Naruto - The Next Generation. (Special Chapter)

Chapter 18 - Merry Christmas!

Many months passed with ease.

For Hinata, things could not have been better.

The Hyuuga clan was enforced to abolish the tradition of the clans curse mark on branch members. Neji, and branch members alike were now treated more equally. Though it was still obvious some lingering doubts came from the older members of the main ranch family. Hanabi was declared the heir, although Hiashi promised to take Neji into consideration. Since Neji's display in the chuunin exams when he was younger, Hiashi had always known Neji to be a true Hyuuga heir and genius. His opinion of Neji helped convince the elders of the clan to be more lenient towards Neji's actions. Neji's exceptional past having proven his genius with the Byakugan even gave him some leeway with the elder more stubborn clan members.

Naruto then let Hiashi take over mostly. Naruto still required time to deal with his duties as hokage. Hiashi left Neji to be in charge of passing all important matters to Naruto. For this Naruto was grateful. Since his fight with the Hyuuga head Naruto noticed a change in the mans stubborn old heart. He was still a stubborn old man, but he was softer now. More aware, perhaps; that the time for the next generation and even his succession was approaching.

The Hyuuga members originally dispatched to oversee Hinata's house had been reassigned the night of the cherry blossom festival.

Hinata felt finally, as though she were free from the association of being a 'hyuuga heiress' a 'main family member' and especially she was free of the endless glare of hatred that came from the branch members when they would near spit the words "Hinata-sama". To Hinata though, the most joyous thing was that she could now live.

Live in her own way, following her own path.

By Naruto's side, and Hana in toe.

Hana looked out over the view of the training grounds, as the view of the sunrise lit a brilliant yellow glow over the tops of the trees.
The wind was gentle as it brushed past her, rustling her hair.

This was going to be a big week.

She could feel it.

Naruto stared intensely.

He had to admit- He had no idea what he was doing.

He sighed and switched his view to the next option.

"Need help, Naruto?" Panicked, Naruto spun on his heels, his cheeks filling with a blush not going unnoticed.

"I-ino, I had no idea you were working today..." It was true, if he'd remembered Ino's family owned the flower shop, he probably would have double checked her activity status. Ino just sighed at his idiocy, but the surprise on his face made her snicker.
"And what brings you here?..." Naruto just blushed and turned back, to face his initial dilema.
That didn't stop Ino from peering over his shoulder.
"You're not seriously considering getting Hinata yellow daffodil flowers, are you?" Ino scoffed. Naruto's heart sank a little.
"What's wrong with yellow?..." Ino sighed.
"You really don't know anything about the delicate language of flowers, huh?" She paused, his bewildered and embarrassed face amused her. Like a cat playing with a mouse.
"Don't tell me... This is the first time you've bought flowers?..." His blush deepened as he turned away. A bad attempt at trying to hide his nervousness.
Ino sighed.
"Do you even know what her favourite flower is?..." She paused waiting for an answer. none came, just a shake of Naruto's head.
"Idiot! How can you expect to buy flowers she'll like if you don't know what her favourites are?!" Ino's temper rised. Flowers were her thing. Naruto's idiocy, though innocent, was beginning to frustrate her. Naruto lowered his head like a misbehaving child."Can you help me?" Ino stared at him. In a small pleading bow he looked pathetic. And yet, she could help but pity him a little.
"Alright well, do you know her favourite colour? We can at least start with that..." Naruto shook his head. A vein cracked in Ino's head. She understood why Sakura always hit him for being an idiot.
"Well... She's got pale lavender eyes so maybe stick to purple, pink and white as base colours." Ino rummaged through the stock of flowers. She plucked small handfuls of queen Annes lace, used for complimenting the larger, more colourful, Lavender coloured irises and azaleas, a pale pink with yellow centre.
"There! This should make a nice bouquet." Ino then arranged the flowers and wrapped them in a deep purple, a yellow ribbon tying them all together. Naruto watched Ino in her element. It was then Naruto realised something was different about her.

"Ino... Are you in a rush?" Naruto asked, catching her eye.
"What makes you ask?" Her cheeks flushing ever so lightly.
"You seem... In a hurry... Like you've got something important to do...?" Naruto watched her. He couldn't figure it out. Then again, reading emotions was never his strong point.
"And? what if I do? I have over clients, you know, Naruto..." She gestured to an old man looking through the bouquets.
"Alright, I get it, you don't want to say." He paused, then looked toward the door.
"But, you know... I've heard some rumours..." Ino glared up from the bouquet she'd fixed her attention to.
"That you were seeing someone... On your team..." Ino's eyes grew as wide as dinner plates.
"Oh!" She was shocked.
"Here! take your bouquet and get out of here!" Ino thrust the gathered flowers towards him. Naruto took the flowers from her, and handed her the money for them.
"And don't you dare spread that rumour! It's not true!" But her hand covering her severely flushed face did little to hide the embarrassment she felt.
"Wouldn't dream of it! But you really should stop hiding it..."Naruto chuckled before closing the shops doors.
"For Chouji's sake..." She heard the finishing words as the door closed.
Racing outside she was going to clobber him for that!...
But the moment she swung the shop door open he was no longer there.

