"One more!" Asuma hazily shouts, pounding his hand on the surface of the table, making the glasses of mugs tinkle, "One more round!" his cheeks were carmine red, and his breath smelled of pressed grapes fermented with time. He gritted his teeth and tightened his grip on the glass mug that was half-full. Sitting in front of him was Ino, a sly smile playing across her lips. She, too, had smelt of lavish wine but nowhere near as red as Asuma. Clearly she had beaten him again in wine-drinking – for the third time.
Kurenai frowned as the crowd around the two competitors hollered in festive response. Shikamaru smirked as he took more wine from behind him, Chouji getting more glasses from the rack. We all continued from watching the sunrise at the cliff to the Inn, where a celebration is currently stirring. All of us are around the table where Asuma and Ino were drinking, shouting some encouragement for both of them.
"You can do it, Asuma!" Naruto cheered from behind him, his brows buried in determination. It was as if he was the one who was competing, what with all the focus he exerted. Asuma chuckled offhandedly, in false certainty that he'll "Surely win this time." Ino, on the other hand, was just as reserved as ever, her head stuck up in the air, thinking of the same thing.
Shikamaru and Chouji finished their preparation, and soon the fourth (and probably last, judging from Asuma's look) round of wine-drinking started. 12 glasses to drink, and he (or she?) who consumes everything first wins.
"Ready, set, GO!" Chouji hollered and both contestants started drinking. I took some more cookies from our table and ate while watching the two drink up everything on the table. Everybody's cheering so loud, except for my cousin Neji and Shino, and Kakashi, and some other more people, that adding my own voice wouldn't probably make a difference. I happily munched while I watch Ino defeat Asuma once again, sending everybody in frenzy shrieks.
"She wins! She wins!" Chouji barks, raising Ino's hand in triumph. Asuma slumped forward on the table, causing the glasses to fall and shatter on the floor, then rolled completely off the chair, and hit the ground. Kurenai and Tenten immediately rushed to his side as some laugh and lift him to sit him down.
"Oh just take him to our house, I'll get him fixed up," Kurenai said, waving her hand, and soon Naruto, Kiba, and Kankurou were half-dragging, half-carrying Asuma out of the bar. We laughed at this comical sight, and even with the glasses ruined and Ino beginning to get tipsy, we still had the joyous spirit. But everyone soon announced their going home after helping the bar owners clean up, and what a clean up with did. Every corner of the bar was sparkling. We all smiled and said goodbyes, leaving.
The wind had started going strong again as I made my way back up to my house. Sakura wasn't with me because Naruto had stolen her for some tea time at his house and I didn't let Gaara walk me home because I wouldn't want him walking back to the inn with the growing strength of the snow fall. I shivered in cold and tightened my jacket around me, walking as fast as I can to reach my house, because the wind had suddenly turned into a storm now, and if I hadn't had any shelter then I'd surely be floating literally yonder town.
Ino caught up with me, which gave me a little shiver, since she reeked of wine and I didn't feel like babysitting at the moment. But she insisted on spending some more time at their supermarket, showing me all kinds of brand new products they had. I wondered why she's doing this, as she's never done this to me at all, not even the weekly shopping on Monday afternoons, but then again, she isn't sober, is she?
I was feeling kind of pale and numb already when I reached the house. Ino sure did took a lot of time, making me reach home a little after dinner already. I turned the key to unlock my door after fumbling for them in my pocket, stomping on my boots as I did so to get the snow out. I slowly pushed open the door, smelled something funny, looked, and then gasped.
Candles. My mind automatically registers as the flames flickered and danced, casting some eerie shadows on the wall. There were also flowers in heaps, sitting in baskets, littered all over my floor. Flowers that I've never seen before, not even in my father's books, were all over my floor, their beautiful crystal-white petals bright under the spell of the candles. And the scent the flowers gave made me kind of dizzy at first, but then I noticed they strangely complement the scent the candles give out. I walked in further, opening just one light on the living room. It's dark already but I could see perfectly because of the candles; I just did it out of habit. I did not know if I should be glad or what. Of course this is something deemed romantic, but it was all too sudden for me. I didn't know who could've done something like this as I knew we were all at the Inn a while ago and I'm sure I haven't missed someone.
Just as I was about to sit down on the sofa, grateful for the warmth they provide, a knock came from my door. Who in the world…I started to question, as no one would dare venture in this kind of weather.
I walked to the entrance as more knocks came. I unfastened the door to open, and stood before me was a man, his face quite hidden in the shadows. Pale, cold skin glistening in the dim light of the candles from behind us, and his eyes – black and unnerving. His hands were gripping the same leather bag he carried the first time he was here.
I could see his smile even in the shadows. Humble, hazy, apologetic.
He was just standing there, waiting for me to bid him in. I didn't know what to do. The wind had furiously blown some of the candles near the door, and their smoke had given off a very calming scent.
"You let me in last time, exactly two years ago, you know," Sasuke said in an off-handed manner, his voice a little husky. I could imagine his lips cracking when he moved them, and, even though this was the same man who stood on my door three years ago, it feels quite different.
Back then I felt uncertainty, and confusion, thinking the pros and cons if I should let him in, the scandal that would happen to have a stranger upon my premises, but now... everything is dissolved in a mixture of hate, anguish, and wondering.
