A/N: Sorry for the super long wait! And I hope you don't kill me when you read this boring chapter, but it needed to be done and get out of the way for this story to progress correctly. By the way, if I didn't mention it before, they're 17 now. And if you see italics that means it happened in the past or it's a thought, and if you suddenly see normal writing in the middle of the italics, know that it's a thought. Thank you for reading and please review :)
11 Years Ago
The sun was up and the wind was warm, the chirping of birds was audible and the kids decided it was the perfect time for some well-deserved playtime. It wasn't every day the whole group had time to play outside without any further obligations.
Although, there was always one boy who had all the time he needed. Even if he didn't want it.
So, as the children ran around, gathering in their secret hideout, their leader, a certain blonde hyperactive child began forming their game plan.
"Okay everyone, listen, if we want to beat the other team, we have to think really hard, since they have Sasuke on their team!" the blonde announced, unofficially asking for the other kid's help.
"But, we have Shikamaru to help us with the thinking part" piped up another blonde, this one female.
"You're right Ino, but we'll need someone who is athletic too, because Sasuke is scary with his fast running" Kiba, a rather stubborn child said.
"Well, we do have you, and Hinata's a professional dancer who runs all the time" Ino retorted, still feeling confident enough.
Hinata's head suddenly looked up from the ground, looking at Ino with wide eyes. She then looked at everyone around her and nodded slightly, agreeing she is indeed a fast runner. "B-but, if it's just the t-two of us, t-then we won't win. They have Shino who is a-also fast, and Sakura is faster than me" Hinata stated shakily, afraid of disappointing her friends.
"But, we have one more person than they do, so now we have a chance to beat them. And besides, I'll take care of Sakura, so you don't have to worry about her" the blonde leader encouraged, not noticing what great affect his words made.
"Alright, this is our plan. Ino will take care of Chouji, I'll take care of Shino, Kiba will take care of Sasuke, and you take care of Sakura" Shikamaru concluded, pointing to his leader at the last statement.
"That's perfect! And then Hinata can go and capture the flag!" the male blonde practically screamed at the end of the complicated brain work.
Hinata once again looked up from the ground, this time looking solely at the source of the noise.
8 Years Ago
Hinata slowly made her way down the corridor, careful not to wake anyone up, especially her father. Although, chances are he's already awake.
Today was Hinata's birthday, and as her bare feet touched the cold tiles of her home, she sped up thinking about her destination.
Today was the day she would finally celebrate her birthday with her hero. Her determination peaked the minute she thought of him, even more than when she would perform, more than when she would study.
Always more with him.
So as she put on her boots and stepped out of the pavement, she was surprised and rather skeptical when she found Kiba and Shino, her friends since diapers, the only ones waiting for her.
This was odd. Every year it's become practically tradition for the whole group of friends to be together whenever one had a birthday. So why weren't they all here now?
"H-hi Kiba, Shino. Where's e-everyone?" Hinata asked in a soft, shy voice. She looked down, already feeling rejected and unimportant in her friend's hearts. The confidence she's built up over the years has suddenly vanished and she honestly believed everyone has forgotten about her birthday and are still asleep in this cold morning.
"Well… you see, everyone kind of…"
"Happy birthday Hinata!" Kiba was cut off by a lot of voices Hinata immediately recognized as her beloved friends.
Everyone, even the ones she was a little more distant with was there, all running towards her and catching her in a demanding and chocking bear hug, Ino jumping on her and dropping alongside with her to the snowy ground.
Hinata's face beamed, and she didn't care whether it hurt that she fell, because the radiating warmth of her friends was enough to sooth the fall. She smiled the brightest smile, and laughed as she ran along and hugged each and every one of her eight friends, suddenly losing her shyness around the boys.
Kiba laughed and said, "I bet you really believed everyone forgot about your birthday! Don't be silly, who can ever forget about you?"
Hinata blushed and looked around, searching for the one who occupied her thoughts mere moments ago.
Oh, there he was, smiling randomly next to Sasuke. In Hinata's eyes, his smile is the most beautiful smile in the world, always there to comfort and always as radiant as ever.
The day was spent with the children running along in the snow, playing around and throwing snowballs on one another. By the end of the day, every single child was shivering and wet, finding comfort in the warmth they gave each other with closeness.
Naruto stepped out of the little huddle he had with Sasuke, and walked over to Hinata, his ever present smile still strong.
"Hey Hinata! We haven't had time to talk to each other alone today" he started, and Hinata merely nodded her sudden shock at his appearance.
"So, I just wanted to tell you happy birthday" he finished and gave her a strong hug, making her blush tomato red and barely hug him back.
For Hinata, this moment made her whole day better by at least three times. For her, Naruto could make the worst day into the best day with just a few words. For Hinata, Naruto was the light. Naruto was the sun.
