A/N: Man, I cannot believe that it's been more than a year since I've updated. I've got no excuse other than disinterest, but you know how that goes… For some reason I got inspired to continue after listening to Vesuvius by Sufjan Stevens , so please enjoy the product ( that is, if it's good; heh).
Anyways, thanx for all the reviews and patience… So without further ado, please read and enjoi!
Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto.
Her legs were crying out in pain from standing still for more than four hours. Her nose felt raw, and her eyes felt as if they were deeply bruised, as keeping them open seemed to be harder with each second that passed. The young Hyuuga couldn't find it within herself to care about such inconsequential physical aches though; especially not when she was plagued with aches of the emotional variety.
The new widow stood by Hinata's side, clutching her hand so tight that it bordered along the lines of being painful. The child didn't complain. If anything, she held on just as desperately. The warmth was nothing, if not welcome. The harsh winds of the early evening were not kind, and Hinata was grateful; even if her mother could not hold her in public, she could at least offer her this one small comfort. The tears had stopped a couple of hours back, and everyone else had long deserted the freshly set stone before that. All that remained were the two branch members.
Hinata's eyes were glued to the kanji that made up her father's name that was etched into the thin column of stone. Despite the fact that they were growing heavier with each moment that passed, her large pearl-like orbs haven't shown any signs of wanting to move from where they currently rested. She felt like she could stare at "Hyuuga Hizashi" forever.
Said child flinched at the croaking sound of her mother's voice, one that she had not heard since that day. Hinata blinked a couple of times to clear her hazy vision before turning her twin pools of lavender to the woman at her side. The young girl was rewarded with a shaky hand cupping her icy cheeks, the warmth unmatched.
"Listen well child." Hizashi's wife removed her hand from Hinata's face and down to the child's funeral kimono, straightening it up here and there. "This is the last time that you may openly mourn your tou-san. You may cry once more, but after that, we must return to our duties as members of the branch."
Hinata had to tear her eyes away from her mother just then. She couldn't help but feel a slight tug in her chest at how… Open the usually closed off woman looked at that moment. The elder Hyuuga's long indigo hair—which Hinata inherited—was tied back in a low bun, a few stray strands falling free and into the woman's tired, puffy eyes. Though her face spoke of grief, Hinata could tell that the woman was already starting to rein it in. It wouldn't be too long before her 'kaa-san' went back to her usual solid state.
"You must not come here every day either. If you do, the elders will see this as a sign of weakness and you will no longer be Neji-sama's guardian." The woman straightened and turned towards the memorial once more. "We will stay here for a minute longer. Make sure to say good-bye, Hinata-chan."
Hinata's eyes snapped back to her father's stone as well, the familiar stinging of her eyes rising up once more. I can't come to visit tou-san every day? Won't he get lonely? Hinata blindly reached for her mother's hand once more as a new sharp pain shot through her already aching chest. How will I talk to him and tell him about my day? How will I let him know how I'm doing with my training? Who will let me know if I'm being studious enough in our Hyuuga arts if not tou-san? He's always checked in on me… Even if he were sick, he'd come out long enough to watch over me as I trained… Tou-san…
There was a sharp tug on the young Hyuuga's hand. "It's time, Hinata." The widow tightened her hold on the smaller hand that was safely encased within her own before turning away from her late husband's memorial stone, pulling her daughter with her.
Hinata allowed herself to be dragged away without much fight, save of the fact that she wasn't putting forth much effort into moving. The young guardian blinked at the sudden change of her surroundings and ignored the feeling of blood circulating throughout her legs once more from the movement as she glanced over her shoulder for one more look at "Hyuuga Hizashi". Goodbye… Tou-san…
The last tear that could be publically shown was shed.
Her mother was right about how everything would be returning to how it had been prior to Hizashi's death.
The next day, as Hinata made her way through the compound to the branch family's training grounds, she noticed how the looks of sadness that she and her mother were bestowed yesterday were gone. Almost everyone who usually ignored her, did, and those who usually greeted her gave her their customary "good morning" before returning to their daily work.
Hinata wasn't ignorant to how the noble Hyuuga clan acted; how they all tended to compose themselves with the upmost grace and hid their emotions behind stoic masks that hinted at nothing… but she had never believed that they never cared… Not until she took a couple of steps forward and saw her mother conversing with one of the elders with relative ease. There was no hint of the woman that had held her hand in the cemetery yesterday.
Hinata took a step back from the scene, her lavender eyes flicking over her fellow clansmen and flinching at the sight of everyone acting so… normal. They all loved tou-san… How can they act as if he isn't dead? She thought, clutching at her sleeves and holding herself, if only to keep her weeping heart at bay. For the first time in a long time, her own house felt… cold. Hinata spun from the sight, intending to escape this obtuse universe, only to collide into someone's stomach.
