her the chance to cry her eyes out, Sakura would have done it, but she could not. At the moment it did not matter what she wanted; what mattered was that Konohagakure needed everyone to put themselves together in order to rebuild the village.
And then there were her friends…
"Please Naruto…" Sakura whispered, unable to stop one tear from rolling down her cheeks as she glanced at her sleeping friend again, "Please…wake up…"
"Sakura," a voice called out all of a sudden, and the medical-nin immediately wiped her tear away before she looked over her shoulder. Her eyes found a pair of crystalline-blue ones almost instantly, "Tsunade-sensei needs our help. I need you to go pick up some herbs for her."
"Yes, I'm going." Sakura answered with a nod, and Yamanaka Ino nodded in return before she walked away, leaving the door slightly opened.
Looking down for a moment, Sakura turned to Naruto again before she touched his cheek once more. A ghost of a smile graced her pale features for a second, almost as if she was silently asking for him to surprise her, and open his eyes, but when nothing happened, Sakura dropped her hand.
No matter how much she wished to spend her time next to Naruto, she knew she could not. There were other patients who needed her help.
"I'll be back later." Sakura announced before she stood up from the stool, and she noiselessly walked towards the door only to glance one last time at the sleeping figure. When she finally told herself that Naruto was not going to wake up, Sakura closed the door, and walked away.
What she did not know was that right when she turned her back to the room, a groan escaped from Naruto's lips.
"I won't let you lay another finger on Naruto-kun."
Gasping, Naruto closed his eyes even harder, and started shifting on the mattress. Mumbling, Naruto tried to raise his right hand, but all he managed to do was to twitch his fingers.
"I know… I'm…just being selfish…"
A moan echoed through the room as Naruto continued to unconsciously try to raise his hand, incomprehensible words abandoning his lips.
"I'm here of my own free will. I used to always cry and give up… I nearly went the wrong way… But you…you showed me the right way…"
Finally Naruto managed to raise his bandaged hand from the mattress, his fingers quivering at the effort, and a grunt escaped from his lips. Involuntarily, he kept his eyes close as hard as he could, and gritted his teeth as he struggled to force his arm to rise from the bed as well.
"Hi…" Naruto hissed through his teeth, bullets of sweat forming on his forehead as he continued to try to force his body to obey to his thoughts.
"I was always watching you…wanting to overtake you… I just wanted to talk to you…I wanted to be with you."
"Hina…" Naruto whispered again, and a drop of sweat rolled down his face as he continued to recall one of his last memories.
"You changed me. Your smile saved me. So I'm not afraid to die protecting you."
"Hina…ta…" Naruto finally managed to murmur as he continued fighting to raise his arm, his eyes still closed.
Then, long and dark tresses flashed in Naruto's mind.
"Because I…love you."
"Hinata!" Naruto finally screamed as loud as his hoarse voice allowed him to, his eyes widening in horror as flashes of the Hyuuga heiress attacking Pain conquered his mind. Wheezing, Naruto stared at the ceiling before he started glancing around; his breathing still extremely irregular while drops of sweat rolled down his face.
Blinking, Naruto finally noticed that he was no longer in the battlefield, and that someone had probably taken him to a hospital. As he closed his eyes, Naruto focused his feeble strength in calming his heart down before he decided to try to sit on the bed.
"Naruto-kun!" a voice gasped, and the blond immediately turned to his side, his heart skipping various beats at the voice, but he felt a lump form on his throat when his eyes fell on a familiar black haired woman.
Without thinking twice, Shizune rushed to Naruto's sight, leaving the door partly opened.
"Naruto-kun, how are you feeling?" the woman asked when she reached his side, and she immediately started checking his vitals. Naruto, on the other hand, simply looked away, feeling too exhausted to answer her questions. "Does this hurt?"
Ignoring the way Shizune was pressing his ribs, Naruto focused his attention on a window next to him before he decided to speak up.
"Where's…?" he paused, his eyes locked with the heavens as he felt Shizune touching his injured right hand, "Where's Hinata?"
Shizune stopped moving his hand at the question, and Naruto felt a new lump on his throat. Silence was not good. In fact, he was beginning to hate such stillness. Even when he had not sensed Kakashi's chakra, Tsunade had preferred to stay silent to tell him that his teacher had passed away.
"Where is she?" Naruto repeated finally moving his head so that he could stare at Shizune right in the eye, and the melancholy that was reflecting in the woman's eyes did not go unnoticed. "Where is Hinata?"
