Young Hearts Run Free

Hyuuga Hinata

Iorekbyrnison

When she was a child Hinata Hyuuga thought her baggy clothing hid her insecurities from the world. She though the empty spots around her skin was comforting, that she could look out from underneath bulky fabric to see people, her fellow villagers and her family, for what and who they really were while she remained unseen and unjudged. Looking back on it Hinata could laugh. The notion was a ridiculous one because the only things those clothes hid was some meager inches of pale skin and a scrawny kid from herself.

When she was younger Hinata Hyuuga thought she was in love with Naruto Uzumaki. The boy was completely different from the bleak and rigid Hyuuga clan that she hailed from. Naruto was like the sun and at the time Hinata fancied herself the moon. She thought herself an entity that was governed by sunrise and sunset and the power she was given allowed her to govern the tides of her own life. When Hinata watched Naruto she felt stronger, like the moon which forever stood in the shadows of the sun, but was just as necessary, just as important for its shining presence.

Hinata admired Naruto's perseverance. She admired that he could smile despite the villagers confusing hatred towards him, but once again an older Hinata could see that those were foolish thoughts. How could she truly be in love with someone if she couldn't even love herself? How could she love Naruto when she found that the image she'd idolized was a mask, an invisible armor that wound around her childhood friend in a desperate attempt to shield against the hateful glares and words of the villagers? Naruto inspired her yes, but only so far as to reach the first plateau of her life. She was still a stuttering mess around the boy. She couldn't look into his beautiful blue eyes and offer any kind of encouragement when she saw very clearly without the Byakugan how much he hurt inside. At the time Hinata was useless, not even good enough to defeat her younger sister in a spar much less her own self-doubt or even reach the lowest level of expectations the entirety of the Hyuuga clan was placing upon her thin shoulders. Hinata was unworthy. She was utterly worthless to love a boy whose will to survive, who personality was so strong that he forced the shinobi and civilians of Konoha to recognize him one by painstaking one.

When Hinata confessed her love to Naruto it was out of desperation. She knew Pein's attack was fatal. She knew even then that Naruto would not return her feelings though she was utterly bewitched by his power and sweet, sweet smile. Those crystalline blue eyes looked upon her that day in horror, in sorrow of all the things he'd already lost and would continue to lose if Pein wasn't stopped. She wanted to comfort him even though her body was broken. She wanted to shield him from the pain that he suffered all of his life and as much as she wanted him to love her back she knew that she was not strong enough. At the time she thought there would be no more chances. As undeniably confident she was that Naruto would succeed, she was also as confident that she would not survive her wounds. Just as her body reacted by stepping into Pein's attack, her lips reacted by spilling forth her deepest secret.

"I love you." They were simple enough words. Unspoken and unheard they'd always done her little harm in life, but she felt that Naruto should hear them from her at least once before she was gone. Those words in the battlefield though became laden with lost hopes and chances, with broken dreams and shattered expectations. She wanted then for someone to know her utterly from underneath the baggy clothing she wore. She wanted Naruto to see her as a woman, not as an acquaintance.

When she woke up two days later to find Konoha unharmed and Naruto the new savior of the village, Hinata was ashamed of herself. Her interference almost caused Naruto to lose himself to the Kyuubi when he thought she was dead. Hinata thought she'd gotten stronger. She thought she'd grown as a shinobi, but the truth was she was more than worthless. It was shameful, Hinata knew, that she was willing to throw everything away on a suicidal love confession. She was willing to throw her responsibilities as a clan heir and a shinobi of Konoha on her childish feelings because that's certainly what they were. Hinata's friends claimed to be proud, maybe they were, but they weren't the ones waking up in the Hyuuga compound to the silence of the early morning wondering why. Why? Naruto was the largest aspect of her life. He was the one who'd taught her lessons nobody else could, valuable lessons, but he was not the only aspect of her life. He would be ashamed by her reasoning probably and Hinata still could not bear that.

Hinata judged herself based not on the expectations of other nor her own goals, but the lofty dreams of marrying a boy she'd been infatuated with since the first day she'd met him at the Shinobi Academy. It was a bitter thought that all she'd worked for was for naught. While she lay in her bed that first morning and the grey days afterwards Naruto was already gallivanting across the country side to prevent a new great war. She would never measure up to that, never would she be worthy of that determination as she was then. Hinata needed to gain the will of fire.

