Hinata ~ A Distant, Fading Dream
~ Prologue ~
All good things come to an end. Hyuga Hinata learned that the hard way twice in her life: when her mother passed away, signalling the end of her happy days at the Hyuga Compound and on the day when Uzumaki Naruto, the love of her life, began a relationship with Haruno Sakura. That was the beginning of the end for her dream.
Uzumaki Naruto was her strength, her motivator and the reason Hinata grew and developed as a person. He harboured a single dream, one that allowed him to overcome any difficulty. 'To be the Hokage, that is my dream!' She had heard these words many times, in every conceivable situation. During Naruto's childhood, those were the words he would shout at anyone who mocked him. When he left to fight Pain and save Konoha, these were the words he said to reassure those few concerned souls that he would return. And when he said them as the villagers hoisted him on their shoulders, celebrating the return of the village hero, there wasn't a single person who doubted him.
But Hyuga Hinata was special. She didn't need to see Naruto save the village a dozen times over to recognize his potential. She knew from the start, from the day they met, that those words were true. Whenever he said that he would become Hokage, she believed in him without reservation. But always from a distance. Never had she said it to his face that she had faith in him, until the invasion of Pain. But even then, her words, pulled straight from her heart, were forgotten in the heat of battle.
The little comfort she could draw from that moment, save for Naruto's safe return afterwards, had been that her apparent death at the hand of Pain had evoked the strongest reaction from Naruto - channelling the infinite rage of the Nine-Tails in anguish. But even that brought her a short lived, false peace of mind; she was aware of how much pain Naruto suffered, directly or otherwise, due to the Nine-Tailed Fox residing within him. He had been tormented as a child because of it, and to this day, the Fox spirit wrought immeasurable damage to his body when it overcame his restraint and took advantage of his anger.
Her words, words she would have never had the courage to say to him at any other time were said thanks to pure desperation. Her Naruto was at Pain's mercy, pinned cruelly to the ground while the man himself revealed his plans for Naruto's burden, at the cost of the blonde ninja's life. His pain was hers, and she knew she had to protect him, as there was no life for her without him in it. The courage to protect her precious person was strong enough to motivate her to speak; it bolstered her courage like no other situation could. But her proclamation of love was forgotten, lost in his mind like a distant, fading dream...
Part One ~ The Beginning of the Dream
Hyuga Hinata stood atop the Godaime Hokage's stone likeness on the Hokage Monument. She didn't come here often, but when she did, it was to admire the beauty of the village at night from above. A pleasant distraction as she thought about various events in her life. Painful events, sad events, and happy ones too, this was the spot where she could sit and think in peace. It was calm and quiet, the sounds of the village did not reach her ears and she was grateful for it.
Right now, Hinata needed some personal time to reflect over the happiest and yet most painful thing in her life: Uzumaki Naruto.
After the Fourth Shinobi World War was won, and the Allied Nations separated amicably, Konoha had to be rebuilt from the ground up. But not before a huge celebration was held for the heroes who fought bravely for the village. Of course, the one who snatched victory from the jaws of defeat was the most praised of all. And that's why Hinata had watched with a grateful smile, from the sidelines, like she always did, as Naruto was presented with the Hokage's Commendation for services rendered to the village, namely the defeat of Sasuke and aiding in the destruction of Konoha's greatest enemy: Uchiha Madara and the Akatsuki.
She was thankful that he had survived; it seemed as though he was finished when Sasuke began to rely on self-damaging kinjutsu. But she had jumped in, like that time with Pain, and helped him to fight back until he ordered her to leave. She could still see his face clearly in his mind as she helped him up.
"Hinata, this is my fight. I know you want to help, but I swore to end this myself." he grinned at her, his defiant, never-give-up smile that she knew so well. "So believe in me, I promise I'll come back alive!"
And Uzumaki Naruto never went back on his word. She'd had no reason to doubt him, instead speaking to him, without a trace of her stutter.
"Good luck Naruto-kun." she smiled at him "I've always believed in you." With that, she leaned forward and gently kissed him on the cheek, before sprinting away from the battlefield, not daring to look back.
Hinata leaned back on her hands, the stone surface of Tsunade's head cool beneath her hands. She gazed up at the night sky, watching as the last of the smoky clouds, once ever present during the war, were blown away by the cool night breeze, leaving the sky fresh and clean, exposing the multitude of stars above.
She touched her lips gently. She could still feel his warm, sweat-coated cheek, could remember the sensation of joy that had filled her heart as she kissed him good luck on that bloody battlefield almost three days ago. That had been the boldest move she could have pulled, given the circumstances. She had wanted to tell him more, how much he meant to her, how she would always believe in him, that she wanted to be by his side and that she loved him and wanted to be with him until the end.
Tears slowly filled her eyes as she was reminded as to why she'd come up here; the reason she had left the merriment of the village celebration to be alone with her thoughts. She found that she couldn't confront the issue just yet; she was still trying to get over the shock. Her heart ached and she cast about, searching her mind for anything to distract her from those painful thoughts. Inevitably, her thoughts fell on Naruto, and she remembered the first time they'd met, when things had been much simpler...
