AN: Entry for the Naruto Rare Pairings (on DeviantArt) contest for July. One of the themes was 'Good Loves Evil' and I went with NejiHina. I went in a 'shades of grey' sort of way so hopefully it still fits the theme. This was hella fun to write but it is definitely Angst/Romance, just to warn ya.
"Do you remember me?"
Confusion spreads through her senses as she climbs out of the fog of unconsciousness back to the waking world. Her head is pounding and she is quite disoriented. Slowly pale lavender eyes flutter open only to squint at the bright light of the fire in the night. She is outside and she is…
Quickly, she tries to jerk herself into an upright position but finds her body too weak. Her arms give out on her and her shoulder hits the ground hard, causing her to whimper in pain. Her back was in burning agony and she blinked back tears.
"Surprised?" the voice is male and devoid of emotion, yet sounds so familiar to her. Forcing herself to focus she spies two sandal clad feet. Trailing up it is easy to see that the individual is male, tall, with a medium build, clad in black armor. Just before she reaches his face she sees them, the black wings of the Fallen Ones, the damned. Once more she tries to force herself to sit up and fails. She must have fallen from her last battle to the Depths. Truly she was doomed; these were the creatures that were trying to overthrow the rightful rulers of the Sun Citadel in the clouds, the Hyuuga. Lowly creatures that had eventually been banished to the Depths for their betrayal, they were known for their black wings and evil presence. Normally they wore masks, hiding the mark which shows them to be damned, as if their wings weren't telling enough. This male was not wearing his mask and as her gaze drifts over his face she starts, eyes widening.
He is handsome, angular features with lightly tanned skin. Long, chocolate brown hair spilled over his shoulders and framed his face. He was beautiful without being feminine yet was not overly masculine, a perfect balance. None of that, of course, was what gave her pause.
Eyes almost identical to hers stare blankly, illuminated by the night and the fire. How could he…have eyes like her? They were slightly different, her white eyes were tinted a soft lavender while his was a cold silver. Their gazes lock and he looks so familiar to her and yet…
"Surprised?" he asks again, a small smirk emerging "You had your memory erased it would seem." He pauses and the smirk widens "Hinata-sama."
He knows my name! Alarmed, this time she is able to sit up, albeit slowly. His smirk doesn't fade at her obvious discomfort, if anything he seemed amused and…there was another emotion there. It was much darker and brought chills to her spine. "I…" realizing she's about to start stammering she bites her bottom lip and looks away. She is at the mercy of this creature that looks like her kin and yet…they were the damned weren't they?
She bites down the urge to scream when he was suddenly there, kneeling before her. Gently a hand tilts her chin up and she is frozen with fear. The smirk was gone and his gaze was intense, making her feel as if he could see through her somehow…perhaps he could. After a moment her fear becomes almost a physical ache as he tilts his head, his lips inches from hers.
"I will help you remember." He whispers and when he closes the distance between them darkness consumes her.
The man that looked exactly like her father continued to bow low, his head almost touching the ground. Beside him was a little boy who looked confused and a little afraid. He looked a little older than her by about a year but his pale eyes showed a sharp intelligence underneath the innocent nature. Those eyes focus on her and she blushes, trying to hide behind her father's leg, little feathers ruffling slightly. He blinks at her curiously for a moment before giving her a small but nervous smile.
"Brother," the bowed man began "my son…you've seen his potential and I…" the man raised his head and she caught note of his bandaged forehead, causing her to blink. Normally those who had their foreheads wrapped were the ones with the raven colored wings, the servants, and yet he called her father 'brother'. Confused, she looks up at the man in question but he is not looking at her, his cold pale gaze was on the man kneeling and especially on the small boy.
"What are you trying to play at?" her father asked but the other man who looked like her father shook his head.
"Nothing, Hiashi-sama." He tensed and it looked as if he were grinding his teeth "You…have no sons correct? Your second born was a daughter and your wife died in childbirth."
Her father's eyes narrowed "You want me to take the boy."
The boy stiffened, eyes widening in alarm before looking over at his father, who was also refusing to look at his child.
"Please, I have never asked you for anything, brother." The branch member – for that was what she knew of them to be called – straightened up on his knees "Do not mark my son, take him as your own," a sardonic smirk emerged "it is not as if it would be difficult, he looks like us after all. You know he will become strong and he is intelligent. I –"
A hand raised "You don't need to give me a sales pitch for the boy, I will take him."
