An/ Okay, well this is my first Naruto Fanfiction :) I very recently read the manga and started watching the anime and well just fell in love with it and I've had this idea now for a few days and decided to get it down. Seeing as this is my first Naruto outing I'd really appreciate any feedback on how I've done, character wise and in general, I'd appreciate any comments in this regard as I'd like to know what I'm doing right/wrong for future fictions :)

Well I'll let you get on.

Naruto of course belongs to his respective owner :)

Grazed knees and lifelong dreams

A young Uzumaki Naruto yawned and stretched laboriously, much like that of a cat, his limbs in front of him as he groaned satisfied at the release of tension. Squinting and scratching the back of his head absently, Naruto turned briefly to peer out of the grubby window and upon doing so he discovered that it was about noon time and the weather was looking good. Grinning broadly to himself and emitting a mischievous chuckle, Naruto proceeded to haphazardly clamber out of his ruffled bed leaving his sleeping cap in his wake as he grabbed his favourite pair of orange shorts and a white t-shirt. While he changed he continued to smile, his optimism for the day fed by the good weather and the thoughts that maybe today would be a good day. Slipping his t-shirt over his blonde head and pulling it down so that the black swirl, somewhat reminiscent of the Hidden Leaf village symbol, was pressed smoothly over his chest, Naruto finally grabbed his trusty goggles, slinging them around his neck to finish. Still grinning broadly he rushed to the staircase and hurtled down at a practiced two at a time until he charged around the corner and entered the kitchen like a small orange and white hurricane.

The place that Naruto called his home wasn't particularly impressive, it was untidy and worn around the edges, in some places the paint was peeling and in other places the floor was uneven but it was all he had ever known. On occasions when he wandered alone throughout the streets of the village he often gawked at the other houses and apartments, he marvelled at how different they were to his own home and tried to imagine what they might look like inside. When Naruto entered his kitchen, fully prepared to snatch some unfinished Ramen out of the fridge for his breakfast and a gulp of milk from a carton, he noticed a large box on the table. Immediately the plastered grin on his face faded, he knew exactly what it was. Without even taking a closer look, Naruto knew that the box held a selection of food and general supplies and he considered it almost painfully as he reached into the fridge to withdraw the promised carton of milk.

When he was much younger someone used to visit where he lived and bring him food, clothes and general supplies, they would always stay long enough to prepare him a hot meal and then leave. They would never speak with him and avoided looking at him if they could help it, but to Naruto, that simple daily routine was normal, he thought that it was normal because he hadn't known anything better, he didn't remember when he was a baby and so didn't know whether or not someone had ever lived with him or had taken permanent care of him. Later once he started at the academy he discovered that his apparently normal lifestyle wasn't what he thought it was. He used to watch the other children at the end of the day when their parents came to take them home, he watched as they received hugs and words of praise and encouragement. It had stirred a pang of loneliness in his chest but he rushed home regardless, thoughts of the other parents on his mind as he charged through his door, a decision made. That evening when the carer came he tried to talk with them, he tried to tell them about the academy and his day but they simply ignored him, he even asked them to stay once they set his meal on the table but his words fell on deaf ears and like they did every evening before...they left him on his own.

Gulping a mouthful of milk Naruto wiped at his mouth with the back of his hand, his bright blue eyes still trained on the large box, although they didn't hold the same excitement that they had a moment ago when he had been racing down the stairs. His memory continued to work, he wasn't old and didn't have many memories but the ones he did have were...he couldn't explain, but it hurt somewhere in his chest when he thought of them. Even now as he reached back into the fridge for the rest of the Ramen, he remembered that after that evening no one ever came to his house anymore, at least not when he was there. Instead a box would be left once a week along with a small amount of money for him to buy what he needed and from that day on Naruto Uzumaki learned despite his young age how to take care of himself. It had been a rough learning curve to begin with, he was only young after all and his home wasn't neat and tidy and his bed wasn't made, his clothes weren't always clean and his food wasn't always hot but he was doing okay for himself.

