Well, here is my DateMe entry. It was supposed to be fluff, but my mood made it a lot more complicated than it ought to be.
Alternate Universe: Konoha Academy, high school of the elite… yadda yadda yadda. A cliché with a twist: featuring a Hyuuga Hinata that, despite her exterior, is a true Hyuuga to her very bones. Oh yes, I also changed her nervous gesture from finger twitching to something else. Kudos to anyone who spots it.
Dedication: Bjorkubus: Your drawings are so awesome they make my fingers twitch to type on the keyboard and write more fanfiction. Gah. I hate you. :)
Disclaimer: not mine.
Because back then, even when kingdoms were frequently bartered away to unknown knights and princesses met princes under the discerning eye of dead dragons, there were kings and there were witches.
Chapter One: Of Witches
True, fairytales and legends were dramatized—after all, there were more dragons running around in fairytales than Kakashi had masks. Still, despite the eloquence and the imagery, fairytales and legends fundamentally spoke truth. They spoke of human nature, of the unending circle of hate, love, revenge, and of all the emotions that make humans both flawed and perfect.
There really were princesses. True, although they may not dress in silken gowns and had hair long enough to sweep the floor, princesses existed.
"Hinata, what do you think of this?"
"I think it looks useful Sakura…" Hinata demurred even as she inwardly marveled (not for the first time) how simple and yet pretty Sakura looked with her pink hair bouncing around her shoulder and her green eyes peering intently at the folder. Yes, while Haruno Sakura may not have fairy godmothers dancing at her fingertips, she certainly was a princess in every sense of the word even in her high school uniform.
"Well, looks like we got all the research we need," the girl said absentmindedly before she tucked the folder underneath her arm. "C'mon Hinata, let's get some food. I'm starved!"
Even a simple action like wrinkling her nose looked pretty on Sakura.
"Alright," Hinata murmured, tucking strands her own dark hair (long, lank, limpid) behind her ears. She had contemplated chopping it fashionably short or mid-length like Sakura but her long hair was a security blanket she couldn't let go of. Hinata almost tripped on her shoes as she scrambled after the girl.
They bumped into Tayuya on their way out.
"Hey Haruno!" Although Tayuya was always rude to everyone, even she couldn't help the friendly undertone in her voice. Who could? Who could not help but like the eager-beaver, graceful, open-book Haruno Sakura who had worked so hard to make her own place among the elite at Konoha Academy?
It wasn't as if she didn't have faults. She was loud, brutally honest at times, wore her heart on a sleeve, proud—but even her faults seemed appropriate for the princess she was.
So unlike Hinata, who was the witch.
Hinata lowered her eyes, tucked her grown-out bangs behind her ears, and avoided the other girl's judgmental gaze.
"Hey, don't be rude," Sakura shot back. Tayuya pouted and ruffled Sakura's hair.
"Bitch," Sakura taunted as she placed one hand on her waist aggressively. Tayuya only laughed flippantly, not at all fazed by the girl's glare. Even the glares of princesses only incited amusement in arguably the bitchiest girl in Konoha Academy.
"Get going, Haruno," Tayuya said playfully as she walked away.
"Bitch," Sakura muttered underneath her breath. "You alright Hinata?"
"Yeah," Hinata said with a strained smile.
After all, who could love a witch except for a true princess?
"Food, food, food…." Sakura chanted underneath her breath as they neared the school café. It was surprisingly cute to see and once again Hinata felt her heart simultaneously glow with pride and wither with shame. She was proud to have such a friend, to be close to such a princess but—
Enter the prince.
"Naruto-baka, stop shouting," Sakura screeched back, her hands already curled into fists.
"Ne, Sakura-chan…" the blonde whined before he tackled the enraged girl in front of the whole café.
"Get off of me Naruto! You're embarrassing me!" Despite her angry words, there was a fondness in the way Sakura whacked his arms that had encircled her waist playfully. The spectators looked on approvingly before turning back to their own business. A princess always looked best next to her prince.
"Hina-chan, you aren't offended are you?"
Hinata felt herself glow a bright, bright red as she found herself the sole focus of brilliant blue eyes that shone through messy blonde hair. Her palms grew sweaty and she nervously tucked her hair behind her ears.
"Ah, President…" she said weakly as she shyly watched him. As always, the student government's president's (wasn't that a mouthful?) uniform was haphazardly worn and haphazardly buttoned, leaving a bit of his chest exposed. The tie had long vanished and although Hinata knew it was so wrong she couldn't help but let her eyes trace his exposed collarbone.
"Eh?! Just call me Naruto Hina-chan!" Naruto said eagerly, ignoring Sakura's sigh and eye-rolling.
Trust the prince to be kind to the witch too.