The two brothers spoke for a few moments after before father motioned for son to stand beside him. Gently, he pulled the boy close, lightly kissing his unmarked forehead. "Neji," he began "listen to me very carefully. I must…I will be departing and so Hiashi-sama will take you as his own. He will be your father and you now have two younger sisters, ensure that you take care of them."
The boy did not understand but the look on his father's face would accept no argument. Slowly, the boy looked over at her father before settling his gaze on her. This time when he smiled thinly there was no nervousness, his gaze looked solemn, as if he was quickly beginning to understand something that she did not.
"It is nice to meet you…" the smile faded and his expression became carefully blank "little sister."
The screams reverberated throughout the house, jarring her awake. They were coming from the other room, her brother's room.
Panicked, she immediately shot out of bed, bare feet rushed over to the door and opened it wide. The entire floor was in a frenzy, black-winged servants were running to and fro, many terrified and unsure of what to do. The screaming continued and although her heart was pounding in her chest and she was terrified, she squeezed through the adults and slid the door open to Neji's room.
Two council members were inside and stood up straight when she entered, their gazes blank. Her brother was practically clawing at his head as he thrashed in his bed in obvious pain. She saw it then, the way his wings, which had been white, were slowly – and it seemed painfully – changing. It was as if the darkness was swallowing his wings from the base to tip and it was not until the transformation was complete that he stopped thrashing, stopped moving.
"What is the meaning of this?" Her father's deep voice was infuriated as he filled the room with his overwhelming presence. The two elders looked nervous yet firm. Upon looking at the now black-winged boy her father's eyes widened in horror before looking at the two culprits with barely concealed rage "You dare…"
"A servant is a servant is a servant." The older of the two males snapped, straightening "Servants don't become princes, he should know his place."
She didn't at all hear the rest of the argument, for her brother was now kneeling on his bed, his face in his hands. Slowly, he raises his head and it is his gaze that drowns out everything around her. A bright green marking was graced along his forehead along with his newly turned wings, but that wasn't what brought her pause. What made her pale was the look in his eyes. Eyes that had been bright and energetic, albeit sad at times, now looked dark and murderous. As if sensing the hostility from the boy the three men looked down at him and all went silent.
Pale silver eyes shifted from her face to her father's. His small body was shaking from the pain he had experienced but the rage and hatred was clear to see.
"You betrayed him." Was all he said.
"It is not a two handed-sword, Hinata-sama," the deepening voice held barely concealed contempt as he moved forward, slicing his short sword up. She was barely able to defend herself and pain filled her heart at his cold gaze "This is ridiculous." Standing straight he sheathed his sword "Are you even training?"
Biting her lip she looked down at the ground, fighting back tears. She practiced every day and yet for some reason she just didn't seem to be able to improve. Even her little sister was stronger than her now; the entire main house thought her pathetic and her 'brother' was no exception. Why wasn't she good at fighting? Why was it that no matter how hard she tried she could never…
"Are you crying?"
It wasn't the question he had asked so much as the way he had asked it, as if he couldn't believe her audacity. Tensing, she quickly tried to wipe at her eyes but too late, something slammed hard into her and she found herself pinned to a tree, silver eyes narrowing dangerously.
"You have nothing to cry about." His voice was low and cold and he leaned in very close, their noses almost touching. There was silence for a moment as he looked over her, a small scowl on his young face "What do you, the girl who has everything, need to cry about? What's so painful about your sheltered life that you need to shed tears?"
Once more she fought the urge to cry; ever since that night he had been like this, borderline hostile. Shortly after he had been branded the boy had been told, rather cruelly, that his father had been killed as a sacrifice to an enemy nation to the east so that her father could live. Had he not hated the main house then he certainly hated them after they had told him that. He moved out of the main house and gone from being heir to the Hyuuga to a lowly servant. In a gesture of good will her father had tried to give him a high position, being the guardian to the current heir; but it was obvious he thought the job degrading and openly detested his charge.
She tried so hard to do well and not make him angry, just so she could see that thin smile once more. Nothing worked, however, and eight years later she wondered if he would ever smile again, if he would ever be the solemn but kind boy she had loved. Still loved.