"Naruto!" a new voice exclaimed, and Shizune moved to her side in order to stare at the door. As a reaction, the boy looked in the same direction only to breath in relief when his eyes fell on a familiar pink haired kunoichi, "Oh, Naruto!"
Before Naruto had time to react, Sakura rushed to his side, and surprisingly pulled him upwards so that she could hug him as tightly as she could. Naruto knew that if they were in a different situation he would not only be glad for the hug, but he would also comment that Sakura was just about to fracture some of his already abused ribs.
"Sakura, don't do that! He's in convalescence!" Shizune reprimanded after a few seconds, but Sakura simply continued to hug Naruto, who finally decided to wrap his left arm around his friend's torso. "I need to check his injuries!"
"Y-You're right, I…I'm sorry…" Sakura apologized as she finally broke the embrace, and Naruto sadly noticed her tears as the medical-nin shifted away. "I'm just so happy…I was so worried…"
"Sakura-chan…" Naruto mumbled, and he felt a pang against his heart when Sakura glanced at him with a faint smile on her lips at same time she wiped her tears away. Slowly, he raised a hand, and managed to catch a tear before it rolled down his friend's face, "Don't cry…"
"I'm just…so relieved!" Sakura confessed, her smile quivering as she spoke, "I was so worried! You've been sleeping for one week!"
"One week?" Naruto repeated, and when Sakura nodded he turned to Shizune, his face empty of any emotion. "Where's Hinata?"
The uncomfortable silence surrounded them once more, and when he noticed the way both Shizune and Sakura had looked away at his question, Naruto looked down. He could feel the pain gradually emerging from his heart, and he unconsciously grasped the front of his medical gown with his left hand.
"Your smile saved me. So I'm not afraid to die protecting you. Because I…love you."
Naruto closed his eyes at those words, and took a deep breath.
Although he had his eyes closed, Naruto knew that both Shizune and Sakura had shared a look, and that was all that he needed to know the answer to his question. He had failed to protect the Hyuuga heiress. He had failed to protect everyone…
"She died because she wanted…to protect me…" Naruto heard himself say, and he gradually opened his eyes only to focus his attention on the sheet that was covering his legs. "She told she…loved me…"
"Naruto-kun, Hinata-san…" Shizune started, but the young man simply ignored her.
"She said…she said my smile had saved her and that all she wanted was to…be with me…" Naruto continued, but he stopped talking when a pale hand fell on his left one. Still without showing any emotion, Naruto raised his eyes, and stared right into Sakura's orbs.
"Naruto, we need to tell you something."
Long minutes later both Sakura and Shizune abandoned the room, leaving Naruto alone with his thoughts. Although both girls wanted to spend some more time with him, both of them knew they had to inform everyone else about Naruto's recovery. Not only that but both of them were also aware that Naruto deserved to have a few minutes in piece before everyone went to check on him.
As he heard Sakura and Shizune's footsteps fading away, Naruto looked down at his hands, and closed them into fists as he mentally forced himself to overlook the pain he was feeling. Ignoring the way his back was aching since Sakura had allowed him to sit properly on the bed, Naruto focused his attention on what Sakura had just told him.
"Hinata-san is in a coma, Naruto. That means she's in a profound state of unconsciousness. Hinata-san cannot be awakened. Also, she does not respond to pain or light, she doesn't have sleep-wake cycles, and she doesn't take voluntary actions either. She's stable though, and investigations were performed to assess the underlying cause."
The cause, of course, had been Pain's attack against her.
"The good news is that comas generally last a few days to a few weeks. They rarely last more than two to five weeks, but I can't lie to you. Some comas lasted as long as several years. We do believe, however, that Hinata-san will gradually come out of the coma. When she does, although her recovery will be gradual, Hinata-san will be able to acquire more and more ability to respond. In the first days she will only be awake for a few minutes, but the duration of time awake will gradually increase."
It was pointless to admit that Naruto had felt slightly relieved at those words. However, the sense of something going wrong had forced him to ask about what could happen if Hinata did not wake up. Shizune had been the first to answer that question.
"We cannot lie to you. Some people do gradually come out of the state of coma, but some also progress to a vegetative state, and others die. Some patients who have entered a vegetative state go on to regain a degree of awareness. Others remain in a vegetative state for years and even decades."
Unconsciously, Naruto closed his hands into even tighter fists, and gritted his teeth. Even though he knew it was irrational to think that way, he simply could not help but say in his mind: Hinata is not going to die!
