Word Count: 600.
Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto.
Hanabi watches as a love story unfolds before her eyes.
Neji and Hinata have not always been on the best of terms. As much as Hinata wanted to be Neji's friend, Neji could only see Hinata with the cold eyes of someone who has been betrayed, for it was for Hinata's sake that Neji's father had to die.
Hanabi always knew that Hinata strove to become stronger neither for her father's acknowledgement nor for the elders' approval, but to get Neji to notice her. Hinata never wanted anything but for her cousin to respect her.
As Hanabi stared down at her sister as she laid on her hospital bed, she personally thought that that want was severely misplaced.
Neji despised her. He saw Hinata as everything that he would never be able to be. He looked at her and saw the freedom he would never attain, and he hated her for it, to the point that he tried to kill her during the Chunin Exam.
But Hinata still kept trying. Hanabi never understood why, but Hinata was able to forgive their cousin and get right back on track, training harder than ever and punishing her body more than ever. Hinata still looked up at Neji with respectful, hopeful eyes, hoping beyond hope that he would one day respect her.
And Neji, Hanabi knew, hadn't changed either. Hinata had never wanted anything more than for Neji to think well of her, and he continued to belittle and demean her in his thoughts, and Hanabi knew that men who were old at heart did not change their habits, so she wasn't expecting change any time soon from her arrogant cousin.
For a while, about a month, the cycle continued on in the same fashion that it had always been. Hit and miss on Hinata's part, aiming but never quite hitting. Blind and deaf on Neji's part, never seeing anything but his own pain and his own grudge.
Then, something happened. Neji seemed to be thawing. Hanabi wasn't sure why. He was a little warmer. He smiled more often, softened out. The ice melted away from his sallow face.
Over time, he started to notice Hinata. It took several years for what was damaged to be made even partially whole again. But when it was, he noticed first Hanabi's sister.
It happened slowly. Small kindnesses done and the like. They barely knew each other at all before it started, and before either knew what was happening, they had gotten further than either thought they ever would.
And when Hanabi watches, she sees shy smiles passed and skin aching to be touched. They are both so inhibited, but they both smile more often now.
Words are passed in warm corridors when no one else is watching; God only knows what they say to the shadows of their rooms in the darkness of night.
No one ever could have foreseen it, looking back on their earlier years when Hinata was a shy little girl and Neji a cold old man in a young boy's body. As Hinata grows into her own, Neji seems to get younger, his eyes gaining a shine to them, regaining what he has lost of his youth.
Hinata has won Neji's approval, and Neji has found comfort in Hinata's kindness and in her heart.
Hanabi watches with a knowing little smile as she watches them, smiling, laughing, giving embraces and kisses.
Her sister and her cousin are in love, and anyone who doesn't see it is utterly blind.
And Hanabi sits back and thinks of splints for broken wings of birds.