Then his expression changed drastically as he regarded her. It was as if he was looking at her for the first time and wasn't entirely sure what to do about her. When she tried to turn away from that scrutinizing gaze a hand grabbed her chin roughly and she was forced to look at the boy she had loved and had called 'brother' so many years ago. After a long moment he smiles for the first time in years, yet it all it does is make her feel nervous and afraid.
Still holding her chin her face flushes when suddenly he presses their bodies together, that smile still on his face. He is only around two inches taller than her at the moment, the thirteen year old still had yet to hit his growth spurt. Regardless of his age his presence was still intimidating and overwhelming. She had wanted to see him smile once more…but not like this.
"The main house," he began, his thumb lightly stroking her cheek. He tilts his head and she tries to back her head away before he can kiss her. This seems to amuse him but there is a hard cruelty underneath "has taken everything away from me." Instead of trying to kiss her instead he tilts her head so that he can lightly nuzzle her neck "My mother, who was forced out and killed in battle before she had fully recovered from having me, my father, who your people sent out to die…I think I deserve something, don't you? I've had so much taken from me, don't you think I should take something in return?"
Leaning back, his gaze was impassive as he looked at her bare forehead and pale white wings. When his eyes settled back on hers she tried, and failed, not to flinch away. Her reaction seemed to have broken the spell, for once she tried to move away a hand gripped her short hair hard and she was pulled up against him, cold silver boring into warm lavender. He tilted his head again until his lips were near her ear.
"Your house owes me," it was practically a growl "so from today on, Hinata-sama, you belong to me."
"What do you think you're doing?" her guardian asked, his gaze devoid of all emotion. His hand jerked and the male beneath him howled in pain, bowing his head. She flinched and backed away, her arms wrapping around her middle as the black winged sixteen year old kept a firm grip on the offender's wrist "As Hinata-sama's guardian, you do realize that despite the difference of our stations I can kill you, right?" another jerk and the white winged male practically screamed, tears streaming down his face "Apologize." Came the demand "If you do, perhaps I won't even report you."
"S-s-so-ss-sorry!" the male stammered out, looking up at her as if trying to plead for her to call off her 'watch dog'. "I was just…"
"I said apologize, not give excuses." He snapped and there was a loud cracking sound as he snapped the boy's wrist in half "Learn to keep your hands to yourself next time." Ignoring the shouts and sobs his cool gaze snaps down to hers. He is definitely upset with her and that never boded well. Reaching out his hand she took it, allowing him to pull her to her feet. "Are you alright?"
She almost wanted to ask if he truly even cared…except that lately he had been acting rather strange. For some reason he was being somewhat nicer to her, he insulted her less. She didn't know what to make of this new development besides be wary. Perhaps it was the calm before the storm.
When she nodded he took her wrist and guided her out of the forest where the boy had tricked her in going to, pretending to be one of her female friends via letter. It was late in the evening when they returned to the main house and not a word was exchanged until they reached her room. Normally, unless he had some sort of real reason he avoided going inside – not tonight.
When she entered he followed her in, locking the door behind him. Her heart jumped to her throat as she turned to face him but in the dark all she could see was the silver glow of narrowed white eyes. She blinked and then she was on her back on her bed, her guardian moving to hover over her. Cheeks flaming, she looked up at him nervously and with not a little bit of fear. Up until now his demands had been rather simple, mostly making her more of the servant instead of him when alone. Judging from the way his eyes were roaming over her heatedly she had a feeling that this would be different from normal.
"Did he touch you?" the question he asks throws her off guard for he sounds genuinely concerned "Answer me."
Slowly she shakes her head "N-no…Neji-niisan stopped him so…"
A slow smile emerged at her refusal to drop the familiar way of address despite the numerous times he had told her to "Do you love me, Hinata-sama?"
The question caught her off guard but before she could even answer warm lips slid over hers. It wasn't a demanding kiss, in fact it was rather gentle and she found herself shivering slightly. Did she love him? She had always loved him, even when he had been at his most cruel. She loved him because she knew who he truly was and could not blame him for his anger as it was justified. For years she had hoped that perhaps one day he would find a reason to smile again, for years she had kept silent even though she could have easily told her family of his treatment of her and had him killed. He had known, of course, which was why he had done all of the things he had. Looking at him now, he seemed like a completely different person. What had changed?