Ignoring the way his muscles protested at his sudden movements, Naruto threw the blanket off him, and slipped his legs off the bed. As he struggled not to groan at the pain that was slowly consuming his body, the young man stood up only to feel his legs tremble at the sudden weight.
"Damn it…" Naruto cursed when he noticed that his legs were refusing to cooperate. It felt as if his legs had become lethargic after spending one whole week in bed. "Damn it. I have to go to her."
After finding his balance, Naruto started dragging his feet towards the door. He did not care if he had to crawl all his way to Hinata's room; all he cared was about getting there, and see the Hyuuga heiress.
He just needed to see her!
After opening the door, Naruto stepped into the hallway only to see medical-nin rushing in every direction, some shouting orders as they went. For a second he just stood in the same spot, trying to process what was going on around him until Naruto decided to close the door of his room behind him.
Of course everyone was in a rush; their village needed them!
"Excuse me…" Naruto started when a kunoichi was just about to walk past him, completely ignoring his presence, and the woman turned to him only to widen her eyes in surprise, "Where's Hyuuga Hinata?"
"Hyuuga Hinata?" the woman repeated, and as he ignored her surprised expression, Naruto nodded. "She's upstairs. She has been placed in a private room under Hyuuga Hiashi's orders. I'm sure someone else will tell you the number of the room once you get there."
"Thank you." Naruto quickly said at same time he turned his back to the medical-nin, but he was forced to stop walking when a hand rested on his shoulder. Confusedly, Naruto looked behind him only to see that it had been the woman who had stopped him.
"You shouldn't be wandering around through the hospital."
"I need to see Hinata." Naruto answered back, his eyes darkening as he spoke, but the woman kept her hand on his shoulder for a few more minutes. When she finally dropped her arm, Naruto simply nodded at her before he started making his way towards the staircase.
It was only when he was about to reach the top of the stairs that someone else stopped him.
"What are you doing in here?" Ino inquired as she appeared in front of Naruto, her hands resting on her hips, and Naruto mentally sighed. Climbing the stairs had been quite wearing and he truly did not feel like wasting the rest of his energy in words. "You should be in bed!"
"Where's…Hinata?" Naruto asked as he rested his right hand on the wall next to him for support, and he saw a flash of concern cross Ino's eyes. "I know she's in a coma, but…I just need to see her…"
"Please…" the blond cut her off, and even though it took her a few seconds, Ino eventually nodded in silent understanding. With a wave, the medical-nin wordlessly informed him to follow her, which Naruto did in a very slow pace.
"Do you want me to help you?" Ino inquired as she looked worriedly at him, but Naruto simply shook his head. "You know, you really should be in bed. Hinata is being very well treated, and there's always someone with her. I think Shino is the one who's with her right now. We finally managed to convince Hanabi to go sleep for a few hours."
Naruto felt his heart skip a beat at those words.
"I don't think her father has come, though, which really isn't a surprise." Ino continued before she pressed her arms against her chest, "Neji was the one who spent most of his time in here. Hanabi actually had to use her influence on him to order him to go rest. I think Tenten was also of great help."
Everyone had been taking care of her…everyone except for him…
"Here we are." Ino declared as she stopped next to a closed door, and Naruto mimicked her actions. "Let's see if Shino actually accepts to leave for a few minutes."
Naruto only nodded faintly at that as he watched Ino opening the door, and walk inside. Slowly, he followed her only to stop his tracks when his eyes fell on the single bed that was occupying that room. He did not even register the figure that was sitting next to the bed, nor did he notice when Ino started talking with Shino.
All that mattered to him was the quiet figure that was under the blankets.
Then, the memories of what had happened the week before emerged from the depths of his mind.
"What are you doing here?! Get out of here! You're no match—"
Heavens, she had known! She had known that she was no match against Pain, and yet…and yet…
"I'm…just being selfish…"
"What are you talking about?! What're you doing here?! It's dangerous!"
"…I'm here of my own free will."
Ignoring the fact that Ino and Shino were still in the room, Naruto shifted closer to the bed, his eyes locked with Hinata's face. She looked so peaceful, and her hair contrasted greatly with her fair complexion and with the white bandage that was covering her left eye.
Good heavens, she had been willing to give up her life just for him…just to make sure he lived…
Reflexively, Naruto raised his right hand, and moved his fingers closer to Hinata's own hand when he reached her side. He vaguely heard the door being opened and closed since all of his senses were locked with the sleeping young woman in front of him.