The first encounter was the most memorable. It was then that Hinata was inspired to be better, to try and improve herself, to be like the mysterious blonde boy who had stood up for her when she was being mistreated, despite the odds being stacked against him. As a young girl, Hinata suffered from a severe lack of self-confidence. Her mother had just passed away, and her father was becoming more and more disappointed in her with each passing day, as her gentle nature and lack of self-esteem set her back further and further from becoming the next head of the Hyuga Clan.
The Branch family member who escorted her from place to place was to take her to school on her first day. Understandably, she was very nervous, more so because her own father had told her the day before that she was a good for nothing weakling. The words bit deep, but the fact that her own father had said them to her made it all the worse.
Thus, with a heavy heart, she left the shelter of the Hyuga Compound, heading for the preparatory school that all aspiring ninja had to attend before entering the Academy. That day had been the first of a three year stint at the school, and she would have spent them alone had she not met the brave blonde boy she came to know as Uzumaki Naruto.
The main street through the village was crowded with the usual morning foot traffic, and inevitably it seemed, she was separated from her escort. Hinata stood frozen in fear, forcing other pedestrians to move around her, grumbling in annoyance. She felt smaller and more alone as murmurs and rude comments were directed her way.
Finally, an old man carrying a massive stack of boxes instructed her, not unkindly, to relocate herself, lest she be trampled underfoot. She squeaked with terror and quickly meandered her way through the mass of people to the side of the road, apologizing constantly whenever she stepped too close to another villager.
She found herself in an empty alleyway. The bright sunlight that had lit up every inch of the main street did not penetrate the deep shadows between the two buildings that formed the small alley. Tears began to fill her eyes. Hinata was terrified and lost.
The dark alley was daunting sight, but she knew she couldn't stay there. She closed her eyes and began to sprint blindly, hoping to open her eyes and see sunshine. Instead, she found herself being knocked backwards by a rather solid but squishy... something... That she had run into. There was a surprised yelp, a soft splattering sound and finally, the sound of an indignant growl.
Hinata slowly sat up and opened her eyes, fearing the worst. However, there were no spots of blood on the ground; a scoop of light green ice cream lay splattered on the dirt, it's cone sticking up and at an angle, seemingly pointing towards the three older boys staring right at her, stunned confusion on their faces.
Adding the feeling of embarrassment to the growing list of emotions she was currently experiencing, Hinata quickly stood, regaining her composure to an extent. "I'm sorry," she mumbled, before turning back the way she had come, prepared to run with reckless abandon.
She had taken no more than two steps when a rough hand grabbed her arm and pulled her back, dumping her unceremoniously on the ground once more. "Hey you! Where do you think you're going? You made me drop my ice cream!" the largest of the boys addressed her roughly, placing a hand on her shoulder and shaking her for emphasis.
Hinata's face scrunched up with anxiety. Her first day at school had become a complete nightmare, and she hadn't even seen the inside of her classroom. "I'm sorry, I'm sorry... I..." her apologies slowly petered out as she realized the larger boy was staring into her tear-filled eyes.
"Hey guys! This one here is a Hyuga! She probably thinks she's better than us because she's from one of the 'noble' clans of Konoha." he leaned forward, addressing her directly. "I spent a lot of money on that ice cream cone, and you think you can run away without giving me a proper apology? Boys, let's teach her a lesson. She needs to know that she isn't any more special than anyone else!"
With affirmative grunts, the other two boys flanked Hinata and pinned her tightly between them. Ignoring her half-hearted attempts to escape, they dragged her out of the alley, following their leader to their usual spot.
"P-Please don't do this... I-I'm so s-sorry..." she whispered, crying openly as she was pulled along.
When the two lackeys finally dropped Hinata, she found herself lying face down on soft grass. Her tears had blurred her vision for most of the journey and now she really was completely and utterly lost. As she attempted to sit up, a foot was placed forcefully on the back of her head, pushing her face into the dirt.
"Now you are going to give me a proper apology for making me drop my ice cream. You will address me on your hands and knees and you will refer to me as Taiko-sama."
Hinata sniffled miserably. She was too distraught to think, let alone talk. A hand roughly grabbed the back of her head, pulling on her hair until she looked up into the face of one of Taiko's friends.
"Hey you, you have your orders! Hop to it, and you're punishment won't be too brutal."
He let go suddenly, and Hinata once again found herself lying prone on the cold grass. They had brought her to a shady spot on the edge of the forest where the sun didn't shine. A chilly breeze weaved its way between the tree trunks, causing Hinata to shiver not only with fear.
"I'm waiting," the voice of Taiko sneered. Tears flowed down her cheeks, dripping from her chin as she finally opened her mouth to speak.
"Hey! What the heck are you doing?"
"Huh? Who are you?" Hinata glanced up slowly, spotting the new arrival immediately. A small, blonde haired child around her age stood a few metres away, watching the boys torment Hinata.