So Hinata trained. She trained until she could defeat Hinabi one handed. She trained until she was on par with her prodigy of a cousin Neji Hyuuga. Hinata trained until she beat the title of Hyuuga clan head from her father's prideful fingers. She improved and improved hoping to never hit a plateau, never to falter at the peak of a tall mountain as she often did in childhood.

Naruto was unable to stop the war. Uchiha Madara was an unforeseen variable in all the hidden nations' plans. War ripped through the land like a tsunami leaving an ocean of bodies behind it Allied soldiers and Akatsuki minions alike. Hinata saw death more times than she cared to, but it was with no small amount of pride that she and the other rookie twelve carved their names into the bingo books. Sure, the other nations had their fair share of war heroes, but the Konoha shinobi were all like demons on the battlefield, an unconscious tribute to their jinchuuriki friend on the front lines. Konoha's will of fire burned brighter and brighter until even Madara with his captured tailed demons could not withstand the heat and succumbed, finally, to a permanent death.

It took a while, but the world settled down almost like it was breathing a sigh of relief. For a long time the hidden villages were content to rebuild and replenish shinobi ranks and even after that the camaraderie of the Allied forces continued with few serious problems. Nobody wanted to repeat another great war so soon. In Konoha the physical damage was minuscule except perhaps the loss of large numbers of shinobi, but the village was happy, bustling from post war profits, whole, and most importantly changed forever. Hinata found her position as clan head taxing, but not as difficult as she imagined. She was twenty when she officially took on the role and as expected her only major hindrance was a council of elders whose taste for power was larger than necessary and whose views on how the clan should run were far too outdated. Hinata was certainly busy, but it was a profitable sort of work. She managed within the first year of her term to accomplish the one goal she'd always held close to her heart: the removal of the caged bird seal.

The Hyuuga were a very private clan. Hyuuga secrets were to remain secret, but within hours of the decision on the seal the majority of Konoha knew about it. Neither the main family nor the branch family could contain themselves whether in fury or in utter happiness. Hinata herself couldn't contain the shock she received when her normally distant cousin Neji gathered her into his arms in a hug that almost suffocated her. His milky eyes swam with tears of joy and his fingers trembled as they touched an unmarred forehead. Hinata wondered what it was like to have absolute freedom after being branded for so long and decided she would be content with life if she could make her clan happy and prosperous in the remaining years of her life.

As for Naruto, well, by the time Hinata was fully entrenched as the Hyuuga clan head, the blonde shinobi was only a year away from taking his rightful place as Hokage of Konoha. The Naruto, the real Naruto that she knew once she stopped hiding from herself and he stopped hiding from everyone was genuine. Naruto was still handsome; Hinata could not lie about that. He was stronger too; stronger than even the Yondaime Minato Namikaze from whom it was discovered Naruto was sired. Like his father before him, Naruto was one of the few shinobi still living who had a "flee on sight" warning next to his name in the Bingo books.

The respect the villagers showed him was humbling too. Hinata often looked back to the time where the blonde was the outcast, the child parents warned their own children not to play with, the child that Hinata watched so obsessively and admired from afar in her youth. The same inspiring light he'd unknowingly showed her in childhood was now a beacon that spanned the entirety of the Shinobi world. Naruto not only was respected by the citizens of Konoha, but also by the leaders of each and every village that made up the allied forces during the war.

It would be a lie, even now, to say that Hinata did not love Naruto Uzumaki, but that love had shifted over the years to a love a sister holds for a brother. It was clear that Naruto held no affections other than friendship towards her and Hinata was content with that just as she was now content with herself. Truly Hinata felt as if she'd grown from that silly girl who hid behind bulky clothing and a stiff clan name. Her love for Naruto was something she cherished, but also something she realized long ago was another thing she could hide behind. If she loved Naruto she would always prop herself up against him, but he always moved to fast for anyone to catch up to. Hinata learned the best that she had to stand on her own two feet. She had to walk forward at her own pace, to judge herself harshly, but fair. Naruto still inspired her. That fact would always be true, but Hinata liked to think that maybe she inspired him a little too these days. She hoped that she helped him like he always helped her.

For the first time in a long time Hinata felt worthy to be a shinobi of Konoha, the friend of Naruto Uzumaki, and a person her young, foolish little self could look to in pride. It was nice to be Hinata Hyuuga.

-AN: AND I almooost hit 2000 on this one, but not quite. I hoped you enjoyed this one as Hinata isn't generally my favorite character. I just felt she needed a little redemption since she basically fails most of the time. As always reviews are very nice. I always appreciate them.

Until next time!