Chapter Two

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Hinata must have fallen asleep at some point because she woke up the next morning tangled in her sheets. Her half-conscious mind was a jumble of facts and thoughts and pictures. So as she lay back on her bed she went through the exercises the old family doctor had taught her when she felt this way.

She began to recount basic facts and the events of the past day, slowly and in order from the simplest to the more complicated.

My name is Hinata Hyuga. I am 16-years-old. My family has just moved to Konoha. It is Sunday morning. I will be starting at my new school tomorrow. And… She half-sat up and looked at the boxes littering her floor. She flopped back down. And I have a lot of unpacking to do.

Hinata dragged herself out of bed and over to the pile of cardboard boxes that had been stacked in a corner of her room. Sitting back on her shins Hinata started to pull them out one at a time.

She sorted the cartons into piles labeled Clothes, Books, Music, and Room Stuff to make it easier for when she actually started unpacking. She didn't have that many so it didn't take long for her to come upon the last box at the very back labeled Miscellaneous. Hinata dragged the box away from the others and set it in front of her. She tapped her fingers on the lid, unsure, before deciding to finally open it.

Strong scents wafted from the box, both floral and slightly acidic. Inside were brightly colored stones, jars of powders and liquids, and bunches of dried herbs. There were also pieces of chalk and a large dusty leather book. Beautiful gems winked up at her from the faces of several charms and talismans. She laid out some of the objects in front of her, feeling the rough edges of an amethyst crystal. Her tools of the trade. The tools that were to remain a secret from anyone outside of the family. They looked so harmless sprawled out prettily in front of her.

But it didn't matter how pretty they were. If someone, anyone, found out about them, her family's secret would be discovered and they would have to move again. Because no one wanted to share a town with a family of witches, no matter how nice they are.

Her name was called from downstairs. Hinata neatly returned the items to their box, closing the lid. Then quickly she jumped up and made her way downstairs.

She leaned over the railing to see Neji looking back up at her. His mouth was set in a hard line and he looked tired. "Your father wants to see you," was all he said before he walked back into the living room, disappearing behind a wall.

Uneasiness rolled in Hinata's stomach as she descended the staircase. What could her father want to talk to her about? Hiashi Hyuga had always been a good father, looking out for his family, but he was known to be quite stern and a little cold. Still, Hinata had to have known that this would be coming. After throwing on some clothes and brushing out her hair, she slowly headed downstairs.

The door to Hiashi's office was ajar but Hinata knocked anyway, gently pushing into the room and calling to him. Her father stood behind a large desk, his back to her. Books and papers littered the desk top, a cup of tea sat steaming in the middle of it all. It looked like Hinata wasn't the only one who needed to unpack, she thought distractedly as she spotted the cardboard boxes stacked against the wall.

When her father turned to her, Hinata was taken aback by how tired he looked. The shadows under his eyes stood out against his pale skin. His hair didn't have the usual sleek look to it and his clothes were slightly rumpled. He must have been up since early that morning. A sudden feeling of guilt washed over Hinata.

"Hinata," Hiashi sighed. He waved her over to the desk as he sat down in his leather chair. Closing the door quietly, Hinata stood in front of her father and waited.

"Yes Father?"

Hiashi rubbed his hand over his face. "Hinata, we need to discuss what happened in Suna."

Hinata's heart instantly dropped. She lowered herself into the chair beside her, across from her father. "Of course, Father."

The ticking of the wall clock sounded like earthquakes as the seconds slid by. Hiashi placed his elbows on the desk, resting his mouth against his laced fingers, then unlacing them and rubbing his face again and then lacing them once more. "Do you know how long it took me and the other elders to perform memory wiping spells on everyone who had been at the square that day?"

Hinata shook her head.

"Almost two days straight. Do you know how many cover stories we had to create for those people?"

Hinata said she didn't.

"Hundreds. Perhaps thousands. Hinata, do you…" He broke off in frustration. He started again, his calm attitude sounding almost forced. "I know that I don't have to explain to you that we are different, Hinata. We are not like most people. We are witches."

Hinata nodded.

"And as witches we are part of a very important race whose survival depends on secrecy. The Hyugas are known as the biggest, most powerful family of witches in our world. We set the example. We provide our kind with models of how a witch should behave. So how do you think it looked when one of our own nearly exposed our entire coven?"

Hinata couldn't answer. She couldn't even look at him.

Hiashi sighed again and walked towards his window, rubbing his temples. The bright sunlight only seemed to wash him out more. "Hinata, I know this wasn't your fault and you didn't mean for it to happen," he said softly. "But I thought you had your…problem under control."

So had Hinata. But the attack had been so sudden that there was no way she could have hidden herself in time. No way she could have prevented people from seeing what she truly was; a freak.

Because Hinata was different. And not just because she was a witch. Even as a witch she was something of a commodity. Hinata possessed a power not seen in a spell caster for hundreds of years; Hinata could see the future. Of course, all witches could see the future, but Hinata was different. A normal witch needed to perform a special incantation with herbs and powders and crystals in absolute ideal spell casting conditions. And even then they would only see a fuzzy shape or a few broken words. But not Hinata. Hinata had visions, images and scenes of the future that would appear in her head without any provocation. Though they were cryptic, they were clear. Sometimes she would see several items, clues she called them, or a scene from someone's future. The only trouble was that all of her premonitions were of bad things and they always came true. They also gave her a slight headache afterwards.

