The explosion of noise was deafening.
The lions paraded and danced around the cleared area surrounded by an enthusiastic crowd, lifting their large, heavy heads, batting their large eyelashes, and jumping rhythmically to the beat of the pounding drums. The men beneath the lions could almost be heard laughing along with the audience if one were close enough as they kicked, leapt, and lifted.
"Look at him! Look at the one at front under the orange one!" Sakura elbowed Ino in the ribs and pointed excitedly. "Check out the biceps." She mimed a swooning action and placed the back of her hand on her forehead.
"Pfft. The orange one? No way! Second to front of the yellow one is definitely the way to go. Now, that one has both the face and the body." Ino clamped her hands together beneath her chin and batted her long eyelashes while gushing, "I'd like to take him home tonight."
"So his nose is a little long, but he is still a way better catch that the yellow one." Sakura snorted and flipped her short pink hair back behind her shoulder.
"You're kidding me, right? Let's ask Hinata, I'm sure she has some good taste, at least." The blonde turned around to face the pale, lavender eyed girl who gave a startled jump at the sudden attention directed towards her.
"U-uh...I, um..." She looked nervously between the two expectant girls and quickly pointed out to the dancing lions. "Look! They added in another one! The red one."
Another lion danced out into the clearing from amidst the sea of people in a proud strut, taunting the other lions by dancing circles around the other two before quickly pulling back to wag its head at the audience that cheered back zealously. Jumping up onto a crate, the person acting as the head pushed the heavy object high above his head to entice the audience, "Welcome to the annual Konoha spring festival!"
"He kinda looks like you, Ino..." Sakura whispered in her friend's ear and received a smack on the back of her head in return as the crowd erupted with cheers.
Hinata couldn't help but agree with Sakura as she watched the man on the crate look around the audience with a grin on his face. His blond hair was long but half tied up, and a single blue eye sparkled, while the other one was hidden by long bangs. The single eye scanned the crowd, finally landing on Hinata who widened her eyes in surprise and couldn't help but let a blush cross her cheeks as he continued to stare at her, his grin widening to its maximum. Hinata stared back, her mouth hanging open slightly as he winked at her before jumping down with his group from the crates to continue their dancing.
"Oh, my god!" Sakura screeched and clutched onto the other two girls excitedly. "Oh, my god! He just winked at me!" She squealed and clutched a painful notch tighter.
"What the hell are you talking about?" Ino snapped and clutched onto Hinata who was rubbing her other bruised shoulder that Sakura had just let go of and gave a pained yelp as Ino's nails dug through her yukata and into her skin. "He obviously winked at me."
Hinata deflated slightly underneath her grip and realized the truth in this. Next to Ino and Sakura, two almost illegally gorgeous girls, Hinata was the dirt on the bottom of their shoes. Obviously, the young man (with admittedly impressive arm and chest muscles—neither too large nor too small, but perhaps lean would've been the perfect word) would not be winking at her, Hinata, but at the two said girls on either side of her.
The drums suddenly quickened their beat into a steady drum roll as the red lion tossed off its costume to reveal the man who winked at Sakura and Ino and two other men behind him who acted as the lion's body.
"Hello, there, fine people of Konoha!" The man grinned and waved. "I'm glad you enjoyed out performance so much!" The crowd whistled and cheered in response.
"Wow, for looking so much like he could pass as your brother...he's actually quite attractive." Sakura murmured over to Ino who nodded vigorously.
"His muscles are definitely the best."
"Finally something we can agree on." Sakura sighed and watched as he continued talking with the crowd with much fervour.
"Now, we need three volunteers to be contestants to be the princess of this festival. Don't be shy! Winner gets two free tickets to our newest and agreed to be the swankiest restaurant here in Konoha." He winked at the audience and chuckled, "Don't be shy to ask me if you happen to be missing a date."
"Oh..." Sakura sighed and leaned against Hinata. "I would so take him to dinner."