4 Years Ago
Hinata blushed as she quickly made her way from one class to the other. She didn't want to stay around in the crowded, noisy hallways of middle school. So as Hinata entered her classroom, she was rather surprised to find the popular Sakura Haruno already seated in class chattering with an unresponsive Sasuke Uchiha.
It was no secret Sakura was after Sasuke since anyone can remember, but to still be after him after countless rejections was something that should be respected.
Is what Sakura herself believes.
Everyone else, whether they admit it or not, think she is simply too pushy and egoistical to be rejected. They know she is after him only for his good looks, since obviously he hasn't done anything personality-wise to gain her love and adoration.
Sakura was popular, and Hinata could only sigh as she watched the nearly desperate Uchiha trying to get her away from him. If anything, Sakura found that encouraging since he was finally paying attention to her.
As Hinata sat herself down on her seat, she looked at her feet and stretched them, having had a long practice session dancing last night. She loved to dance, and decided years ago to quit ballet and start hip hop. Her father was not pleased, but learned to accept it stating her mother never liked ballet in any case.
So as Hinata prepared her desk for the nearing lesson, a cheerful voice was heard from the doorway of the classroom.
His voice. Her favorite sound of all time. She uncontrollably blushed and looked towards the door, seeing him for the first time today. She didn't miss the way he looked at Sakura before heading on towards her and Sasuke, giving Sasuke a small pat on the back which was returned. Hinata didn't miss the way Sakura pretty much ignored him, although many girls would wish for his affection could only look from afar as the ever- stubborn Sakura only looked at an emotionless hottie such as Sasuke.
Once Naruto greeted his friends, he finally made his way to Hinata. Naruto never forgot his old friendship with Hinata, and would always make sure to greet her every day.
He's so kind, thought Hinata. She didn't fail to realize how a few of her old friends have forgotten about her, or rather, ignored her as they became popular. A perfect example would be Sakura. She became popular and pretty, and thus decided she was above Hinata and just shut her out.
Another one of those people are her once dearest friend, Kiba. Once Hinata realized Kiba was trying his hardest to block out Hinata and her attempts at hanging out with him, she was so hurt she cried the whole night.
Now Kiba was very popular, but she felt he wasn't happy, and felt a little sorry for him.
But, there were friends that became popular and still haven't given up on their friendship with Hinata. One of them was Ino. She was one of the prettiest girls in the grade, but she still remains close to Hinata and for that Hinata is grateful.
Hinata blushed as Naruto stood close to her desk and said, "Good morning Hinata, how's your day so far?"
"G-good morning N-Naruto. My day's been g-great, how about you?" she replied, trying her best not to stutter.
Naruto smiled brilliantly and answered, "Awesome, hey Hinata I still don't understand why you won't sit with us at lunc-"
Naruto was cut off by the entering teacher and forced to his seat. He looked behind him worriedly at Hinata who looked down with a sad look in her eyes.
He didn't understand… he didn't understand she was not wanted in their lunch table at all.
3 Years Ago
"W-what do you mean y-you're leaving?" asked a shocked Hinata as she looked at the calm face of her beloved.
"I'm not exactly leaving, you know? It's only for three years and besides, you won't even feel it. I'll be back before you know it" he reassured. Hinata didn't believe him, he just didn't understand.
She looked down at her feet and tried to hold the tears. He was leaving with his best friend to study abroad for three years because they both agreed it would be a needed experience for their future.
But she still hadn't gotten him to like her yet! He still liked Sakura, how could he already leave?
"B-but, what about e-everyone here? What a-about Sakura and a-all your friends? Don't you f-feel like y-you should st-stay?" she asked, her lips trembling slightly from the fighting cry that was dying to come out.
Naruto looked past her, his eyes softening a bit. "Sakura will always be Sakura, and apparently I need to change for her to like me. So that's what I'll do. When I leave, I will change myself to be even better than Sasuke at everything" declared Naruto, his voice as hard and determined as stone and his eyes set, he looked at Hinata before patting her shoulder in a friendly way.
"I'll miss you" he said and before she could reply he hugged her tightly and once he released her, he smiled again, and said, "I have to go, take care Hinata. Don't forget about me!" as he started running away.
How could she forget about him? He was the most precious person in her life, her sunshine, her courage, her love. He was everything. If he wants to change for Sakura, a girl who barely bothers to shift her eyes to him, then so be it. She will also change. For him. He wants someone as cheerful and pretty as Sakura? Fine. He wants someone who has womanly appeal that can attract him? He'll get it.
Because he just didn't understand that she would do anything for him, that he is her everything.
And as she collapsed on the ground and cried, she has decided that she will change to be the perfect girl for him, so that no matter if he is madly in love with Sakura, his attention will be forced to her.