Finishing up his Ramen breakfast with a slurp, Naruto quickly stowed some of the items from the box into the fridge knowing that if he didn't they would go bad. The money on the side was likewise stowed away safely along with the rest of the money he still had left over; he didn't buy much unless he really needed to having learned quickly the value of money. With the box empty, it was picked up and deposited outside just by the door, Naruto knowing from experience that someone would collect it while he was gone and that he would once again see it the same time next week. It wasn't the first time that he wished that he had someone to look after him, or at least someone to visit to make sure he was okay or just to talk to him. It wasn't the first time he wondered why he didn't have parents like the other kids.

The moment of sadness in the eyes of the young boy dissipated as he skilfully masked the anguish with another bright grin, his steps out into the warm afternoon sun enough to turn the happy facade into an honest smile. Deeply he breathed soaking up as much as he could and converting it into a bubbling enthusiasm as he broke into a run, feet pounding the floor in rhythm as a shriek of excitement exploded from his mouth. His run soon escalated into a high tailing sprint as he tore his way through the village streets towards the park where all the other kids were sure to be, he knew that they would be playing games and maybe today, on a day like this, they might just let him join in. As he ran he didn't notice the scornful looks from the adults or the way that they muttered as he streaked past them in a noisy blur as he continued to shout and cheer. Despite all of his racket however, a woman turning the corner of the street with an armful of groceries didn't notice him and he likewise in his haste didn't see her either...it was only a matter of seconds before he collided into her.

Crashing into her legs the young Uzumaki was dazed and slightly disorientated but as soon as he regained his senses he immediately flinched as the woman who he had unfortunately crashed into began to scold him harshly. Naruto decided that even though she was yelling at him and was bright red in the face from her rage along with the bulging vein in her temple, he decided that she was quite pretty. As he picked out the usual statements from her, of his irresponsibility, of him being a danger and a no good delinquent, Naruto bent down and picked up one of the red apples that she had lost from her groceries. With a toothy smile Naruto thrust his arm forward, apple in palm and held it out to her.

"I'm sorry, lady." He said sincerely, they taught them manners at the academy and he had been scolded for his lack of them, so he made an effort to be polite hoping that it might make her less angry with him, that she might thank him and take notice of him. Instead though she did as everyone else did and ignored him, snatching the remainder of her groceries and leaving him where he stood, the gleaming apple now down by his side as he hopelessly dropped his arm. Disappointed that he had managed to once again do something wrong, Naruto set the apple on the floor and took off, he wasn't going to keep something that wasn't his and since the lady didn't want it there was no point trying to get it to her so he pushed it out of his mind and carried on running. While he ran he likewise swallowed the burning sensation in his throat, it was a good day still...it wasn't ruined yet.

Shortly after the incident with the lady in the village, Naruto arrived at the wide open park, the grass was quite long and swayed in the almost non-existent wind while the sounds of care-free children could be heard playing a short distance away. Eagerly he made his way in the direction of the voices, his heart beating rapidly in his chest as his nerves and excitement grew.

'Maybe today they'll let me play a game with them.'

When he reached the top of a nearby hill he could see all the children from the academy, some of them were playing with a ball, most of the girls sat around picking flowers and for a couple of moments Naruto's vision zoned in on a young girl there. Her head was bowed with pink hair covering her face and eyes, but he was certain as she picked flowers with a blonde haired girl that she was the prettiest girl he had ever seen. Wasting no more time gawking he charged down the hill, yelling happily and ensuring that he snagged their attention even if it was just for a short while.

"Hey!" He called as he drew to a stop by the boys playing with the ball, his arms behind his head and his elbows pointing skyward "What are you playing?"

He waited, his eyes squinted shut from his broadest grin, but there was no immediate answer except the silence that had befallen over the girls as they watched.

Slowly his smile started to fade but he held the remains of it, his toothy grin falling to a loose smile "Can I join?" He asked, bringing his arms down by his sides and stuffing his hands into his pockets.

One of the boys stopped after catching the ball, he didn't even turn to look at Naruto whose throat began to burn again, the familiar need to cry itching at the back, but he was determined not to cry even if he didn't understand.

"Why don't you just get lost?" The boy threw over his shoulder, voice laced with contempt "No one wants you around."