She had told him…she had confessed her feelings to him…feelings he had never noticed… Yes, Hinata had once told him that she considered him a proud man who did a lot of mistakes, and that whenever she looked at him she would feel an impact on her heart, but Naruto had never thought she was indirectly telling him she loved him.
In fact, such thought had never crossed his mind…
…And yet there he was now, staring at the face of the woman who had thrown herself at death because of her feelings for him…
"Hinata…" Naruto whispered as he hesitantly rested his hand on top of hers, his eyes never leaving her face, "Wake up…please…I have so many things I need to ask you…Please…"
Another week passed ever since Naruto had seen Hinata for the first time since Pain's attack. Since he had no memory of what had happened after Pain had attacked Hinata, Naruto had been forced to ask Sakura about it. And accordingly to his friend, he had allowed for the power of the fox to control him, and had attacked Pain moments later.
On the meantime, the Yamanaka Clan along with the Nara Clan had found Pain's hiding place, and had fought against Konan. Unfortunately since Sakura did not know much about what happened afterwards, she had been unable to offer him many details about that fight. However, regardless of that, Sakura still managed to tell him one very important thing; he had been able to destroy Pain's last body while under the fox's influence.
…He had had six tails at the time, and Naruto could still see Sakura shivering slightly as she recalled his power.
"Naruto," a voice called-out, and the young man looked away from the window next to him only to watch as Tsunade, the Fifth Hokage walked inside his room. Sakura had also told him that Tsunade had required lots of rest and tranquillity in order to recover. Thankfully she had managed to survive to the war against Pain, and she was now in command once again.
"Hiashi refuses to let you see Hinata," Tsunade announced, and Naruto focused his attention on the window again at those words, "I cannot let you continue to go see her after nightfall. We cannot risk him finding out about those meetings."
"Why?" Naruto inquired as he continued staring at the sky, his voice carrying no sign of anger, "It's not as if he cares about what's going on. All he wants is for Hinata to wake up so that he can torture her for being unable to win against Pain."
"That's not true. He is extremely worried about her condition; he simply does not know how to express himself." Tsunade answered back, and Naruto had to stop himself from rolling his eyes. "He says that you're to blame…that you are the responsible for what happened, and that he cannot allow you to see his daughter."
"You can't stop me from seeing Hinata." Naruto stated after a few seconds, and Tsunade crossed her arms against her chest. Slowly, the boy looked at her, "I need to see her. I don't care if she's in a coma or not. I need to be with her."
"Please, Tsunade-baachan. I will deal with her father if he finds out, but please let me continue to visit her after nightfall." Naruto pleaded, and the Fifth Hokage pressed her arms harder against her chest when she noticed the expression on his face.
"Naruto, I…if you promise me you won't do anything foolish then…" Tsunade paused for a moment, and sighed, "I am going to allow you to continue seeing Hinata. However, you cannot stay more than five minutes with her. I do not want to have problems with the Hyuuga Clan, especially now that we need as many help as we can get."
Tsunade felt her heart squeeze at those whispered words, and wondered about where the loudmouth boy she had met before was. Yes, if there was someone in Konohagakure that had every right to be depressed that would be Naruto, but not even Jiraiya or Kakashi's s death had affected him as much as Hinata's coma had.
In fact, Tsunade had expected to see Naruto worrying about Hinata, but not that much. The condition of the heiress of the Hyuuga Clan was troubling Naruto so much that the boy would occasionally forget about eating or about doing his physiotherapeutic exercises.
She wondered about what could have possibly happened between the two of them to change Naruto that much.
"Can I go see her now?" Naruto inquired all of a sudden, and Tsunade snapped from her thoughts. He looked so broken… She did not recall ever seeing him like that not even when Sasuke had abandoned them…
"Only if Neji accepts to leave," Tsunade replied, and the blond nodded in silent understanding before he stood up from the bed. After a few days in the hospital, Naruto had requested for his own clothes since he did not like wearing the patient's gown. "Be sure you're back in five minutes or I'll be forced to go and get you myself."
"Yeah, don't worry." Naruto reassured her, a faint grin on his face, and Tsunade felt her heart skip a beat at his smile. Even though he was physically and emotionally drained, he was still trying to show her that there was no need for her to worry about him.
"Naruto…" Tsunade called out as she turned around, and stared at the boy's back. Slowly, Naruto looked over his shoulder in confusion, and the Godaime patted him on the shoulder, "Hinata's strong. I'm sure she'll wake up soon."