Hinata merely chuckled in reply as she watched the man turn around in a circle to stare at the audience, "Come on! Any volunteers?"
Hands flew up in the air as girls fought amongst each other to be first spotted by the highly amused looking young man. Sakura elbowed Ino in the back as the blonde had stepped in front of her, arms waving eagerly. "Outta my way, Ino-pig! There's no way they'd ever chose you anyways."
"First contestant will be...you! Right there with the pigtails!" The young blond man motioned a girl opposite from the three girls in the circle clearing to join him in the centre of the stage.
"Like you can talk, Billboard-Brow! They'd take one look at your mammoth forehead and run screaming in the other direction!" Ino gave the girl a hard push and continued to wave fervently.
"One look at you and your upturned nose and they'd call the butcher!" Sakura screeched and gave Ino a push back.
"And you! With the green yukata!" The announcer called yet another girl up to the front. "Only one more girl left, it seems." He surveyed the crowd some more, watching as girls grew more loud and violent.
"Look! They're calling the last girl!" Ino gave a violent push to Sakura who ended up staggering into a man behind her and flapped her arm harder.
"G-guys, you're hurting other people around you," Hinata quickly stepped between them. "Don't—"
Another push from Sakura directed to Ino sent Hinata stumbling far into the clearing made for the lion dancers. With a look of absolute horror, she stood up properly and began to quickly shuffle back into the crowd with the hope of not being noticed.
"You! Right there! With the white yukata!" The announcer's hand suddenly appeared around hers as he gave a quick tug to pull her back into the circle. "We have our final contestant it seems!"
"N-no, please—" Hinata whispered to him and gripped his arm. "I...I don't want to be a contestant!"
He turned around to face her, a fleeting look of surprise across his face before giving way to a small grin. "Don't worry," He bent over to whisper lightly against her ear. "All you really have to do is stand there and look pretty." He tilted his head to the side before winking at her once more and gently pulling her up next to the other two girls. "And I see you don't really have much of a problem with that."
"Wh-what is that supposed to mean?" She gasped and unconsciously tightened her grip on his hand.
"It means," He glanced down at their clasped hands and chuckled as Hinata quickly wrenched her hand out of his to wring it in the other one of hers. "I think that you're very pretty." He turned back to the audience, suppressing laughter at the sight of Hinata's shamelessly open mouth.
"Now, these three lovely contestants will tell us why each one should be princess of Konoha's spring festival." He then prompted the first girl to give her name and why she should be given the title of princess.
Hinata stood frozen as too many thoughts raced across her chaotic mind. Stand here? Stand here looking pretty? No more grabbing strangers' hands. Shut your open mouth. What is that girl going on about? She's prattling; nobody's listening anymore. Wait, she had to do this too? Public speaking?
Taking two clumsy steps back in her attempted getaway, her plan was foiled as two large hands grasped her shoulders firmly. "Now, where do you think you're going, Miss Pretty?"
She turned her gaze around wildly to face the blond man who was holding her fast against him. "I-I can't do public sp-speaking! I...I just can't!"
"Now, you know they say that the best way to get rid of a fear is to face it, right?" His grip, sadly, was not loosening at all. "Just say what comes honestly. Oops. Looks like you're next." He chuckled and let go of her shoulders to stand beside her. Sure enough, both girls had finished and the audience was now staring at Hinata expectantly.
"Now, you, Miss Pretty-in-White-Yukata, tell us your name and why you deserve to be the princess of Konoha festival." The announcer grinned at her cheekily and gave her a gentle nudge forward.
If Hinata was the type of person to send dirty looks, the announcer would have been filthy by the time she was finished glaring at him. Instead, she gave him a subtle frown and stared at the audience while biting her lip nervously. Clearing her throat, she began, "U-um, I'm Hinata Hyuuga..."
"Talk louder!" Someone in the audience yelled obnoxiously. "Nobody can hear you!"
Hinata swallowed anxiously and took an unsteady step back, only to have her shoulders enclosed yet again by the announcer's firm yet gentle grip. Taking an unsteady breath, she looked back pleadingly at him, only to receive a small encouraging grin back from him.