Naruto's world began to shrink in on itself as the loneliness he often felt crashed against him like huge waves, the pain was there too as their eyes bored into him, even the boy watching the clouds turned his head to watch the events below.

"I...just wanted to play a game with you." Naruto croaked, he had tried to keep his voice loud and steady but it really felt as though something was crushing his voice box. When he eventually looked up the boys had gone back to their game, the cloud watcher back to the blue canvas above, the girls back to flower picking, and in that same instant Naruto tore away from them, hurtling back in the direction of the village.

He ran as fast as his legs were willing to carry him, even as hot tears streaked his cheeks and splattered onto his goggles and shirt, even as his vision became almost too blurry to allow him to see where he was going. Like they did to him, Uzumaki Naruto ignored the people around him, he ignored the adults who looked at him with cold eyes and those that shouted in annoyance from his rush and soon enough he couldn't see past his watery and fuzzy vision. Naruto barely registered when his foot sank lower than usual, didn't really notice when his toes caught and he was pulled down having lost his footing in a hole along the path, a stone missing or something similar...he didn't know...he didn't care. Lurching forward he soon ended up splayed on the ground, his knees landing hard and scraping along the rough path while his palms hastily and by natural extinct grabbed at the ground to break his unexpected fall.

Tears still streaming now with physical pain added to that of his heart, Naruto tried to clamber up from the ground and continue running but the pain in his skinned knees stung and his eyes were still completely opaque with water as they started yet another assault. What was wrong with him? Why didn't anyone like him? Even when he tried so hard, even when he gave it everything he had with his biggest grin, no one was interested, no one gave him so much as a sideways glance. They just ignored him or scorned him, or fixed him with those eyes, those cold eyes.

Whimpering with pain Naruto clumsily turned onto his bottom and bent his knees up to his chest so that he could see what was causing so much pain. Both of his knees were skinned raw and were bleeding but he didn't really know what to do about them, he had hurt himself plenty of times and even if he was never injured for very long he still didn't know what to do. The blood was now beginning to dribble slowly down his shins and he timidly made to touch the wounds.

"Ouch, ouch." He gingerly poked the torn flesh with his finger, wiping his eyes with his other hand at the same time.

"That was a nasty fall you took young man."

Naruto jumped at the sudden voice, but he ignored it not really thinking that it was aimed at him, no one ever really spoke to him unless to yell at him.

"Here let me help."

An elder man knelt down slowly in front of Naruto's bleeding knees and the young boy rubbed his eyes with his fist, half way to rub the tears away but also in disbelief that someone had taken the time to help him...that they wanted to help him.

"What do you want mister?" Naruto snapped harshly "I don't need your help." He insisted as he shoved the older man's hands away.

The man simply smiled kindly as he reached out regardless and touched the grazed knees of the young boy "That looks quite painful." He observed apparently unaware of Naruto's earlier insistence that he required no help.

Naruto sniffed in confirmation and let a hiss out between his teeth as the old man pressed his fingers to one of his raw knees and almost instinctually Naruto pushed him away again and tried to shuffle away.

"That hurts!"

"I know...but I can stop it from hurting...just sit still."

Before Naruto could protest further glowing chakra energy emerged from the man's hands and surprisingly to an apprehensive Naruto, soothed the pain. In a few moments the skin was as good as new despite the blood that suggested to the contrary.

"There, now on to the other one seeing as how you've hurt that one too." The old man said with a small smile "Next time try not to break your fall with your knees."

Naruto sniffed again, his eyebrows pulling down into a frown "Why are you helping me?"

The old man looked up into watery blue eyes that were painstakingly familiar to him, reminding him of someone he had known some time ago "I'm the Hokage." He said almost sounding reassuring "It's my job to look after everyone."

"Even...even me?" Naruto asked sceptically.

The Hokage simply smiled, hiding his sorrow upon hearing that the young boy didn't really understand what help was, that he had never really received it. There were many things the Hokage knew the boy hadn't received in his life.

"Of course." The other knee was by now healed and like the knee that came before was once again as good as new, even if the Hokage's medical jutsu wasn't anywhere near as sophisticated as the likes of Tsunade, one of the legendary three Sannin. It was however plenty for this situation, particularly as the boy's healing seemed rather fast on its own. When he stood now that his work was done, the Hokage peered around about them. "Do you know where you are young man?"