"C-come in." I said, defeated, and he did, still taking his sandals off.
I bolted the door shut and turned to him, when after a few moments there was another rap on my door. I looked at the door, then back at Sasuke again to assure myself that I did let him in, and seeing his calm demeanor, I quickly unfastened my door to see more people out in the cold. Sakura, Ino, Neji, Gaara, Shikamaru… wait, what? My closest friends crowded inside, entering without my permission.
"Ok, what have you got, wanderer?" Tenten asked, she and Ino, totally sober now, sitting at my sofa, while Sakura stood beside Naruto, who was standing near the dinner table. Sitting on one of the wooden dinner chairs were Neji, Kiba, and Gaara. Shikamaru stood lazily, his hands in his pockets, and Chouji was waltzing into my kitchen, looking for something to eat.
"It should have been a month ago," Ino commented, as if a conversation has started already and we're in the middle of it.
"So you have some stock already?" Naruto asked Ino, something along the lines of interest and curiosity in his eyes.
Ino shook her head, and answered with "Unfortunately we won't be having any stocks for the next six months, cause the weather is still bad and they say that stuff is getting rare already."
"What do you mean, like, manufacturers getting endangered or something?" Kiba asked, feeling a little bare and naked without his canine companion. I wonder where akamaru is, but most of all, I wonder what on earth they're talking about. I would have just asked, if they weren't so fast with their replies that I couldn't butt in at an unruffled way.
"Well if you call them that," Ino answered, leaving Naruto in a frown.
"But you do have them, do you?" Kiba asked Sasuke, who was standing within the circle we made. He smiled and nodded, his cheeks flushed from the mixture of heat and cold.
"Well good thing, after all the efforts we did on these flowers and candles," Kiba replied, leaning back on the chair.
"I should price you for the information you kept asking two years ago," Ino announced in a stern way.
"Oh come on, what are friends for?" Sasuke smirked back, and no one argues with Sasuke when he's smiling.
Sakura raised her brow, then shook her head.
"So there wouldn't be any... that's definitely sad news, but," she dramatically looked at the now half-lit burning candles and the flowers among us, "but let's not mind that for now." With the emphasis on the last two words, looking at Sasuke. With this the others either cleared their throats of shifted their seats, as if giving a cue or something. I finally had the courage and chance to break their seemingly definite conversation.
"Wha...what is happening?" I asked, while everyone fell silent, "S-sakura? I thought you and Naruto were… what's with all these flowers and candles and stuff? Y-you guys have something to d-do with these, right?"
Tenten laughed, and stood up. A hand on her hips, she laughed again and shook her head.
"We'll be outside when you need us, Sasuke," She said, already walking out of my house.
"We'll freeze to death," Chouji commented, having found no chips or whatsoever in the pantry.
"Ah yes, my place, then." Sakura said, giggling. They soon all nodded, bid some goodbyes and good lucks and we're-here-in-case-violence-happens.
"I guess I get to keep my new year wish," Gaara whispered in my ear before leaving. His... wish? My happiness?
Soon Sasuke and I were left completely.
I was feeling blank and out of place, and the scent made me sleepy all the more. There really isn't much flame, but with the recent hot breaths I felt like my fireplace was ablaze.
Sasuke stepped closer to me, his hand still gripping his bag. With the look he gave me I felt like he wanted to kidnap me or something, so the moment he stepped another foot closer I closed my eyes and slapped him.
His eyes widened, speechless; surprised.
"How the hell.. how.. how dare y-you!" I said, tears forming on my eyes, my vision going into a gaussian blur of orange and red, "After two years… after you… you u-used me.. and—"
"I said after two years, hadn't I?" Sasuke asked, still in shock, "Haven't you read it? Two years? Adwang banwa?"
W-what? That message he left at the bedside table with the diamond? "How the hell should I know t-that's what it meant?"
Sasuke sighed, and fiddled with his bag. "I thought you knew, I'm sorry. Ino… I asked Ino about something, and she… she told me that they will have no stock in the supermarket, so I had to get it myself…"
"G-get what yourself?" I asked, backing, a little suspicious of his words. I have no idea what he's saying.
Before speaking he looked at me straight in the eyes, and had his hand grabbed something from inside his bag.
"It took me two years, just as I speculated, two travel to the forest and take it myself, and… All I'm saying is I'm sorry, and if you'd love me again, just this one time, I'd be forever yours to keep…" he muttered, still looking at me with flushed cheeks, from the mixture of heat, and cold, and embarrassment, and blush.
"I'd be forever here, Hinata," he whispered again, "If only, will you…"
He took out his hand from the bag, his eyes dropping low in anticipation and nervousness, and soon I saw what he had been looking for and trying to get for me these two years.
I looked at him, and in his hand, was a beautiful, breath-taking Blue Feather that glistened within candlelight: Will you marry me?
Author's notes: For those who don't play the game, Blue Feather is like a Wedding ring. You know, something you need when proposing. Haha. And in this chapter Hinata seems like a bit ooc, but you know, I really don't like the stuttering, weak, uncertain Hinata anymore. If you're updated with the manga, she's grown quite a fighter out of herself already, no?
I hope you enjoyed my story. Thank you very much, everyone! I feel so happy.