A/N: Set in Konoha, but the ninja academy is very selective and Hinata and her friends instead go to a normal high school. Hinata, Sakura and everyone else in their year are 16 to 17, allowing for birthdays. It isn't all straight forward, so I'll let you figure it all out. Just be prepared! *wink*

This is AU of course, and therefore OOC, but I will try to keep that one to a minimum.

1st person, from the perspective of Hinata Hyuuga! Enjoy!

Chapter 1 – The New Boy In Town

"Billboard brow!"

"Ino pig!"

I closed my eyes and covered my ears, unable to listen anymore. Sakura Haruno and Ino Yamanaka were my best friends, but they hated each other. Or at least, that was the common misconception. They argued, screamed at each other and fought over Sasuke Uchiha, but in the end, were always there for each other. It made me wonder if they just enjoyed the banter. I wasn't the most popular girl at school, but they were both well-liked, and treated me better than they treated each other (or anyone else for that matter).

Our school was called Konohamaru High, after the ancient name for our village, Konoha. There were several schools in this village, but most kids came here. I often wondered what it would be like to go to the Ninja Academy, where they trained you to defend the village and the surrounding region. It all sounded so glamorous and mysterious; the school board was too particular about who they took on as students. Prestigious as well. Bet it costs a bundle just to get your foot in that door.

I sighed, opening my eyes and uncovering my ears, realising the time.

"C-come on, g-guys," I stuttered. "The bell is a-about to r-ring."

And as usual, they stopped at the sound of my voice. Hinata Hyuuga, heir to the Hyuuga fortune and the girl least likely to raise her voice – that's me all over. My voice was soft and usually lost amongst the noises going on around me, but my friends reacted as though I had just spoken like an ordinary girl.

"Gee Hinata," Ino said curtly, a smile on her face. "You sure know how to get a girl's attention."

"Leave her alone, Ino pig," Sakura warned, looking furious.

I worried she was about to start the argument all over again. "Come on," I said more confidently, "or we'll be late for c-class."

That last stutter shattered my composure and I lowered my head.

"Grow a backbone," Ino said. "I know what you need; you need a boyfriend, that'll loosen you up!" She was alight with giddiness. "Yes, I shall find you a boyfriend, Hinata Hyuuga," she said melodramatically, and winked at me. "Just you wait, Ino, "love-match extraordinaire" is on the job!"

She left happily, practically skipping through the halls of our school. "Ignore her," Sakura said, locking arms with me. "You're perfect exactly the way you are."

I smiled and nodded. "K-kay."

Sakura and I shared almost every class together, and she was probably the one I got on with better, what with Ino always trying to change who I was; not that I loved who I was, but Sakura never snapped at me for stuttering, or being shy. She always told me that when I was ready, the boys would notice.

"You know," Sakura said, as we walked through the hallways. "Ino used to tell me that I was a flower bud that just needed to blossom. I think the same thing is true about you too. You're so shy, so nerve wracked around other people, but given enough time, you'll open up, in your own way."

"She t-told you t-that?" I asked, surprised. Ino was not a vindictive or nasty girl, but I couldn't picture her saying something so sweet.

Sakura nodded her head. "Yeah, funny huh? She's weird like that, more weird than she'll admit. She's so wrapped up in what others think of her, and what's in style, you'd never think there was wisdom beneath." She giggled. "Not that I can talk. My day starts and ends with Sasuke Uchiha and what new hairstyle or sexy outfit might get his attention."

"You're so c-confident," I said, trying to control my stuttering. "I'm just a s-stuttering f-fool."

Sakura stopped walking and eyed me, annoyed. "Don't you dare, no Hinata, don't you dare understate yourself! Ooh, this is all that Ino pig's fault! Just you wait until I get my hands on her! I'll make her rue the day she poked that pig-face out into the world!"

I laughed softly. "Th-thanks, Sakura. I feel better n-now."

She smiled, though I knew her well enough to know she still wanted to have a go at Ino. "You're welcome."

X X X

School was finished for the day and I started to walk home alone, glancing up at the Primary Building in the distance. It was the largest structure in the village and hard to miss. The strongest ninja in all of Konoha was the military leader, the Hokage – her name was Lady Tsunade. But a civilian leader, by the name of Lord Homura (an elderly gentleman), was responsible for the more day-to-day aspects. After all, Konoha wasn't some military dominant village or anything.

I chuckled at that and turned away from the sight. I had an assignment to finish before the end of the week and the need for help on the last leg of that torturous chore. There was a familiar, raven haired boy waiting for me when I got home. He always wagged the last class of the day, because he helped out in his spare time at his father's work – the Uchiha were the law enforcers of the civilian population in Konoha.

Sasuke Uchiha waved to me. He was sweet to me and always helped me with school work while Sakura and Ino were busy. Sakura worked in the canteen at the hospital, hoping to get her foot in the door as she trained to be a nurse. Only ninja had enough skill with the human body to be the doctors. It had always been this way – nurses were just assistants, nothing more.

Ino worked in her parent's flower shop and was never home when Hinata needed to study. The life of a socialite. I sighed. So Sasuke, the smartest boy in our year, was the only other option for me.

"Have y-you been waiting l-long?" I asked.

Sasuke shook his head. "But I just have to go pick up a friend before we start," he said. "He's just moved to Konoha and will be starting at Konohamaru High tomorrow."

"C-can I come with y-you?" I asked and he smiled, nodding at me.

"Sure," he said, losing his smile as several giggling girls waltzed past, staring at him.

But that was Sasuke for you. Even when he smiled, you just knew he would rather be somewhere else. He was aloof, expressionless, and quiet; this made him so mysterious, and girls love mysterious. But he had been my friend longer than even Sakura or Ino, though never a best friend or anything like that. It still surprised me that he was otherwise so nice to me.

I raced up to my bedroom, dropped off my school stuff and rejoined Sasuke outside. The main entrance to Konoha seemed to be our destination.

"So," Sasuke said, "your friend, Sakura Haruno is pretty."

I glanced at him, but he didn't say anything else about her. Was Sakura and Ino's fight over him about to have a winner? Part of me hoped not. What would it do to their friendship?

At the entrance gates, a lone, blonde boy greeted Sasuke happily. "Sasuke-kun!"

Sasuke growled. "I told you not to add that suffix to my name. Do you want another bruise?"

"As if Sasuke," the boy chuckled and turned to me. "Who is your pretty friend?"

I felt my cheeks warm, realising I had been staring at him, gobsmacked. He was so handsome!

"Hinata Hyuuga," Sasuke said, "this is my friend Naruto Uzumaki."

Naruto took my hand and kissed it. "Now, I have a reason to switch schools."

Sasuke narrowed his eyes at him. "Yeah, and then tomorrow, you'll be hounding the Hokage, wanting to be transferred to the Ninja Academy. Loser."

Naruto pulled a face at him. "Come on Hinata, let's leave this guy and you can show me around."

Sasuke smirked, glancing at me. "Okay Hinata, go with Uzumaki. But be warned: he bites!"

He was just being melodramatic, surely. He wouldn't act this way around anyone else. I felt like I was going to faint when Naruto held my hand in his.

"O-okay," I said and let him lead me away.

What was it about him that med me so giddy? I glanced back at Sasuke. He did not look happy.

X X X

A/N: Hope you like it, I finished it rather quickly. Tell me what you think, if there's any room for improvement! Review, please! I love reviews, and you do too! :]