Naruto shook his head "I don't care." He folded his arms and glared at the ground, cheeks still stained from his earlier tears.

The Hokage ignored the young boy's outburst "This is the Hokage monument." He said proudly and gestured to the huge facial carvings that made up the side of the mountain, his own face residing there and revealing him to be the third Hokage of Konoa.

Regardless of the Hokage's attempt to bring the young man into a conversation, Naruto stood gingerly from the ground keeping his eyes downcast as he spoke "Thanks for helping me..." And he turned on the spot ready to leave, his original enthusiasm for the day long since forgotten thanks to the events that had occurred, the same ones that seemed to happen every single day of his life.

"Hey, not so fast," The Hokage called smiling again "How about I tell you about the Hokages?"

Naruto blinked unsure how to respond to the man's question and even more unsure as to how to talk to him, he didn't really have a lot of experience in talking to people.

"What about them?" Naruto asked at last his face now angled so that he could see the old man more clearly but he dared not look into his eyes for fear of seeing the familiar coldness there.

The Hokage nodded and beckoned Naruto over to the railings where he had already taken a place to view the monument and as Naruto slowly approached, the Hokage put a hand on the young boy's shoulder. Naruto looked up out of surprise and saw that the Hokage's eyes weren't full of coldness; instead they were friendly and reassuring. Naruto began to wonder who this man really was; he was so different to everyone else.

"Those there are the Hokages." The old man explained, his finger pointing to the huge stone faces that overlooked the entire village.

Looking at them more closely Naruto pointed at the face furthest to the right "Is that one you?"

The Hokage laughed and shook his head, "No, that one there is me...I'm the Third." He pointed to the same face that Naruto had "That one is the Fourth."

"Then...where's the Fourth?" Naruto questioned, not really understanding what the Hokage was or why there was one apparently missing.

"The Fourth died some years ago," The Third explained softly "He died protecting the village from a terrible demon." He paused sadly as he looked at the boy with an expression of sorrow, it was unforgivable how the young Uzumaki was treated but there seemed little that could be done to change people's minds of him...he would have to do that himself. "You see..." The Third continued "It's the Hokage's job to look after everyone in the village no matter what."

Naruto nodded his head in thought as he stared up at the forth stony face; he liked the look of it for some reason. "So...he died saving everyone?"

The old man nodded his head in agreement "He was a hero and this village meant a great deal to him."

"He was a hero?"

The Hokage nodded "That he was, even now he is remembered and missed greatly."

"C- can anyone become Hokage?" Naruto asked his face now turned to the Third who was still stood beside him.

The third turned to the young boy surprise evident in his expression "With work I suspect anyone can become strong enough to be the Hokage...but it's a very important job being the leader of the village."

Naruto's face brightened "But the village would recognise them?"

"Yes." The Hokage confirmed having a small inkling as to where this was leading, Naruto's desire to be acknowledged by those around him was growing as he got older, and soon the villagers wouldn't be able to ignore him. The Hokage suspected that in time he may well become quite a handful.

"I want to become Hokage!" Naruto shouted suddenly "If I can be Hokage...everyone would have to see me!"

The Third chuckled slightly but noticed something in the boy's eyes that he was certain hadn't been there before, but he couldn't quite put his finger on it just yet.

"Everyone would acknowledge me wouldn't they?"

The Hokage smiled "Yes they would." He knew what it was now, what it was that had suddenly lit up in the boy's eyes.

Purpose.

Without warning Naruto whooped and punched the air "I'm going to be Hokage!" He declared again, voice triumphant and all of his prior tears forgotten. "I'm going to be Hokage!" He repeated before running off "Thanks geezer!"

Sarutobi smiled warmly as he watched the young Uzumaki Naruto charge down the path back towards the village; even now he could still hear his shouts of becoming Hokage.

"I wonder how he will grow." The Third said, his question aimed at the fourth face carved into the mountain side "I'm sure it will be very eventful, but I promise I will keep my eye on him Minato..."

As Naruto once again ran through the village, informing everyone loudly that he would be Hokage...he realised that this was the best day of his life so far.