"Dammit!" ...
'I hate that he's right...' She thought before turning to head back into the store.

Hinata looked to the small bag she carried and grinned.
She hoped Naruto would like it.
True she had made countless ramen dinners for Naruto, Hana and herself. She'd practically moved into Naruto's small house with Hana. Naruto had made it clear she was welcome to stay as long as she wanted. He even offered for her to live there since they were both Hana's parents. Hinata hoped it was more than that. Hoped it wasn't the only reason she was allowed to stay by his side. She found moments when she wondered. If it had not been for Hana, would Hinata have ever had the courage to be with Naruto as she was now? Would he have treated her the same way he does now? But she had to push these foolish and gloomy 'what if's aside. Now was not the time for heavy thinking, as tonight would be a night of celebration.
Tonight was Christmas eve!

She took one last look into the bag.
Both Hana's and Naruto's present had been a bit difficult to obtain, but her work was not in vain.
Naruto's had been especially difficult to get. She would have retrieved it herself, but the journey and time it would involve would have Naruto poking around where she didn't want him.
Hana's was a mixed bag. She decided that Naruto and Hana could share their gifts...
But she doubted Hana would share hers. She loved ramen just as much as her father.

Naruto was feeling terribly indecisive today. He had no idea how difficult this would be. He'd only realised yesterday what time of the year it was.
To think Christmas was arriving so soon!

Worst of all he had no idea what to get Hana. He and Hinata had discussed it, Hinata had opted for buying a subscription to regular ramen deliveries, to which Naruto only felt a little pang of jealousy at. He wondered what Hinata might get him... Before he realised it he was being stared at by other customers. The flushed colour of his face giving away his train of thought.

Picking Hinata's present had been difficult enough. He had to consider a lot of options...
He found himself looking to thoughts of his father and what he might have bought in his situation.
Then Naruto realised in what situation he would have to consider Hinata. It caused him to blush.
If he were to consider himself as either of his parents he would have to be more like his mother.
But this time had to be different. He would have to be gentlemanly.
He would have to plan this all perfectly...

Granted, he still had no idea what he could get for his daughter.
He sighed in frustration as he looked to the gift wrapped box. Hinata's present had arrived just some hours ago. It was amazing really, how quickly and expertly it had been made. Then again, it did cost an awful lot, and his wallet was in a pinch. He sighed. He'd really gone all out this year, spending a lot of his savings on a present for them both to enjoy. Yeah, he'd really gone all out this year.

Naruto tucked the small key, dangling round his neck; underneath his shirt.

Hana had been energetic all day. She was too excited.
So many people had flooded the streets today, with almost all ninja's having a few days off from missions.
She'd saved her money from missions and been able to buy a small present for each of her parents.
For her mother, she'd bought a delicate lavender coloured hairslide with finely crafted porcelain lillies decorating the silverwork.
For her Father, Naruto; she'd had a tougher time choosing. Eventually though, she'd settled on a small necklace.
The type you can individualize and make yourself. It was simple and she'd gotten help from her sensei, Konohamaru.
A toad shaped pendant made of hand molded coloured clay hung from a rope-like stap.
It was long but could be shortened once put on.
She smiled, tucking it back in the box.

"Hana, are you home?" Hinata looked around and found Hana sat at the dining table, two small gift boxes by her side.
"Tadaima! (I'm home!)" Hinata smiled, bending down slightly, as Hana runs and encloses her in a tight hug.
"Okaeri! (Welcome home!)" Hana replied, wrapped in her mothers arms.
Hinata released Hana and looked around the room.
"Hana.. Where's your father?" She thought he would be home by now, surely doing Hokage paperwork could wait.
"He's been out ALL day!" She said snickering. Hana peered behind Hinata to see a flushed Naruto with his hand to his lips in a 'shhh' gesture. It's have been a funny idea if prankster Naruto had gotten around Hinata's defences. Sadly, with her almost 360 degree view and byakugan, his stealth skills were no match.
Hinata spun around and sweep-kicked Naruto to the floor.
His face, planting into the ground, legs sprouted in the air.