On that day in Suna, there had been a festival. It was a wonderful night, celebrating the founding of the city and every year a huge elaborate festival was set up in the city square. Everyone took part. It was the one event that Hinata looked forward to every year. She and her family would dress up, head into town and walk into the twinkling lights of the festival. Neji, Hinata and Hanabi would meet up with their friends and they would all go to the booths, playing games, going on rides and eating sweets. It was the most fun Hinata had all year.

She and her friends were at the ring toss booth when it happened. Hinata had not had a vision in so long that she let herself think she was becoming normal. But there was no warning when that vision came to her, no warning bells were ringing. She was in the middle of tossing a brightly colored ring, laughing with her friends when the pain struck, sharp and sudden to the back of her skull. It was like nothing she had ever felt before. Doubling over, Hinata fell to the ground, tears flowing down her cheeks, writhing and screaming in agony. Her friends just watched in horror.

The visions were cryptic as always but twice as horrific. It was dark, flashes of light illuminating faces, twisted and distorted as they screamed. And there was blood, so much blood. There was smoke and Hinata could feel herself choking on it. And she was falling, the ground rushing up to meet her at an alarming pace. Unable to contain the sights, her visions began to manifest themselves into words. "Falling," she cried, "no escape! Fast, so fast! Broken wings, 549, North 500 kilometers! Blood, help, Help, HELP!" A crowd had quickly formed around her, watching, whispering. Horrified, yet fascinated. Someone had called an ambulance, but other than that, no one moved to help her.

Soon, Hyugas were tearing through the crowd to get to her. Strong hands lifted her out of the dirt. Hinata looked up into the eyes of her father. She collapsed into his arms, sobbing hysterically as the last of the visions faded. He carefully led her away from the gaping onlookers as the rest of the coven swarmed the area to deal with the mess. Quickly she was loaded up into a van with her cousin and sister and they drove away to the compound, Neji never once letting go of her hand and Hinata more thankful for that than anything.

The next morning the remains of plane number 549 were found 500 kilometers north of the city square. The wings of the plane had fallen apart midflight. There were no survivors.

Hinata spent the rest of the day hiding in her house, ignoring the calls from her friends, the few who were still talking to her. That afternoon she and her family packed up and left for Konoha.

Since arriving in Konoha, that night had seemed like a messed-up dream. But now, sitting in her father's office, the reality of it all came rushing back. Hinata hung her head, trying to hide the tears she was failing to keep back.

Hiashi noticed the slight trembling of his daughter's shoulders. Something similar to guilt pushed against his heart. Slowly he moved to stand behind Hinata. She didn't look up when he hesitantly placed his hands on her shoulders in an attempt to soothe her. "I know it wasn't your fault, but…you have to try harder this time Hinata. If something happens here, then I don't know if the coven will forgive us as easily as before…I don't know what will become of us."

Hinata didn't move. Her hands were trembling so much. She gripped her skirt tightly to try and still them. She understood that her father meant well, but even when he tried to make her feel better he always only made it worse.

Wiping her eyes with the back of her hand, Hinata rose from the chair. She turned and bowed low to her father so he wouldn't see how red and puffy her eyes were. "Thank you, Father. You're right and I'm very sorry. I will try harder from now on." The words sounded hollow to her ears but she knew that they would make her father happy.

And she was right. He smiled approvingly at his daughter, patting her roughly on the shoulder, his idea of a fatherly gesture. "I'm very glad, Hinata. It's good we had this talk."

Hinata didn't say anything. Memories she had wanted to forget had been dredged back up, reopening wounds that hadn't had enough time to heal. Wordlessly she bowed to her father and slipped out of the office.

Somehow she was able to make it to the stairs without noticing Neji. He was sitting on the couch in the living room, staring blankly forward. Then their eyes met and they just looked at each other, Neji not moving from the couch, Hinata with her hand poised on the banister. He gave her a sympathetic look, but said nothing. That was fine with Hinata. He didn't want to ask and she didn't tell him. She didn't think she could bear the concern in his voice without crying. And if he had asked her about what had happened in the office, she would have lied. And he could always tell when she was lying. It just wasn't worth the effort and he knew that. So he stood up and walked back into the kitchen and they let it go.

Her feet made a swoosh sound as she ascended the carpeted stairs. The sunlight streaming through the window at the end of the hall seemed much brighter than it had when she woke up. Walking into her room, she closed the door, listening for the soft click. Then she leaned against the hard wood and stood there, surveying her room. Her eyes fell on the still open cardboard box, the twinkle of sunlight on glass bottles winking at her from over the edge of the box. She walked over and kicked it limply and ungracefully back into its corner. All she wanted was to climb back into bed and fall asleep. Perhaps the next time she woke up she could start the morning over again and everything would happen differently. Maybe she wouldn't be reminded of how horribly different she was and how much danger she had brought to everyone she loved. Perhaps she would be a different person altogether, someone better than weak, freak show Hinata Hyuga. In a desperate moment of hope she slid back into bed and pulled the covers over her head to block out the sunlight and went back to sleep. But when she woke up again the sun had sunken to the tree line and nothing had changed.