"It's fine, President—"
"Deadlast…" Hinata felt herself tense and raised her hand to tuck her hair behind her ears again.
Enter the king.
As always, although he wore the uniform perfectly with his tie impeccably tied in a full Windsor knot, there was something so rakishly dangerous about him. Even when his lips were twisted in a scowl, as he was doing so now, Uchiha Sasuke was undeniably handsome and undeniably attractive. Nevertheless, Hinata felt more fear than attraction at the sight of him.
No, this king wasn't anything like the prince or the princess. He knew exactly how evil the witch could be. It was only out of sheer royal grace he didn't show his outright suspicion.
"Ah, Vice President," Hinata said demurely, her eyes already flicking toward the floor as she took a subtle step away from Sakura and Naruto.
"Hey Sasuke!" Naruto greeted cheerfully, utterly ignoring the grimace that Sasuke threw his way. Sakura struggled until she finally threw off Naruto's impromptu embrace before she hastily smoothed down her skirt and bit her lip hesitantly.
"Hello Sasuke…" she said shyly. He gave a small nod in greeting.
"Hyuuga," Sasuke said curtly as he inclined his head. His eyes were narrowed and Hinata felt her fingers twitch.
"Ne, Sakura, are you hungry?" Naruto asked.
"Erm… a bit," Sakura said carefully as she unsuccessfully fought her blush as Sasuke watched her impassively.
"Let's go grab some ramen then! You too Sasuke!" Naruto crowed as he slung a friendly arm around Sasuke's shoulder as Sakura muffled her own giggles. Sasuke frowned and crammed his hands into his pockets. They were the perfect image of high school camaraderie. It was all so sweet it almost made want Hinata want to curl her fingers into claws to rip them all in two.
Almost, almost… almost.
"Do you want to come Hinata?" Sakura said kindly.
Hinata hesitated and opened her mouth to refuse—
Hinata blushed. When a prince asked you himself, even a witch had to acquiesce.
"Alright," she said quietly.
The walk to the ramen bar was filled with Naruto's chatter and Sakura's subsequent scolding punctuated only by the odd comment from Sasuke. Hinata trailed just a step behind as she kept a fond smile on her face despite the looks they drew.
It wasn't as if they would openly glare. No, the groomed youth of Konoha High knew better than to openly show their disdain. However, that didn't stop them from oh-so-casually sliding their eyes away from the Hyuuga Heiress or lingering just a second longer to show their disbelief.
Witches really did stand out when they were in a crowd of royalty.
While Naruto and Sakura may act oblivious to the situation, even they weren't totally ignorant. Hinata did not miss the glares they sent at other people or their efforts to engage her in the conversation.
How sweet of them. How kind of them.
She doesn't deserve their kindness.
Only Sasuke acted utterly oblivious to the stir they were causing—no that wasn't the right word. Only Sasuke acted utterly indifferent, utterly blasé. Somehow, although she still doesn't like him, Hinata felt her respect for him grow just a few notches.
After they finally arrive at the bar and promptly order their ramen, Hinata was vaguely surprised when Sasuke took a seat next to her. Although she would honestly prefer to sit next to Naruto, she couldn't help but see the silver lining in the dark cloud—it would hurt less.
Something flashed in Sakura's green eyes for a second but vanished as she began to blush out of embarrassment, as if she were ashamed to be jealous. It made her look prettier than ever.
Hinata shamefully focused on her ramen—the princess shouldn't feel threatened. After all, she was only the witch.
Like the walk there, the conversation at the table was still mostly dominated by Naruto and Sakura. This time however, when the arguing duo left momentarily to dispose of their trays, Hinata found herself alone. With the Uchiha Sasuke.
"So what does the Hyuuga want with Haruno?"
"Excuse me?" Hinata widened her eyes and raised her knuckle to her lips in the perfect image of innocence.
A sneer flitted across Sasuke's lips. Up close, they look remarkably perfect and remarkably similar to Hyuuga lips. Uchiha lips have the same aristocratic tilt and they twist into that familiar arrogant smile much too easily for Hinata's comfort.
"Don't tell me the Hyuuga Heiress is rubbing elbows with Haruno out of pure friendship—I may not be Itachi but even I can see the obvious."
Hinata's eyes flashed.
"I don't see how your brother has anything to do with this," Hinata demurred as she cagily evaded the question.
"No, he doesn't," Sasuke agreed smoothly. "It's bad enough that Uzumaki feels as if he needs to take you under his wing as a charity case. We don't need Haruno feeling the same," he continued cruelly.
It's a true indication of Hinata's self control that she didn't fly at him with fork and knife and only tightened her grip on the chopsticks. With fingers that trembled just a little bit, she tucked her hair behind her ear in pseudo-calm.
"I really don't know what you're talking about."