"N-Naruto-kun!" Hinata exclaimed. Shocked, she went to Naruto's side and helped him up.

Hana just laughed.
"Ouch, my stomach... It hurts! ba..hahaha" She laughed uncontrollably for a good few more seconds.
Until Naruto flicked her on the head.
"Ah! Okay, okay, I'll stop.." Suppressed giggles still escaping her.
"Geez... Hana it couldn't have been that funny?.." Naruto frowned, the pain in his leg and head rung through him still.
"Pfft..." Naruto looked to Hinata. Her hand covering her mouth in a desperate attempt to cover her laughing.
'Not you too Hinata..." Naruto, feeling dejected sulked in the corner till they stopped their laughing.

"You know.. For the hokage you're not very graceful..." Hana snickered.
"Oh? Well...I don't have to be!" Naruto childishly stuck out his tongue. Hinata just giggled lightly at them.

"Okay, let's put our present under the tree before we have dinner." Hinata had ordered more expensive ingredients for tonight's dinner.

"Dinner should be ready soon." Hinata called down the hall to the bathroom. Naruto had gotten into the bath after Hana had finished with it.

Hana, now dressed in pajamas's came screeching down the hall. A large grin on her face.
"Can I taste it?" She asked, her eyes full of curiosity. Hinata giggled.
"No, you'll have to wait until it's ready... Plus, it'll be too hot and you'll burn your tongue!" Hinata said, trying to discourage Hana.
"So? ...I'll just blow cool air on it. It'll be fine then!" Hinata sighed."But it's not finished!" Hinata reminded her.
"That's okay, I'll be your taste tester!"
"But what if it tastes really gross and I haven't put in a special ingredient to make it perfect yet?!"
"I'm sure it'll taste great. Whatever you cook, it will always taste delicious because you put a lot of love into it." Naruto turned the corner to the dining room kitchen, a towel covering his drying hair. He grinned softly to Hinata. Hinata felt her cheeks grow hotter, as she turned back to the pot of ramen.
"Yay! You're out! Now dinner can start!" Hana cheered. She seemed more excited for food than for anything else.
"Haha, I am pretty hungry..." Naruto, too Hinata supposed was excited for food.

After they'd finished their dinner, Hana spent most of the time excitedly jumping up and down asking Naruto and Hinata what was inside the small gift wrapped presents. Naruto and Hinata denied her that information.

"It'll ruin the surprise for tomorrow." Hinata explained as Hana pouted to them.
"Hey, it's getting pretty late..." Naruto said, noticing the clock. 9pm was well past her bedtime.
Hana pouted.
"...I'll be good" Hinata leaned down and kissed her on the forehead.
"You already are, but unless you don't want Santa to come, you'd better get to bed." Hinata smiled.
"Besides, when you go to sleep, time flies by. It'll be morning before you know it!" Naruto grinned and plucked her up from the ground.
Together they headed into Hana's room and tucked her in, Naruto and Hinata taking turns in kissing her forehead. Before they left, Naruto remembered his dilema earlier that day.

"Say, Hana is there anything you'd want for Christmas?" Hana looked to the doorway that lit her parents backs, lighting her room.
"There is..." Hinata stopped to listen in.
"Well?" Naruto was eager to know.
"You'd think it's silly..." Hana looked away.
"What makes you say that?" Hinata smiled softly, reassuringly.
"Because I don't think Santa could bring it to me..."
"...What do you mean?" Hinata's eyes widened a little. She was curious, though.
"A little brother..." Hana couldn't see it but both Naruto and Hinata's face lit up like red Christmas lights.
"Or! A little sister... I'm not really bothered either way..." She smiled looking to the side. Even at six she knew it was a big ask of them.
"I just want a younger sibling. One that I can teach cool stuff to, and the will look up to me. Maybe even get stronger than me!" Hana grinned sheepishly.
"That is..." Naruto tried to say something.
"That sort of thing..." Hinata tried again
"Like I thought.. It's impossible afterall..." She turned on her side. A saddened expression on her face.

Naruto and Hinata both felt a stabbing to their hearts at Hana's dejected reaction.
"Well..." Naruto said, reentering the room to sit by Hana's side. He would explain this as best he could.
"Those sorts of things take time..." He turned to Hinata now, who had moved beside him.
"What were saying is... It's not a guarantee either way, but maybe if you just give us time to think about it... " Hinata looked to Naruto, then back to Hana. Hana had turned back around, her parents faces lit by the soft light from the hall by the open doorway.
"Just give us some time, first Hana. Can you do that?" Hana nodded softly and yawned. She was tired now.
"Goodnight, Usagi." They both whispered as they gently shut the door.