Nodding, Naruto smiled faintly at her one last time before he started making his way towards the staircase. As she stood by the door, Tsunade watched him disappear through the stairs, her arms crossed against her chest again.
The fact that he was moving around, struggling to support his friends no matter what were all she needed to be sure that he was ready to surmount his oldest dream.
On the meantime, Naruto made his way to Hinata's room only to stop when his eyes finally fell on the door he needed to open. He knew that it was selfish of him, but he simply could not help but wonder if behind that door was an awaked Hinata. So far the young woman had yet to respond to pain or light, and accordingly to Sakura, Hinata still did not have sleep-wake cycles nor did she take voluntary actions either.
Uncertainly, Naruto rested his hand on the doorknob, but stopped as he stared down at his fingers. Thanks to the power of the Nine-Tail, he had managed to get better in a matter of days. During his childhood, Naruto had found that awesome, but now he could not help but be repulsed by it.
After all, that power only worked on him. What was the point in him getting better without doing anything about it while his friends had to suffer until they were cured?
"You changed me. Your smile saved me."
Naruto closed his eyes when Hinata's voice echoed through his mind, and he took a deep breath. Her words were what were leading him to gradually smile at his friends. It hurt him to do it, and he knew that many did not understand why he actually dared to smile after everything that had happened, but Naruto guessed that was the only thing he could do.
He could not forget how to smile for that was the only thing he would be able to do when facing a wide-awake Hinata.
Without wanting to waste anymore time, Naruto opened the door, but before he could move, Neji appeared in front of him. He looked troubled, Naruto quickly noticed, but everything faded away when Neji spoke up.
"Downstairs," Naruto answered when he noticed the note of urgency in his friend's voice, "Did something happen?"
"Hinata-sama…" Neji started, and Naruto felt his heart squeeze at the name, "Her eyebrow twitched when I turned the lights on."
Without bothering to explain anything else, Neji practically run past him, leaving a dumbfounded Naruto standing by the door. After a few seconds just staring into space, Naruto snapped from his thoughts and rushed inside the room only to stop when he reached Hinata's side.
"H-Hinata?" Naruto called out, a hopeful note on his voice, and he automatically grasped the girl's hand, "Hinata, can you hear me?"
There was no answer to his question. Not a groan, nor a twitch. Nothing… For a short period of time, Naruto just stared at Hinata's face, his heart now beating in full speed while his blood seemed to be carrying nervousness to all of his body.
"We do believe, however, that Hinata-san will gradually come out of the coma. When she does, although her recovery will be gradual, Hinata-san will be able to acquire more and more ability to respond. In the first days she will only be awake for a few minutes, but the duration of time awake will gradually increase."
Oh heavens, was she really coming out of the coma? Or had Neji simply imagined her twitch? No, Neji would never make such mistake, and Naruto was positive of that. Neji would never joke about such thing either, but then…but then why did she not react to him?
"Hinata…" Naruto called again, and he unconsciously raised his left hand, and touched the girl's cheek with the tip of his fingers. "C'mon…wake up …"
"Naruto let me see her." Tsunade voice came out from behind him, and the boy promptly stepped to his side, and allowed for the Hokage to approach Hinata's side.
"Hinata, can you hear me?" the woman asked as she started checking the girl's vitals with a solemn expression on her face. When nothing happened, Tsunade turned to Naruto, "Come to her side, and talk to her."
Immediately, Naruto nodded, and rushed to Hinata's side only to freeze when he stared down at her pale face. What could he say?
"Naruto, talk to her!" Tsunade ordered as she grabbed Hinata's left hand, and the boy glanced at her before nodding. Then, he focused his attention on the heiress' face, and cleared his throat before he grasped Hinata's right hand.
"Hey, Hinata, can you hear me?" Naruto asked only to glance to his side when Neji appeared next to him, "Listen, if you can hear me, you have to do something. Your cousin is right here with me, and he's worried sick about you."
"Keep going." Tsunade instructed, and Naruto gazed at her before he looked down at the sleeping girl again.
"In fact, everybody's worried sick about you." the blond rephrased his comment, "Even your father. Did you know that he…that he forbade me of seeing you? I bet he did it because he holds me responsible for what happened to you, but then again…" Naruto paused, "Well, I am responsible for what happened to you…"
Swiftly, Tsunade reached out for Hinata's elbow and flexed it. Immediately, Hinata withdrew her elbow away in pain, but Naruto ignored all that as he continued staring at the girl's face.
