Author's note: I can't resist, I want to start putting this one up. This story is completely unrelated to my other Naruto works, but I will have some similar elements, such as the past I made up for Uzumaki Kushina. I had this idea a few months ago, and now have over ninety pages written in a notebook, with no signs of stopping yet. Some of the things in here may seem a but extreme, but there is a method to the madness, and this is called Fan fiction for a reason.
Disclaimer: I don't own anything to do with naruto, I'm just playing with ideas and characters here.
Hyuuga Hinata lay on the floor of the Hyuuga family dojo, panting and totally exhausted. Her coat had long since been removed and now bruises and closed tenketsu showed clearly, a stark contrast to her porcelain pale skin.
"Hinata, get up," Neji hissed at her. He had been the only family member to not beat her up when he sparred with her, trying to give her a chance to show off her new skills and custom jutsu, which would hopefully impress the clan elders. It hadn't worked, she was too injured and chakra depleted to pull them off. She could tell by the looks on the elders' faces that they knew Neji had softened his blows. He would pay for that later.
What would Naruto do? The thought flashed through her mind. Remembering how her crush fought on, even when his back was against a wall and it seemed certain that he would lose, Hinata was finally able to summon her remaining strength and stand up on her feet again. I won't give up. I refuse to! Even if it doesn't impress the clan elders or my father, I will feel better because I have taken a step in the right direction.
"Enough!" one of the elders called out. "We are finished evaluating your performance, Hinata. Wash your face and we will send a messenger for you when we have made our decision." The clan elders filed out of the dojo, Hiashi being the last to leave.
"You have improved measurably, daughter," he whispered, "Your stamina is impressive, being able to spar with three members of our clan back to back without stopping. Good job. Neji, I wish you had been the first to fight her. You gave her the chance to show her skills, unlike her other opponents." He left, leaving Hinata and Neji alone.
"You definitely impressed your father," Neji said, trying to reassure his cousin. "That is a good sign."
"The rest of the elders didn't look impressed. It's because I failed to take Hanabi down when her side was wide open. Is it weakness to not want to hurt my little sister? I am disgusted by all of the bickering and fighting in the clan. I don't want to make it worse by injuring my closest family members."
Neji sighed, he was as well, but his hands were tied. Hinata was the only one who had the power to change their clan right now, with her position as the heiress. But that might change after tonight with the decision of the clan elders.
The two of them washed their faces and headed to the hallway outside of the elders' council chambers. Neji would be accompanying Hinata, outwardly as her protector, but secretly for moral support. Ever since Naruto had literally beaten the sense into him during the Chunin Exams, he had become Hinata's closest friend and confidant inside of the Hyuuga compound.
After forty minutes, the door opened and an elder gestured for them to come inside.
"Hyuuga Hinata, it is the decision of this council that, despite the improvements you have made, your skills are not at the level expected of the next head of the Hyuuga Clan. You are, as of today, stripped of your position and title as clan heiress. Hyuuga Hanabi will now carry the position and title."
Hinata took a deep breath to steady her nerves, "And what is to be my new position? Will you brand me with the Caged Bird seal and place me in the Branch House?"
"No, that will not be your fate. You have two choices before you, Hinata," her paternal grandmother, Hyuuga Haruka explained.
"What are they?"
"On you fourteenth birthday, you will be branded with the Caged Bird seal and betrothed to Yamada Tarou, a nobleman in the Land of Fire, and married to him on your fifteenth birthday."
"I know that name," Neji hissed, "He is three years older than your father!"
No! I don't want to be married to someone older than my father! I want to marry someone my age, preferably with blonde hair and blue eyes. Keeping her face composed, Hinata resolutely asked, "What is my other choice?"
Hiashi spoke up, "If there is a ninja in this village willing to be bonded to you, you must be married by the end of the month, and you will not be branded. However, this must be a true marriage, not some name-only thing to protect you. If he divorces you, you will automatically be branded and end up in the Hyuuga Branch House, never to marry again. Another condition is that you must be carrying your husband's child by your sixteenth birthday, unless either one of you is proven to be infertile, and it is signed off by a proven and competent medical ninja."
"Married within a month? What kind of choices are these?" Neji hotly demanded.
"You forget your place, Neji," Haruka said, her tone gently warning her grandson.
"My place is to protect Hinata. I don't care if she isn't the clan heiress anymore. This isn't much of a choice Hinata has. Can't she at least have until her fourteenth birthday? Why does she only have a month?"