As if reading her mind, he buried his face in her neck "I'm tired of trying to hate you." His voice rumbles against her skin "I still hate the main house, I will hate them until the day I die but you…" he chuckled but it sounded self-depreciating "I tried to get you to hate me, it would have made things so much easier…" this time when he kissed her she responded, wrapping her arms around his neck. A low groan escaped and she felt a hand slide up her leg and underneath her shirt. "Is it too late, Hinata?" lips trailed along her neck, his voice low and slightly husky "Did you stop loving me?"
Pulling back he looked at her and she searched him, trying to see if perhaps he was playing with her or trying to trick her. It was no trick, the warmth in his eyes, the small but solemn smile on his face.
"I…could never hate you." She shook her head. "I could never…stop loving you."
She was barely able to finish her sentence when he kissed her hard and passionately, as if making up for lost time. When he began to remove her clothes she did not fight although she had been embarrassed. It had been difficult to hold back her gasps and moans of pleasure as the night went on and her guardian made love to her within the walls of the main house. He had been gentle, almost worshipping, and it had been obvious that it had not been his first time with a woman. Regardless, when he covered his mouth with hers as she climaxed and he filled her she could only feel happy and content when he dipped his head and told her he loved her.
Wings bound, legs and arms chained, he was brought forth to the council and the court room filled with main house members. His legs were kicked out from under him to force him down to his knees. He had been beaten severely yet the defiance in those silver depths never faded, the hatred never waned.
"Neji of the branch house," one of the council members began "is it true that you were one of the major players behind the attempted coup on the main house?"
"If you defend him, we will not only kill him but the abomination we know you carry within your womb. Cooperate and he'll live, we promise you this."
She sat to the side, her heart breaking at the sight before her. Long brown hair looked lifeless and dull as it hung over his wounded body. His back was full of deep red marks and his chest fared no better. They had stripped him of all clothing and had summoned all of the main house members for this trial.
When no answer was forthcoming his cries of pain filled the room as the back of his neck was shocked with a long stick one of the jailors was holding. It took a moment for his head to rise again.
"No." he ground out, his voice harsh and raspy "I was not." The small smirk on his face made a few members bristle "And you have no proof that I did."
"You do realize that you and your little rebels have started a war, don't you?" another member asked, looking down at the branch member below him with contempt "We've either killed or banished all of you with the audacity to fight against your betters."
If it had been meant as an intimidation tactic it had been lost on Neji who merely continued to glare up at them.
This time one of the members smirked "We will accept your claims that you did not lead the revolt, but you cannot deny the claims that you forced yourself on our heir."
Had they not been holding him back he would have launched himself at the old male and indeed the men stiffened in fear. The man below them, had he truly became heir he would have been an unstoppable force. He had been branch born but the power, skill, and intelligence he had wielded even as a child had been enough for them all those years ago when they had branded him. Now they were glad they had.
"I did no such thing!" he denied sharply and was forced back down to his knees.
"Please…when the baby is born, tell them that it died…take the baby to…take the baby to Neji. They'll come for me but I won't let them take our child, please…and tell him I'm…I'm sorry."
"She has already testified that you have."
Pale eyes widened and snapped over to the woman sitting in the booth off to the side. She refused to look at him.
She squeezed her eyes shut and forced herself to look at him. It was as if the entire room had disappeared and it was just the two of them. He was looking at her, taking her in and trying to see if the council was lying, that she hadn't betrayed him so openly. When he was met with silence she saw, only for a brief moment, the pain and complete anguish in his eyes at what she was doing. Everyone in his life had betrayed him and the one person he had finally opened his heart to had dealt the final blow.
"Hinata!" strong arms kept him pinned as he struggled. Mixed in with the pain was total disbelief; had she not loved him all these years? Had it all been a lie? Had she been the traitor who had told the main house about the coup? Their plans had been to slip away together once the chaos had started but everything had gone to hell and now…
"You will be banished to the Depths," he was told "along with the others. Be thankful, for your transgression we could have had you executed. Our heiress was feeling kind and asked for mercy on your behalf."
If he had heard the old man the young male didn't show it, his focus was all on his lover; on the woman carrying his child. As they forced him to stand she saw the change, the one she had expected, come over him. Like before all those years ago those silver eyes looked at her as if she were the vilest thing he had ever come across. He didn't have to say anything, she already knew what he was thinking, what he was feeling.
You betrayed me.