"If I could go back in time…heavens, if only I could stop you from doing what you did…" Naruto started to whisper as he unconsciously moved his head closer to Hinata's, "Heavens, if only I could have moved…"
"No…blame…" Hinata groaned, and everyone turned to her in time to see her eyes opening slightly as she spoke. Widening his eyes in surprise, Naruto straightened himself instantly while Neji shifted even closer to the bed.
"H-Hinata?" Naruto whispered at same time Neji let out a faint 'Hinata-sama'. Without thinking, Naruto reached out for the girl's hand, and entwined his fingers with hers. "Hinata, can you hear me?"
"Y-Yes…" the answer was weak, and everyone had involuntarily held their breath when they saw her lips moving. However, after she uttered those words, Hinata went silent, and her eyes closed seconds later.
"Hinata!" Naruto shouted at same time Neji exclaimed his cousin's name, and it was then that Tsunade turned to them.
"Quiet, she fell asleep." the Hokage pointed out as she finally released Hinata's arm, and the two young men turned to her. "And before you ask, I'll tell you about her condition. The grade of Hinata's eye response is three out of four because she opened her eyes when answering to Naruto. Her verbal response is four out of five, because even though she responded to Naruto, I am sure she will suffer of some disorientation when she wakes up again. As for Hinata's motor response is four out of six since she withdrew to pain when I flexed her elbow."
"What…what does that mean?" Naruto inquired as he titled his head slightly to the side, and Tsunade rested her hands on her hips.
"The grades go from the most severe to the least severe, being one the most severe, and I am forced to admit Hinata actually surprised me," the Hokage explained, "Before she was comatose, and could not be aroused, and there was also no response to stimuli. Now, she is in a level of consciousness called stuporous. In other words, Hinata is in a sleep-like state, not unconscious, and has little to no spontaneous activity."
"Oh, but…she answered me…" Naruto pointed out, and Tsunade nodded.
"I'm sure that in a matter of days Hinata alertness will increase, along with her psychomotor responses." she continued, "Then, with work and exercises, her level of consciousness will finally return to normal."
"Then…she's going to be okay?" Neji asked before Naruto could think of something to say, and Tsunade turned to him before nodding.
"I will make sure she does."
Silently, Naruto focused his attention on Hinata's face, and squeezed her hand as he stared at her closed eyes. He did not care if it would take her weeks to get better; he was going to stay by her side until the end.
"Naruto, don't forget to eat!" Sakura scolded as she watched the blond walk behind her as he made his way towards the staircase. Grinning, Naruto simply waved at her before he started climbing up the stairs only to wave again when Tenten and Neji walked past her.
Even though everyone was aware of Hiashi's order to stop Naruto from getting close to his oldest daughter, the truth was that no one had the heart to follow that command. Not even Neji had said something against it, especially since he had witnessed how Hinata had reacted to Naruto's presence and voice.
It was quite upsetting sometimes, how everyone had to keep their eyes and ears sharp in case Hyuuga Hiashi appeared at the hospital, but they still did it regardless of everything. After all, everyone who knew Hinata could not help but wish for the girl's recuperation...even if that meant going against the Head of the Hyuuga Clan.
With a faint smile on his lips, Naruto knocked on the door of Hinata's room before he twisted the doorknob. As he pushed the door open, Naruto glanced inside only to feel all anxiety evaporate from his shoulders when one pallid lavender eye turned to him.
"Hey!" he exclaimed as he waved in salutation, but Hinata simply looked down, her hair covering her face. With light steps, Naruto approached the bed, and sat down on the stool next to it. "Tsunade-baachan told me your progress has been pretty much miraculous. How are you feeling today?"
Silence was all that answered him, and Naruto titled his head to the side in an attempt to have a better look of the girl's face. Despite of her dark tresses, he still managed to spot her reddish cheeks, and despite of everything, he felt his own cheeks growing hotter.
"I…hum…anyway, Tsunade-baachan said that your eye and motor response is now grade four and six respectively." Naruto tried to say as he straightened his back, and tried to hide his own blush. "And err…she said that since you answered all of her questions correctly you finally reached grade five in verbal response. Isn't that great?"
"Y-Yes…" Hinata mumbled still without raising her head, and Naruto stared at her long locks before he let out an inaudible sigh. Then, before he could stop himself, the young man reached out for Hinata's hand, but he stopped moving when Hinata suddenly gasped, and shifted her hand away.
One pallid orb found his eyes almost instantly, and for a long time the two young adults just stared at one another.