Hinata gasped as she managed to right herself before she tumbled to the ground. "G-Gomen!" She rubbed the tip of her nose before glancing up to face the person that she had run into.
There stood a branch member that Hinata recognized as Neji's temporary guardian, who was staring down at her with a determined expression on his face. "Hinata, ne?"
Does my reputation really precede me? Hinata thought, her cheeks flushing lightly as she stared up at the teen that stood before her. She may have been an adequate martial artist under her father's tutelage, but outside of a fight, she was relatively…clumsy. "H-Hai…" She believed his name was Ko, but she didn't want to be making any assumptions, so she kept her mouth shut.
"Aa." He nodded briefly before squaring his shoulders. "Hiashi-sama requests an audience you."
"W-With m-me?" Hinata's perfectly white teeth peeked out of her mouth and chewed on her lower lip nervously. There was no one that she wanted to see less than her uncle… Her father's twin brother. "D-Do you—."
"No. Hiashi-sama merely ordered me to inform you as soon as I could." Ko eyed the girl before him before laying a—what he thought—reassuring hand on her shoulder. "I doubt that you're in any trouble, Hinata-chan; however, you should be going now, even if this meeting hasn't anything to do with punishment, it would not do to keep Hiashi-sama waiting." He patted her shoulder once more before lightly angling her body towards the direction of the main family's half of the manor.
She didn't doddle. She was standing before the doors of the study a few minutes later, unable to keep her hands from twiddling with a loose piece of fabric from her training clothes' sleeves. She didn't know what to expect… Was she to—?
"Enter, Hinata." The deep timbre that sounded so similar to that of her father's sent a sharp stab of pain through her chest. She bit down hard on her bottom lip to keep the cry that she wanted to release inside, relieved that the sharp stinging pain was enough to overpower her emotions at the moment as she proceeded through the sliding door. Hinata kept her eyes carefully trained on the ground; she could deal with hearing the voice that sounded so similar to her father's, but she couldn't survive looking at her father's elder twin brother.
Hiashi studied the slight wisp of a girl that stood before him; a mere shell compared to the reserved yet confident expression on her face when he had praised her a couple of days prior to Hizashi's death. Her legs were drawn in towards each other and her dainty hands fidgeted at her sleeves, nervously curling them amongst stray strands of cloth. Her very stance screamed of growing timidity, and it only cemented Hiashi's resolve on the matter at hand.
He watched as the child gave him a deep bow and didn't let up. She is most likely going to stay like that, even if I told her to straighten. He thought with his lips pulling down ever so slightly at the corners. He knew full and well that calling her for an audience so soon after Hizashi's death could be a gamble—his very presence could very well fracture her mentality at the moment, but he felt that this had to be done.
"Hinata. I called you here for a very specific reason. Your father wished for me to give this to you when I felt that you needed this the most… It seems that I did not make a mistake in calling you here now." He produced a scroll from his desk and calmly placed it on the chair closest to his niece. "Do with it what you will." He murmured before casting the shaking girl one last glance before exiting.
Hinata's hand was shaking as she reached for the scroll before her, she paused on the seal. This was from Tou-san… She nearly ripped it open right away, only to pause as something suddenly flashed through her head.
"I believe that you will become a splendid kunoichi, and I am proud to have you as my daughter."
Hinata gasped before dropping the scroll back on the chair. Hiashi-sama said that tou-san wanted me to have this when I needed this the most, but… He said that to me that day… He must've known that something was going to happen. She glanced back at the scroll. Her fingers itched to open it, but she couldn't. She had to physically walk away from the temptation. I'm sure that tou-san meant for me to open this later on… Once I've become the splendid kunoichi that he said I could be.
Hinata exited the room, pausing when she noticed her uncle sitting off to the side, his eyes automatically seeking hers. Hinata flinched behind the gaze for a second before hardening her resolve. She approached the head of Hyuuga, and bowed once more to keep her eyes away from his face. "Hiashi-sama… I-I appreciate t-that you kept t-the scroll for me, and if I m-may be so bold, c-can you continue to l-look after it u-until the time is right?"
Hiashi stared at his niece's hair, as that was all that she was permitting him, his dark brows raised high. He continued to stare blankly at the indigo haired Hyuuga before slowly nodding. "Very well Hinata. I shall continue to hold the scroll for you." He watched as the female's head dropped lower than before—in gratitude, he hoped—before scurrying off.
Hizashi… Otouto, we can expect great things from your daughter. She truly will become a splendid kunoichi…
A/N: Thanx for reading!