Turning back to the crowd, Hinata took a small step forward and began in a louder voice. "I'm Hinata Hyuuga, and why sh-should I be given th-the title of princess? U-um...." She wasn't sure why she kept looked back at the announcer for support instead of searching the crowd for Sakura and Ino, but somehow, it made her feel just a little more secure.
Sighing, she looked at the audience and said, "Honestly? I-I've done nothing to deserve this. I w-was chosen randomly out o-of a crowd, not even trying to get picked, and...and..." She gave a small helpless whimper. "And really, I-I think that although b-being the princess would be a g-great honour, it's one o-of these girls right here that deserves i-it." She stood there amidst the quiet crowd and scuttled back behind the announcer.
"Well, that was... sincere." The announcer chuckled and looked around at the audience. "So, we'll do a quick vote that's decided by the loudest applause as to who deserves to be princess of this festival, alright?"
There was a small smattering of applause in agreement as he stood next to the first contestant and raised his hand over her head to receive a wild applause in response. He then walked over to the next girl and repeated the motion to receive a less enthusiastic, but loud nonetheless, reaction from the crowd.
"And finally, Ms. Hyuuga right here," He raised his hand and an almost deafening roar of applause was heard and the announcer grinned and gripped her hand to raise it high above them. "Well, I see that our new princess of our festival will by Ms. Hinata Hyuuga!"
"Wh-what?" She stammered and gripped his hand tightly with both of her hands. "Why?"
"Pfft." He snorted and murmured to her, "Did you even listen to the other girls prattle on about how, 'They would represent Konoha in all its glory' or my personal favourite, 'If a map of Konoha was turned into a real person, it would like me.'" He snorted in a way that sounded less like a pig than a strangled chuckle. "Really, there was hardly a contest. Between the factors of your stark honest answer and you're prettier than both of them combined, you were the definite winner."
He merely grinned at her and turned to one of the other lion dancers who came up to Hinata to present to her a single white lily and the two passes to the restaurant. The man handed her both of these before whispering into her ear, "What usually happens is the princess takes the flower and prize, thanks the audience with a smile and gives this year's prince a kiss."
"Wh-who's that?" She called out to the retreating man who was already too far out of range to hear.
"That," The announcer grinned and lightly pried off Hinata's tight grip on his fingers. "Would be me."
"Oh." Was all that Hinata managed to say before she was gently turned towards the audience by the announcer. Smiling shyly to the audience and catching the eye of Sakura and Ino who were cheering louder than anyone in the audience while giving her the thumbs up, she called out in her clearest voice, "Thank you!"
Turning tentatively to the announcer who grinned at her, she murmured, "Tradition i-is tradition, isn't it?"
"Indeed it is." He turned his cheek for her expectantly and grinned as she blushed before going onto her tiptoes to lightly brush her lips across a portion of his cheek that was dangerously close to his mouth.
He returned the kiss with a quick peck to her nose that sent the audience into a cacophony of cat calls and cheers. Turning back to the audience, he shouted, "Let's welcome the new princess of Konoha's festival!"
The drums began their heavy beating again as the lions circled the two in a blur of bright colours, legs, and shapes. Soon, the lions scattered from the circle around the two to resume their fierce dancing.
And the two were gone.
"Is...is it customary for the prince and princess to e-escape the crowd from beneath the lions?" Hinata chuckled breathlessly and took out the pin that kept her hair up in an elaborate knot and was falling out of her hair before shaking her long mane of hair.
"Naw." The former prince of the festival grinned before offering his arm out to the princess to take hold of. "Just thought we'd change it up this year a bit."
She just smiled and followed his aimless wandering throughout the aisles of stalls through the festival. "So, what is y-your name, Sir Prince of the Festival?"
"Deidara is my name, milady." He gave her a courteous bow of the head to which she returned with a minor curtsy.