"Oh, hum…I'm sorry…" Naruto apologized, and he raised a hand, and scratched the back of his head. "I guess it's better if I just go. Your father will probably show up soon, and I don't really want to cause you any trouble so…"
As he started laughing tensely, Naruto stood up, and slowly dropped his arm.
"If you don't mind, I'd like to come here tomorrow for a minute, just to see if you're all right." he continued before quickly adding, "If you don't mind that is."
When Hinata simply glanced down again, her hands clasped in front of her, Naruto looked away. Ever since Hinata had woken up, and started responding to every question and statement, that silence was the only thing that linked them whenever Naruto appeared for a visit. No matter how hard he tried to start a conversation, Hinata would either answer him with monosyllables or simply look away, most of the time in cheer awkwardness.
During the first days, Naruto did his best to take no notice of her behaviour since he had been too excited about seeing her awake, but now he was growing tired of it. He wanted to talk to her…he wanted to ask her about things…he wanted to help her achieving one of her dreams…
"I was always watching you…wanting to overtake you… I just wanted to talk to you…I wanted to be with you."
"You know, I remember you saying that you have always watched me." Naruto started before he could restrain himself from speaking, but Hinata kept her eye locked with her hands, "I remember you saying that you wanted to talk to me, and you know…I want to do the same. I really want to talk to you too, but…how am I supposed to do that when you even refuse to look at me?"
His tone was not angry, but fatigued, which expressed his feelings flawlessly.
When Hinata did not say anything, Naruto took a deep breath, and scratched the top of his head.
"Sorry, I didn't mean to be rude, but…" the boy paused for a moment, and glanced at Hinata's head again, "I guess I better go."
With that said, Naruto turned around on his heels, but when he was just about to give one step forward, a hand grasped the back of his jacket. Instantaneously, Naruto looked over his shoulder only to notice that Hinata was still looking down while she continued grasping his jacket.
"I…" the heiress of the Hyuuga Clan started in a feeble and little voice, and Naruto was about to turn around only to notice that he could not. At least, he would be unable to do so until Hinata decided to release him. "When I…I remember what happened, I…"
Once again, Naruto felt his cheeks growing warmer since he knew about what she was referring too. Clearing his throat, he reached out for Hinata's hand, and mentally breathed in relief when she did not jerk away when he closed his fingers around her wrist.
"Hinata, I have something to tell you." Naruto started as he gradually turned to her, still holding the girl's wrist, and Hinata timidly raised her head to gaze at him. "I…well I actually…I'm not going to lie to you, I...err…I also remember what you told me before you attacked Pain, and…well..."
Naruto quieted down as he started feeling too embarrassed to continue. Hinata was still looking at him, and since it seemed that she had no intentions to break the eye-contact, Naruto forced himself to control his blush.
"You changed me. Your smile saved me. So I'm not afraid to die protecting you. Because I…love you."
"I…I have to admit I never noticed your…err…feelings for me." Naruto managed to continue, and he felt his heart skip a beat when a dark shade of red conquered Hinata's pale cheeks. "Unfortunately, I…"
"You…like Sakura-san…right?" Hinata interrupted him still in the same tone of voice, and Naruto blinked at that before he sat down on the stool again. It was curious, but both of them had yet to notice that Naruto was still holding her hand.
"I hum…actually, I haven't thought much about that for quite some time." Naruto admitted with a nervous laugh, and Hinata dropped her gaze as he spoke. "Well, I can't really say that my crush has disappeared, but…I guess I'll have to say I haven't thought about asking Sakura to go out with me for a while. Does that mean I don't like her like I used to?"
When Hinata did not reply, Naruto decided to continue.
"Anyway, err…the thing is that ever since I woke up, I have been thinking about what you said. I really feel bad for never noticing what you felt for me, but hum…" Naruto's cheeks turned a bright shade of red as he stumbled on his words, "I really need to tell you that I…"
When he paused Hinata glanced at him, and Naruto cleared his throat.
"I don't really know what love is."
Once again, stillness surrounded him, and it did not take long for Naruto to mentally kick himself. 'I don't really know what love is'? What kind of thing was that? Hinata was most likely going to start pitying him now, and then…
"We…" Hinata slowly started, and Naruto snapped from his thoughts only to observe the way she was now cautiously staring at him. "I-I mean…in case you're interested, we could…I mean…"
Unconsciously, the heiress squeezed Naruto's hand, and the two young adults stared down at their joined hands only to blush when they noticed their entwined fingers. Once side of Naruto was ordering him to let go of Hinata's hand, but the other side of him kept reassuring him that it was all right.
