Ch6. Cherry Blossom Festival!
After a month of searching Naruto began to give up on using the files as the only way to find Hana's mother. He also found that Hana was becoming much more preoccupied with the thought of going to the academy. It didn't take long to sign her up and get her ready, he even had her go to the more advanced classes. However he'd forgotten about the graduation ceremony being close to the time she was placed in the academy. As such, she was quickly graduated from the academy. She was officially one of the youngest Gennin in history, almost on par with Itatchi's own achievement. Being the youngest, she was often underestimated. It was all in her favor because then she would then show them wrong. However…
"Hey, dad!" Hana smiles, her team mates and sensei have left the Hokage's office and she stays behind.
"Hey" Naruto grins.
"So, I was wondering…" Naruto looks at her.
"What is it?" He smiles.
"Can I participate in the Chuunin exams? Their coming up soon and I wanted to give them a shot." Naruto stares at her, confused.
"Because your only 6"
"I said so."
"But, nothing! You're not doing it, that's final" Hana pouted. Naruto sighed.
"Look, you know I don't want you going because I'm worried I can't protect you. If you had something like Kiba's good smell as an early detection or Shino's bugs then I'd be less afraid because I know you'd be more aware of nearby dangers"
"I know dad, it's just… I really think I'd pass it if you give me a shot"
"And what does your sensei say?"
"Konohamaru Sensei says that I have great potential and I shouldn't waste it." Naruto smiles.
'So even Konohamaru's grown up' Naruto sighs.
"Nope. If you find your mum ask her for permission" Hana's expression drops. Hana grumbles then walks out, but momentarily walks back in.
"I almost forgot, tonight there's a festival. Can we go?" Hana looks up at him. Naruto smiles then say's
"Sure, I'll just send some clones and get changed and we can go, okay?" Naruto then conjures three clones and then he walks up to Hana, picks her up and puts her on his shoulders.
"Is any of your squad coming?" Hana nods.
"Yes they said their going in an hour."
"I guess we better go get changed then" Naruto then carries Hana on his shoulders to a tailor to get a yukata for her, and to get a new one made for himself.
Hana chose a light blue colour for hers, and Naruto sticks to his ever-present theme of orange and black.
With Hana on his shoulders, Naruto makes his way to a famous district used for festivals. People stare at Naruto and Hana, but Naruto is well aware their stares are not menacing. The people of Konoha have grown to truly respect and admire him as their leader and as a ninja. Their stares were mostly directed at Hana, and since Hana's enrolment to the academy many had suspected they were father and daughter. Though Naruto was long off announcing it he decided to not lie, nor tell the whole truth. Hana wanted to keep it secret all together and deny him as her father. Instead of being angered Naruto figured she had her reasons. He assumed it was because she wanted both her mother and father to announce it together.
The father and daughter team make it to the festival early, as there are still vendors setting up their stalls and the lanterns have yet to be lit. People gather and musicians pluck small melodies and tune their instruments, food vendors start up their barbeques and prepare their food, heat wafting off of the grill. The smell of cooking oil, smoke and different foods being cooking fill the air. Herbs from other villages, meats, noodles, rice and other festival dishes are made. People turn up over the next hour. Lanterns are starting to be lit and musicians begin to play joyous music. With the mix of red light above the crowds head and the sparkling stars present a crystal clear night approaching.
Naruto stops at a small Kingyo-Sukui (goldfish-catching) stall and lets Hana down to try it. Naruto pays for 6 scoops, giving three to Hana. Hana places the scoop into the water, waits for a goldfish to hover near and swiftly lifts the scoop, tilting it towards the small bowl.
"Ah!" Exclaims Naruto.
"You got one on your first go…" Naruto points to the small goldfish swimming frantically in the bowl. Hana grins widely. Naruto pouts a little.
"Beginners luck, my foot! I've done this before with mum once!" Hana growls back at Naruto, but withdraw at the painful memory of her mother. Hana missed her. What was worse was not being able to tell Naruto. She thought of the name Sai had called her.
"Hinata!" Hana's head snaps up to look at her Dad. Naruto, smiling and waving to Hinata to come over. Hinata looks startled but approaches the blonde man, a blush showing on her cheeks.
"Y-Yes, Naruto-kun?" Hinata mumbles.
"Look what we caught" Naruto grins as he boasts. Hinata looks down at the small fish.
"Oh, you finally caught one?" She murmurs. Hinata's eyes were not on the fish at all, but the small girl holding the bowl… And the stunned face on the girl. Hana's eyes transfixed on the raven haired woman in front of her.
"Mu-… Me!" Hana stumbled on her words, almost forgetting Naruto's presence. Naruto paid no mind to it. He's as thick-headed as he ever was.
"I-it's mine. I caught the fish… that is…" Hana looked from Naruto to Hinata and blushed, smiling to herself and feeling sick all at the same time. Naruto could see the tiniest of water in the corner of her eyes.
'Huh? Is she…?' Naruto's thoughts were dismissed quickly as his stomach rumbled. Hinata giggled as Naruto blushed and Hana blushed a little angrily at him for being embarrassing.
"P-perhaps… We should g-go get something to eat?" Hinata suggested, with a blush and a few supressed giggles. Naruto nodded, and grinned.
"Ichiraku ramen?" Hana sighed; handing the bowl to the stall owner as he quickly bagged it for her. Hana and Hinata nodded.
"Ok." Hana said and took Naruto's hand. Hana, then feeling brave- also took Hinata's hand in secret as they walked to the famous Ichiraku ramen restaurant.
Of course Naruto head's straight for Ichiraku.
He'd have it no other way...