"To prove her dedication to Konoha and her chosen profession as a kunoichi," another elder, Hyuuga Masato said. "If she want to stay here and remain a shinobi, she has to show it."
"If there are any ninja in this village who would be willing to be saddled with a talentless, worthless kunoichi such as yourself," Hyuuga Norio sneered at Hinata.
Hinata gulped, but stood her ground. "I am not worthless," she quietly stated, "I am a kunoichi of Konoha who has completed several successful missions."
"We are finished here," Hiashi announced, "Everyone, except for Hinata and Neji, leave." All of the council members filed out of the room. When the room was finally empty, Hiashi turned to the two young Genin. "I tried to give you more time, Hinata, but the elders wouldn't hear of it. Many of them say you are too gentle and kindhearted, like your mother, which is inappropriate of the future clan head."
"And have they forgotten that Hitomi-basan was a member of the most successful two-man team the ANBU Black Ops has ever had?" Neji replied.
"Kitsune and Raven," Hinata nodded, "Kaasan showed me their masks when I was little. Kitsune was her best friend, in addition to being her team mate."
"What happened to Kitsune?" Neji asked, sounding curious. He had heard the name, but had no clue to Kitsune's fate. All he knew was that he had never met her, not even at Hitomi's funeral.
"She died the night the Kyuubi attacked, both her and her husband. What is Kitsune's real name, Otousan?"
Hiashi pulled a photo album out of his desk that was pushed against the wall and handed it to the two. He opened it up to a team picture that was missing the sensei and and pointed to the red-haired girl with a katana strapped to her back. "This is her, the Katana Mistress of Konoha, Red Whirlpool, and the top prankster this village has ever seen, until the appearance of your friend, Naruto..."
Haruka poked her head back inside, "Hiashi, we need to inform Hanabi of this new development."
"Hiashi-sama," Neji spoke up, "Hinata-sama and I wish to do some intense training as well as take care of some personal business. May we have permission to leave the compound for a week's time?"
"Yes, as long as you stay within the village walls. You may keep the photo album, Hinata. I have many more memories of your mother than you do, so I think you need it more. Good luck, you two."
Once Hiashi had left, Hinata found a photo with just the red-haired girl. Pulling it out of it's protective sleeve, she saw her mother's elegant script on the back and began to read out loud. "'This is my best friend and teammate, Uzumaki Kushina. Birthplace, the now-destroyed Uzugakure no Sato. Age at time of picture, eleven. Rank, Genin (Though she insists not for long). Favorite food, ramen. Hobbies, pulling pranks, training, and annoying the guys (especially the top ninja of our year, Namikaze Minato). Nindo, Never give up, and Do my best to protect my friends, so they don't know the pain I went through when my family was killed. Kushina's entire family was killed and her original village was destroyed by Iwa ninja when she was eight years old.'"
"Uzumaki?" Neji breathed in disbelief.
"Favorite food is ramen, and her hobbies are pranking and training," Hinata whispered. She flipped the picture over again and studied the girl closely. There it was. "She has the same smile as Naruto-kun, well, one of his real smiles, not his fake ones."
"How can it be? I don't think it is a coincidence," Neji mused, also studying the picture, trying to confirm his cousin's words.
"She must be Naruto-kun's mother! They have similar personality traits and nindo, some similar features, and the same last name!" Hinata blurted out excitedly, which was highly unusual for her. She was very tired and sore, along with having a massive, migraine-level headache, so she wasn't acting like herself. The fact she found a connection between her self and her crush also helped.
"I have an idea, Hinata," Neji said, "That just might get you with the one you like, and foil the elder's little plot for you. I just need you to do one thing for me in return."
"Don't tell anyone I played matchmaker between you and Naruto. I do have a reputation I need to keep up." He sighed. "Grab the album and pack a few things. Then we'll go to the store and find Naruto. Do you mind cooking dinner for four people tonight? Tenten has offered to let me crash at her home whenever I get fed up with the clan, so we can stay with her for the week. I just hope she'll let us use the kitchen tonight. This could be interesting."
A/N, take two: There is a reason why the Hyuuga clan council gave Hinata an option that would be impossible to complete, and you will find out later, so please don't flame me over it. I like the idea of Neji being a schemer, it just seems to fit his personality so well. Like I always say, if you don't like, no one is making you read this! You don't need to tell me you hate it or flame me.