And since Hinata did not look troubled by it, Naruto guessed that it did not hurt to continue holding her hand.
"What were you saying?" Naruto asked as he looked at Hinata's eye again, and the girl looked up from their joined hands only to smile uneasily at him.
"I...hum…I was thinking, and…" Hinata bit her lower lip in nervousness, and Naruto could not help but glance at her pinkish cheeks as she struggled to say something. "Would you like to…find out more about love together? I-I mean…we could do it slowly and…"
"I don't know." Naruto interrupted her, a serious expression now on his face, "I really want to get to know you, but I don't want to hurt you. What if I end up finding out that I still like Sakura-chan?"
"That will be all right." Hinata answered, and Naruto blinked at her frank tone. "I just…When I told you that I loved you, I…I did it because I thought I was going to die, and…I-I thought it was only fair to tell you about my feelings, and…"
"Now that you mention that, you weren't fair." Naruto pointed out all of a sudden, and now it was Hinata's turn to blink in confusion. "You told me your feelings, and then charged at Pain. You didn't even let me process what was going on."
Hinata looked down at his statement, and Naruto let out a sigh before he squeezed her hand.
"But I guess we could give it a try." he started, but Hinata still kept her eye focused on the sheet that was covering her from her waist down. "I mean…we already lost a couple of weeks, and…I can't really forget how I felt when I thought you had…well, died."
Cautiously, Hinata turned her head towards him, and once again their eyes met. When he saw the look on her face, Naruto grinned faintly at her.
"Besides, I kind of have to smile at you more often, and the only way I can do that is by staying close to you." he continued, and he could not help but chuckle when Hinata's face turned a bright shade of red at his observation. "So, what do you say, Hinata? Are you sure you want to find out more about me?"
Hinata widened her eye in surprise at that question, but Naruto simply continued smiling at her. To be honest, he was really interested about learning more about the Hyuuga heiress. He wanted to know more about her likes, dislikes, interests and fears, and frankly the only way he could do that would be by staying by her side no matter what.
"Yes!" Hinata finally gasped, and Naruto blinked at her timid response, "I-I would like that."
"Great!" Naruto exclaimed, but before something else could be said, the door of the room was opened only to reveal Hyuuga Neji.
"Naruto, you have to leave." the member of the Hyuuga Branch Family ordered, his eyes hard as steel, "Hiashi-sama is approaching the hospital. If you don't want to cause any troubles to Hinata-sama, then I suggest you to leave at once."
"Oh, I forgot I do have a reason to stay away from you once in a while." Naruto commented as he turned to Hinata, and smiled sheepishly at her, "Sorry about that. But I promise I'll return as soon as your father leaves."
"I-I…" Hinata started as Naruto stood up from the stool, and released her hand, but when the boy stopped to stare at her, the girl blushed faintly, "Thank you…Naruto-kun."
"Ah, you're welcome." Naruto replied, and before he could stop himself, he moved forward, and kissed Hinata on the forehead. "I'll see you later, Hinata!"
With those words, Naruto walked away from the room, avoiding bumping into Neji as he stepped into the hallway. When the blond finally started climbing down the stairs, and thus disappearing from sight, Neji glanced at Hinata, only to notice that his cousin had pretty much frozen in time due to what happened.
"Hinata-sama," Neji started as he stepped inside, and closed the door behind him, "I advise you not to faint. A sudden loss of consciousness would not be good to your health, and it would only give your father reasons to ponder about the possibility of Naruto visiting you while he's not present."
"Neji-nii-san…" Hinata started as she slowly turned her head to him, but the young man simply crossed his arms against his chest when he finally reached the end of the bed, "Do you think…do you think Naruto-kun will…like me…one day?"
"Do not ask me such things." Neji answered a tad too harshly, but when Hinata looked down, he let out an inaudible mouthful of air, "But…" Hinata timidly gazed at him at that word, "maybe in the future…although I cannot assure you of such thing, there may be some confessions of the heart."
I know! I know the ending sucks, but good heavens, I wrote sixteen pages! Sixteen! I have never written a one-shot this long! I just hope it did not suck big time. I just felt like writing something like this after I read the latest chapter, like I told you at the beginning.
Anyway, thank you for reading Confessions of the Heart! Sorry if at the end this proven to be quite ridiculous. I swear I did not mean to make you waste your time with my silliness.