Chapter 3: Preparations

Summary: No one can fully p r e p a r e themselves for what the future holds.

Two weeks had passed since Hiashi Hyuuga declared his eldest daughter as being unfit to become an heiress. After her belongings were packed, it was time for Hinata to finally move to Sunagakure and meet her betrothed for the first time.

The sun was just breaking through the dawn; its early rays of sunshine illuminated the halls of the Hyuuga Compound. Hinata walked with a deliberate slowness, wanting to remember her home even though it held nothing but painful memories for her.

She thought back to the night of the announcement of her engagement, trying to convince herself that this was the best path for her.

After the meeting that night, Hinata could not utter a single word to defend herself against her father's harsh and criticizing words.

"She's too weak, much too docile." Hinata flinched at how callous her father was when it came to her. "The clan needs a strong leader who can ensure the clan's success for the future."

Hinata forced back her tears that threatened to fall when she saw, from the corner of her eyes, the clan members nodding in agreement. The only person who remained calm and stoic throughout Hiashi's speech was Tsunade-sama herself.

She bit her bottom lip as she forced back a bitter sob. Tsunade-sama probably thinks that I'm a coward for not sticking up for myself. Letting out a deep breath, Hinata watched as her father stood and raised his hand at Hanabi. "In Hinata's place, Hanabi will be trained under my care." He paused, and then spoke the words that Hinata always knew she was fated to hear. "When she becomes of age, she will be the new head of the Hyuuga clan."

Hinata shut her eyes at the painful memory and leaned against the wall. Ever since that night she had been counting down the days of when she would finally move to Suna. Throughout the preparations, Hinata remained silent, eating small doses of food thanks to Hanabi's constant concern for her health.

"Onee-chan." Upon hearing her voice, Hinata turned and smiled sadly at her sister. Hanabi remained silent as she ran towards Hinata, wrapping her arms around her as they comforted each other. Hinata was surprised that no tears came forth at the thought of not seeing her sister again. Ah, perhaps I have already run out of tears to cry?

A few moments passed, and Hinata let go of Hanabi's fragile form. She beamed down at her, running a hand through her dark hair. "Hanabi, you will be a great leader."

She watched as her sister's eyes began to fill. Hanabi blinked and sniffed, causing small droplets of tears to cascade down her cheeks. Hinata gave her pained expression as she caressed her sister's cheek. "Listen to your onee-chan, for what she says is true."

Hinata felt distress that Hanabi had to face the same harsh training that she went through with their father. Being a young kunoichi at the ripe age of 13, Hinata could almost picture the vigorous training that Hanabi would endure with Father.

The eldest Hyuuga smiled bitterly to herself as she looked into her sister's eyes. But then again, you are a lot stronger than me in many aspects.

"Do not be sad that I am going away." The girl whimpered and nodded, wanting to be strong for her sister so she would not worry. "I will always write to you and you will always be in my thoughts." Hinata hugged her sister tightly as she continued, allowing the girl to bury her face in her chest. She felt a faint wetness spreading throughout her light lavender kimono. "Shh, don't cry. Know that Father made the best choice for us both." Gently, she stroked her hair to calm her, "You are strong, beautiful, and brave. You have what it takes to become Heiress."

She heard Hanabi choke back a sob as she gently pulled away from her. She nodded, "I won't let you down."

From behind them, they heard an abrupt cough interrupt their conversation. Looking behind her, she saw the person responsible for the cough and gasped, quickly shielding Hanabi. "W-who are you, and w-what do you want?"

The man was a great deal taller than her. His head was perfectly free of hair, causing Hinata to wonder if he had been born bald. She gulped when she saw his face; the man's features were chiseled and rough. His nose looked as though they had been broken many times, and judging from his masculine form, he had probably broken it from fighting. His sharp eyes took notice of her trembling form as he barked out a laugh. "Relax Hime," The man leaned against the wall and smirked. "You can stop pretending to protect your sister. I was hired by your old man."

Her stance over Hanabi relaxed slightly as her sister took charge. "Father hired you? For what reasons?"

He shot a glance over at Hinata. "To protect your sister while she's in Suna." He let out another cough. "By the way, the name's Akio."

"Anyways, I hate to interrupt your 'moment,' but we gotta go." He pointed to the main entrance of the compound where her means of transport was waiting. "We're running late, if we want to make to Suna on time, we've got to get going now."

Hinata nodded in response. Hugging her sister one last time, she proceeded to follow Akio out of the house. She took notice of his broad back and height as she began to feel as though she could trust this man.

At least Father is beginning to show a bit of concern for my well-being.

Meanwhile, Back in Sunagakure:

The Kazekage's Manor:

"I want everything to be cleaned. Not a single speck of dirt should be seen, understand?"

The three maids nodded in response. "Yes sir!" They were all over the manor; one was dusting the railings of the stairs, the other carried some new sheets upstairs, and the last maid was currently making her way to the kitchen preparing a special dish for tomorrow.

Temari was a bit shaken when she saw her brother ordering around the poor trio. Throughout his years of being the Kazekage, he never once had a use for the maids. Usually, he would give them a decent amount of pay if they came to his manor once every two months. Temari knew her brother well enough to know that there was simply no need for the maids to clean every single day since he barely had the time to enjoy his manor.

So why on earth would he be bossing them around so much right now?

Shaking her head, Temari calmly made her was towards Gaara and placed a hand on his shoulder. He startled slightly as he gazed at her. "Oh, it's only you Temari."

She slightly giggled at her brother. "Wow, you must be out of it today." Temari smirked and gently ruffled his hair, earning a grunt of annoyance from him. "If you were your usual self, you would've easily sensed my presence."

Gaara scoffed slightly at his sister's cocky statement. "I've been busy."

"Busy finally ordering around your maids after not doing so in three months? Come on, Gaara, you can't hide from me." She ignored his glaring and continued to taunt him. "So why are you putting so much effort in making the house clean?"

From the corner of her eyes, she saw her brother shift slightly, as if hiding something from her. With quick reflexes, she reached into the pocket of Gaara's robe and pulled out a photograph.


She ignored his sudden outburst and stared at the picture. It was just a plain girl with deep violet hair and pale eyes. At first, Temari didn't understand why Gaara would have such a picture of a girl until a sudden realization came over her. "Her eyes- They're the eyes of a Hyuuga!"

She gave him a full on smirk as he struggled a bit with his response. Poking him in the chest, she continued her teasing "I know full well about your engagement to the lucky Hyuuga, but I didn't think you'd already be so infatuated with her just by looking at her picture."

At her emphasis on the word 'picture,' Gaara lost his composure for a split second, then hurriedly grabbed the photo from her, placing it back within his robe. "I- I have no idea what you're talking about." Without looking back at his sister, he began making his way to his study. "If you'll excuse me, I have to go and make some last minute preparations."

"Heh, you really are hopeless." Temari watched with a smile on her face as Gaara made his way to his study. In all honesty, she was happy that Gaara was so excited to welcome his new fiancé to his home. "And who knows?" Temari whispered as she turned and made her way towards the front door. "Perhaps the girl will give you the love you've always yearned for."

~End Chapter~

I apologize so much for the long wait! I know that I haven't updated this story in over a year, but still, I hope that you readers will give this story a chance! :) I finally have my muse (and time!) back, so I am now dedicating my summer to updating all of my past stories.

Leave some reviews (but please, no flames! If you don't like it then please, don't force yourself to read it), and I promise I will update ;)

I apologize for any mistakes, and I hope you enjoyed reading :)!