After gifts are placed under the tree, Naruto keeps his separately.
In the loungeroom, seated beside each other on the couch, Naruto turned to Hinata."Hinata..." She looked up, into his cerulean blue eyes.
"Yes, Naruto, what is it?" Naruto swallowed hard. He felt his palms grow sweaty.
"About... what Hana said..." He looked away from her pale lavender eyes.
The blush on his face deepening.
"...oh!" Hinata gasped. She blushed a deep red and averted her gaze. Though she'd grown more confident around Naruto over time, she still found moments of weakness when she'd revert back to her shy habits.
Naruto looked up to the clock. 12:02. Though it had been relatively silent after putting Hana to bed, he found it wasn't awkward with Hinata. It felt natural. Like he didn't have to say anything because he didn't need to.
"Merry Christmas, Hinata" Hinata looked back to Naruto's eyes.
The next sentence needed no words.
As Naruto's lips crashed into hers she felt every ounce of love contained in his kiss.
'I love you.'
Her return of his kiss left no doubt to her.
'I love you too'
Breaking apart Naruto stood and reached behind the couch. From there he picked up the bouquet of flowers and a small purple velvet box.
"Hinata..." He said softly. A look of complete love, tender and pure filled his features.
He handed her the bouquet of flowers. He'd originally considered getting her red roses for this occasion, but then reconsidered when Ino showed up. It didn't matter. Not now. Because he'd finally say the words he been dying to since he realized his feeling for her. He loves her. Not because of her looks, or that she is Hana's mother. Not her heritage or her bloodline. Not for her wealth or her social status.
He loves her for being her.
Swallowing hard, his palms were so clammy.
"Hinata..." He restated.
"You know, I love you... so much." Hinata's eyes widened.
Naruto lowered one of his legs to the floor.
"So... Even though I'm an idiot... Would you let me.." His throat grew dry.
The words he wanted to say so badly were now aching to come out.
Hinata's eyes welled up as Naruto opened to reveal the contents of the small velvet box.
"Will you be my wife, Hinata?" Hinata's eyes spilled over.
Naruto felt like he was suffocating in the moment of silence it took for her to answer.
Hinata's voice had left her. In this moment when she needed it to reply, all she could do was nod.
Then it came, tears flowing, her voice breaking with joy and happiness.
"Yes. Yes! Of course!" Hinata leaped into his arms. In a burst of relief adrenaline rushed through Naruto. He'd had some irrational fear she would reject him. He knew it was irrational when she'd kissed him back. but he couldn't help himself.

"Oh, one last thing..." Naruto said, a grin on his face. Hinata cocked her head to the side.
"Check the ribbon.." He said, gesturing to the bouquet. Hinata looked to the ribbon on the bouquet and gasped. Hanging on the ribbon was a small golden key.
"W-what?.." Hinata started at it, unsure if she knew what it was for...
"I'll show you the new house tomorrow" Naruto grinned.
Hinata's eyes went wide as she slid the key off the ribbon. Naruto reached for the necklace he'd worn.
Hinata hadn't noticed it but knew him to not wear any necklaces since the one Tsunade had given him had broken.
"H-h-h-h...House?!" Hinata squeaked. Naruto grinned at her.
"It'll be for all of us. Hana, you and me. I figure this small place was getting too crowded, and besides. This way, we can have as big a family as we want, without having to worry over space in the house." He chuckled sheepishly, a red blush covering his cheeks. Hinata was... surprised? no, shocked? no, not that... She was elated. A little scared, sure new things were always scary but even so, it wasn't a bad scared. It was a fear she'd wake up and it would be a dream. She had to be sure it wasn't. To put her fears at rest.
Hinata leaned up and kissed Naruto.
"Merry Christmas, Naruto!" She smiled softly.
They spent that night together, utterly in love.

Note from the Author:
I MAY write another chapter on this,
but will likely just make a sequel.

I still have places I want to take this storyline.
If I get enough love (Review, guys!)
then I'll make a chapter of the wedding.

Long chapter, since If I don't do a wedding chapter next,
I'll be finishing on this chapter here.
Please R&R, I really love seeing what you guys think.
Please don't be too crucial,
I realize there are some errors with the ages.
It's been a bother but I can't edit the chapters.
I may get around to it- but probably not ;/
Anyways, I really hope you've like this chapter.

I was soo nervous writing Naruto's propsal.
I hope it wasn't too shabby.
Inspired by how my brother proposed to his fiance.
Flowers, and a ring, in the loungeroom -
though, the detail were a little different.

Please R&R And I'll get to writing a
ULTRA FLUFFY NaruHina wedding for ya!