Next morning brought changes in both of their lives.
Hinata woke up much later than normal, the stress and strain of yesterday pressed her down and made her cry most of the night. And they new day proved to be one more challenge in her life. Her father left her a message to meet him as soon as she had breakfast.
"Hinata, we have many issues to discuss." He told her. "Your yesterday's fight proved you are physically capable to become leader of this clan, however there are also other preparations you have to go through before coming leader. "
"I understand father." She replied her head bowed in respect.
"From today we will not be meeting before dinner, but only at the beginning and end of each week. On Monday I will be giving you readings and tasks, and on Friday you will be reporting the results of your tasks. What is more I expect you will not neglect your trainings."
"Yes father." She replied.
He gazed at her deep in his thoughts. "One more thing, there is something you should realize. One of your basic duties as a future leader is to give this clan worthy heirs. I will not press you to marry just now, and I will not chose a husband for you, which was suggested by the elders. However I would like you to know that you should be wed in the near future, and that your future spouse must be worthy in my eyes and the gain the acceptance of the council. So having this in mind be careful where you place your sentiments, for the head is easy to set, but the heart is hard to change."
"Father?" She looked at his in amazement, not knowing if she should be scared of the demand he set ahead of her, or if she should go into the illuming feeling of lost emanating from her father.
"Remember to just keep your head before your heart. Your life is not yours anymore, you belong to the clan now." He said and got up to leave the room.
She just sat there amazed with all the changes, so it took several minutes before his words really reached her. After they sunk in, she suddenly realized one simply and evident fact. He expected her to find herself a husband "which would be worthy", and if not she would probably be forced to a husband set by the elders!
Neji's day was even worse than Hinata's. After the pressure of the night, he felt like hitting, biting, hurting someone. Despite all he was taught by his family about the gentle fist style, for once he wished he knew how to inflict brutal damage. How to inflict true external damage like his teammates. Sacred that he might hurt someone he stayed all night in the forest trying to fatigue himself enough to make him placid. It didn't really work, but when he finally set back into the village he felt calm enough not to kill anybody.
These feeling were puzzling. He hadn't felt that way since the tragic chunin exam, during which he almost killed Hinata. It was really unseeing that her sudden success made those feeling alive once more. And there he started considering himself as calm and in full-control of his life. His life was not perfect, but he had a feeling of going in the right direction. He had a successful career as a ninja, he was accepted even by the main branch of the family, and respected in the village. But the feeling that something was still missing in his life ,even after all those years. In fact he couldn't even remember a moment in his last years when he would actually feel happy. Content yes, vengeful yes, unhappy definitely yes, but happy never… Even when his friends were joking and having fun, we would remain calm, as if no stings in his soul were connected to those moments and those people. He liked them yes, however even he had to admit he didn't show it. Happiness , what was it anyway? He's seen people happy, cuddling, hugging, kissing, laughing. He's seen Naruto always joyful and happy, he's seen his team mate Lee getting up after the greatest defeat with a smile on his face.
As soon as he reached his room he noticed a note left there for him. A note which always meant no good. No branch member ever wanted to be summoned to the leader, and in his life he had been summoned already more time than all the other branch members together.
"Neji you're finally here…" Lord Hiashi greeted him clearly still lost in his thoughts.
"I'm sorry Lord Hiashi, I had been training." He explained placidly.
"I'm sure you have…" The leader murmured. "Neji I summoned here because I have a mission for you."
Neji not surprised at all glanced at the floor.
"I want you to supervise Hanabi's training." Lord Hiashi said calmly.
"And one more thing. I would like you to investigate one issue. I need to find out whether Hinata is in love with somebody." Hiashi said.
Neji didn't even glance at him, but nevertheless he was surprised. Analyze Hinata's feelings? Why him of all people!
"Is that all Sir?" He asked after a longer period of silence.
"Yes that is all." Hiashi replied deep in thoughts and showed Neji the door out.
Analyze Hinata's feelings? For him she was an enigma. He never understood here at all. And this stupid love issue. In the past she was head over heels for Naruto, but Naruto kept running after Sakura until she finally accepted him. So the question was is Hinata still in love with Naruto? Or was there someone else in her heart? And why out of all the people in the world would Hiashi actually cared who his daughter loved?