"Please to m-make your acquaintance." She said with a voice not much louder than a whisper. Looking up into his one clear blue eye and remembering the wink he gave her friends, she asked, "Just out of c-curiosity, was it Ino or S-Sakura that you winked at?"
"Who?" He asked absently as he took a quick, sweeping glance of their surroundings.
"My friends. The blonde and the girl with pink hair I was standing next to." She fiddled with strands of her hair and wondered if the question seemed as jealous to him as it sounded to her.
He raised an eyebrow. "I winked at you, Ms. Pretty."
Her own eyebrows shot up as she blushed and bit her knuckle lightly. "O-oh."
"Goddamn." He clutched her fingers in his in a firm grip suddenly. "You are incredibly adorable. You make me just wanna bring you home and feed you."
An alarmed look crossed her face before Deidara sighed and rubbed his eye with his palm. "Shit. That came out creepier than I meant it to."
She laughed at this and smiled. "Well, I'm h-hungry. Let's find something t-to eat, okay?"
"Yeah." He beamed at her and led her way to a restaurant that wasn't so much a restaurant than a few tables outside around a window where one ordered food. Many lanterns hung above on strings and gave the restaurant a cheerful atmosphere.
They walked up to the window and gave their order to the plump and pleasant owner who boisterously claimed that neither prince nor princess of this festival would have to pay a thing for their meal. Hinata first protested vehemently, but was soon persuaded by both Deidara and the owner who insisted that she deserved it and it would make the owner feel unpleasantly guilty for making such a pretty girl pay for the meal (a comment at which she blushed heavily at).
It wasn't far along into the meal before couples began to get up into the centre of the courtyard to dance to the musicians that had taken out their instruments to play a lively song in which people swung around and spun frequently with smiles plastered across their faces. Some dances, however, were more wild and uncoordinated than others (a factor attributed to the amount of alcohol they had no doubt heartily consumed).
"Let's dance." Deidara suddenly stood up and held a hand out expectantly for her. "It'll be lots of fun, c'mon."
"I...I don't know how to dance this type of...dance." She looked over at the enthusiastic dancers and felt a tinge of longing towards the fun they seemed to be having.
"Not to worry. I happen to be an expert." He grinned and grabbed her hand before pulling her up onto her feet in a swift jerk of his arm, sending her tumbling into the firm grip of his other hand. He lightly placed a hand on her waist before placing her hand on his shoulder. "Now, let's begin."
He quickly spun her around and turned her with no particular rhythm or pattern, but whatever seemed to suit his desire. Clumsy steps were taken on Hinata's part as his own were too large and swift to keep up with herself.
"I th-thought that you were an expert." She laughed breathlessly and leaned into him in order to retain some semblance of balance.
"What? You're not impressed yet?" He waggled his eyebrows rakishly before spinning her out, then twirling her back into his arms. She landed clumsily with her hands clutching his cotton shirt close to her and his arms wrapped firmly around her small body. "How 'bout now?"
The crowd of couples who had made way for both Prince and Princess of the festival during their dancing clapped and laughed heartily. "Kiss him!" Someone in the crowd yelled and was followed by a chorus of similar requests.
Slightly distressed, she stared up at him with wide eyes. He gave a small quirk of the lips and shook his head lightly. "You really don't have to if you don't—"
He was cut short as she gave a quick press of her lips against the corner of his own that made the surrounding people wolf whistle and clap enthusiastically. She looked back down at her fingers in embarrassment that were clutching his shirt so hard that she was sure he would have to iron out the wrinkles in the morning and murmured, "Well, I j-just wanted to ask...um...uh, y-you see, I happen to h-have two tickets to a very nice restaurant and absolutely no one to take a-and—"
He grinned before he swept down to kiss her back; it wasn't soft or passionate, it was just...a kiss. Nonetheless, it made Hinata's toes tingle in a way that made her want to let her legs collapse beneath her.
"As the princess commands." He rumbled deeply against her ear before laughing softly.
Dateme contest again. ;D