"How about I put it this way? Haruno Sakura, young and brilliant, likely on her way to a brilliant career in medicine and from an unknown family. What a boon for the Hyuuga Conglomerate if they can ensnare her early enough. I heard they're thinking about expanding their business into AID drugs in the future. Naruto may think he can change the world, but no matter how powerful his dad maybe, the Uzumakis are still an outsider. I know better." As he spoke, he inched closer until his mouth was only an inch away from her ear. If they had been two other people besides Uchiha Sasuke and Hyuuga Hinata, one could have almost imagined they were two young adolescents in love. Unfortunately, they were who they were and there was nothing romantic about that scene.
A more appropriate allusion would have been a cat and a mouse.
Hinata's face turned an unhealthy sickly pale color and her eyes had taken on a pained look. Her posture stayed straight however, and when she turned to look at the boy from beneath her lashes, she was pure ice.
"I heard Suigetsu is quite the genius in chemistry."
It was only one line but it was enough. Sasuke's eyes narrowed and for a moment it looked as if he were waging an internal battle within himself.
"Not Haruno. Find someone else or else even Naruto won't forgive you," was his only warning before he rose and left.
Hinata's shoulders slumped. She gave a rueful glance at her uneaten ramen (she hated cafeteria food) and ignored the murmurs and stares. As she dumped her tray, she wondered to herself whether it was all worth it.
Well, someone had to play the witch.
Still… Hinata hesitated and bit her lip. Her eyes flicked back and forth as she thought. Finally arriving at some conclusion, she dove into a secluded alcove and cracked open her cell phone.
"Hello Neji-nii-san, this is Hinata… yes… yes… tell the Elders that Sakura failed the last quiz… yes… give me the name again? Okay… anyone else? Suigetsu? No, I don't think that would be a good idea… Uchiha. Yeah. The younger one… no I will not talk to Itachi about this. No. Alright. Goodbye."
"You owe me."
She caught him in a secluded hallway on the fourth floor after school. It was late afternoon and the setting sun painted the corridor in red and yellows that made it seem as if her dark hair was on fire.
"… who did they ask for?" He did not bother turning around.
He tensed—but after a few moments he sighed and his shoulders slumped.
"Alright. Although I must warn you, he's… a bit different," he said reluctantly.
"Hard to control?" Although she spoke softly, there was a wry undertone in her voice as if she couldn't believe an Uchiha was actually giving advice to a Hyuuga for free. Frankly, Sasuke couldn't believe it himself.
"He is eccentric. But he is useful even if he did pick up some… strange habits."
"You Uchiha should have let us deal with Professor Orochimaru earlier," said Hinata dully, parroting the words that had been spoken to her many times.
"Oh? Getting lost on a research expedition in the Amazons wasn't enough for you?"
"Uchihas," although it should come out as a scoff and a sneer, it came out more as a sigh. Sasuke turned his head to glimpse her face. Her expression was so startling he could not resist actually fully turning around to stare.
For some reason, the same pale skin that made all Hyuuga look unapproachable and cold made her look soft and fragile. Her hair, which was usually tied in an unforgiving bun, seemed looser than usual—probably because it was so late in the day. Unlike the cold hard mask that all Hyuuga generally wore her face was vulnerable and almost apologetic. Her shoulders were slumped and there was not a hint of arrogance in her whole body. Even the characteristic Hyuuga nose and sky high cheekbones looked soft. But it was her eyes that gave her away—they were guilty.
It was a look he saw many times when he looked in the mirror.
All in all, she looked as if she came out of a picture book—one of those tragic heroines who murdered the main characters out of love. Like Odette.
"You really aren't suited for all of this, are you?" Sasuke could not help but marvel.
A witch that wasn't really evil.
It was obviously the wrong thing to say because Hinata immediately stiffened. Her eyes became hard and when she raised her head from staring at the ground to staring at his face, he was almost amused (but some small part of him was also saddened) when he saw the stiff angle of her stubborn chin and mouth.
"I am the Hyuuga Heiress. You will not forget that, Uchiha-san." That said, she turned on her heel to briskly walk away.
Sasuke did not say goodbye. However, just before she got out of ear shot, he found himself opening his mouth to speak.
She paused and from the back she almost had him fooled. Her shoulders were straight and her neck was regal. Nonetheless, Sasuke could easily imagine her anguished eyes.
"I honestly didn't expect you to let Sakura go," he said quietly.
The sound of her shoes clipping business-like against the floor sounded oddly lonely.
Sasuke sighed as he ran a hand through his perpetually messy hair. He pulled at his stiff tie and then glanced at the manila folder in his hands—Suigetsu's latest test scores—before crumpling the paper.
He felt dirty.
the king marveled at the ugliness of human nature. the witch could have told him all about it and more, if he had bothered to ask.
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