She knew no matter what happened from that point on that she had lost him forever. When the baby was born and taken from her by the last remaining rebels within the citadel, when the council had finally found her after she had ran away, she would ask them to erase her memory. Neji would never forgive her but she was fine with that. She had loved him all of her life and for a brief moment, that love had been returned. Their daughter would know love, Neji would love her unconditionally and she would not be branded. Hinata knew if she ever met him again on the battlefield what would happen.
She was okay with that.
When she opened her eyes she found that she was standing, not lying on the ground like before. It was also daylight. A warm hand was at her cheek but the eyes on her were cold and unfeeling. A thumb lightly brushed along her cheek.
"Do you remember now?" he asked her and it takes her a moment for all of it to fully sink in again. For some reason his voice sounded so warm, not at all like the look he was giving her.
When the memories finally settled to make sense her eyes snapped up to him. She could tell him; if she could quickly tell him the truth then perhaps…
Lips moved over hers and she was crushed against him. Surprised, she found herself instinctively responding. Had he…understood after all? Had he figured out the truth? So many years had gone by, well over twenty, would it be possible to do things differently now?
When the blade slid through her chest and out it didn't actually hurt initially. She actually felt very numb with the exception of the drops of rain that were beginning to fall. It wasn't until he slid the blade out of her body that the pain emerged and blood began to fill her throat. Slowly, her hands rose until they had framed his face and realized that the wetness on her face hadn't been from the rain at all. Gently, she wiped at his face gently with her thumbs and could only smile up at him as she felt herself slipping. The only regret she had was the fact that the pain and hurt in his eyes as he looked down at her was because of her. With or without her, she had always wanted his happiness.
"I…love you." Whether or not she said it loud enough to be heard she would never know. Only one thought graced her thoughts before she surrendered herself to oblivion.
I hope you never find out the truth…live with happiness…not with guilt…
"I love you." Was the last thing she heard. She died with a smile on her face.
"Commander?" the voice was young, not quite an adult but not quite a child "Commander? Father?"
Blinking, Neji turned to the female walking up towards him in the rain. She wore the standard black armor of his command but unlike all the others she had pristine white wings and an unmarked forehead. There were others like her, some main house members that had fled, but she was a special case, she was different. Long dark hair was pulled back into a thick braid and with the exception of the silver tint to her white eyes she was the spitting image of her mother.
"Hinako." Stepping away from the mound he had been standing in front of he ignored the small rise of her brow at the dirt and mud caked on his usually immaculate armor. "Are we ready to move out?"
Nodding briefly she turned her gaze towards the horizon, looking wistful "Yes." What she was thinking he had no idea, she tended to be somewhat of an enigma at times. Turning back, she tilted her head, taking in the mound of dirt "I thought you had told the others to go back, did someone not make it?"
"It was the enemy." He said coolly and began walking away and she fell into step beside him.
"We bury the enemy now?" her question was quite legitimate, Hyuuga Neji had never been known to be merciful or respectful to any main house member he killed. If they fell by his hands he left them there to rot.
"No." he paused, wondering how he wanted to word himself "It was symbolic, I suppose. I buried behind the last vestiges of a deep betrayal."
"Oh." The silence carried on for a long time before she spoke again "Was the person…important to you?" she did not want to mention that despite his words not all of the water drifting along his face was from the rain. Her father was a rather hard man who did not value weakness or emotional attachments.
He stopped walking and the young woman looked at her father, confused. His expression revealed no emotion and yet…
"That person had been…everything to me."
Briefly she turned back to the distance before looking back at her father, sympathy in her pale eyes before she scowled "I hate them. All of them…whoever that person was…if they betrayed you then they were obviously just...just evil." she shook her head, clearly upset.
"Evil?" he looked back where his old lover lay buried. The image of her smiling, as if accepting her fate, her last words… "No," he turned his back for the last time and continued walking. His thoughts drift to when they had been children, his horrible actions towards the girl he had loved because of his anger towards what she had represented. His thoughts drifted to that fateful day when she had betrayed him and he had been banished. Then her genuine smile emerged during her last few seconds of life. There had been no hatred, no anger, only the same amount of love she had given him since the day they had met. He looked up at the sky and realized what he should have known from the very beginning. No matter what, Hinata had never given up on him, she had always hoped against the odds. The moment it had been his turn…
Hinata you…fool. "No, Hinako…" it took a lot to keep his voice from sounding strained "she wasn't the evil one at all."