One of Taiko's lackeys suddenly recognized him. "Hey, he's that good-for-nothing that everyone hates for causing trouble!"
"Ah, that kid," said Taiko, as he began to laugh, mocking the young boy.
"I'm not 'that kid'! I am Uzumaki Naruto, the future Hokage!" he glared at them, hands balled into fists by his sides. "Don't you forget it!"
"Hokage?" the three boys said simultaneously. They stared at Naruto for a few moments, before bursting out into laughter.
"What an idiot!"
"As if some stupid brat like you could become the Hokage!" As Hinata watched him, his eyes cast in shadow by his long spiky hair, he she remembered seeing the boy somewhere else. She had once seen the boy, yelling at the citizens of Konoha that he was going to be Hokage, before running away from the latest scene of trouble he'd caused. Judging eyes, snide whispers and disapproving comments had followed him as he ran towards the Hokage Monument.
Taiko stepped closer to Naruto. "There's no way an idiot like you could become one!" he said as he punched Naruto in the jaw, smirking as his friends' laugher increased. He hit Naruto again, knocking the disorientated boy off his feet. Hinata watched in horror as the boy who had come to rescue landed painfully on his back.
'Why? Why is he...?'
Slowly Naruto picked himself off the ground, unsteadily making his way back onto his feet. He wiped a trickle of blood from the corner of his mouth with the back of his hand and grinned.
Taiko scowled. "You wanna fight brat?"
Naruto brought his hands up in the ram seal. "Alright, but don't go crying to your mother afterwards!" he said, a confident smile on his face. Hinata could only watch as he closed his eyes in concentration, wondering quietly who that brave young boy really was.
The taller lackey took a half step back. "H-Hey, that seal is..."
"Bunshin no Jutsu!" with a loud bang and a large puff of smoke, a clone appeared. A rather sickly looking clone that slowly slumped to the ground, before vanishing in a puff of smoke.
The boys' terrified looks turned to smirks and sniggers, until they burst out laughing.
"That's pathetic! Are you even trying? I-" Taiko was cut off as Naruto tackled him to the ground. The other two boys' laughter ceased abruptly as their leader was pushed into the dirt.
"You let your guard down! You think you can get away with beating up little girls?" yelled Naruto, raising his fist. "You'll see, I'll definitely become Hokage! And I'll then I'll show people like you!" he emphasized the ending of his statement with a punch, soon followed by another, and another.
Hinata, now forgotten by the side of the clearing, could only watch as Taiko's friends pulled Naruto off their leader and tossed him against a tree, beating him mercilessly. She turned her eyes away, distraught.
"Hinata-sama!" her escort was running towards her, his Byakugan active. The three boys looked when they heard him shout and their faces blanched with fear.
"Yabe!" they yelped as they left Naruto and scampered away.
"Hinata-sama, are you alright?" he asked before spotting the bloodied and bruised Naruto lying at the foot of a tree. "This kid, he's..."
Grabbing Hinata's hand, he began to lead her away. "W-Wait, he helped me!" she said, looking back at the unconscious blonde.
"Do not concern yourself with him!" her escort said sharply. "Let's go."
"B-But..." she briefly reached out to Naruto, as if to take him with her before she was pulled away, leaving her saviour alone in the forest.
Hinata did not see her rescuer after that day, and she wondered where he had gone and if he was alright. But a week passed, and there had been no sign of him at school. She knew he should be there, judging from his (admittedly poor) Bunshin no Jutsu and his aspiration to become Hokage, she knew he would be a ninja. There were other things she wondered about, like how he knew an Academy level technique at their age, but she had no time to ponder such curiosities, especially since he wasn't around to answer her questions.
But she still thought about him from time to time, the boy with the fierce blue eyes and fiery determination who had come to her rescue.
The second week of school began, and Hinata quickly and quietly moved to her seat near the window. She had been glad that their sensei had given her a spot near the back of the class. The minute she'd walked into the room on her first day, the other kids were pointing and whispering to each other.
"Hey, is that a Hyuga?"
"Yeah, just look at her eyes!"
"So she's related to that Neji kid right? Do you think she's got a personality like him?"
"Probably. People from the 'noble' families are jerks; they think they're so much better than everyone else."
Feeling a large sense of discomfort at being the centre of attention, she clutched her hands tightly to her chest, trying to make herself as small as possible as she made her way to her lonely seat in the back.
Hinata felt terrible, and the fact that students every now and then would turn around and openly stare at her made her all the more upset. On the verge of crying, she jumped when their sensei barged through the door, dragging a small kid in behind him by the arm.
Hinata's pale lavender eyes widened. It was him. The boy from before. The one known as...
"...Uzumaki Naruto. I hope you'll all be good friends with him and make him feel welcome." the teacher sounded somewhat bored as he finished the introduction. He bent down to glare at the young boy, who was pouting indignantly. "Your seat is up there, next to Hyuga Hinata."
Giving him a none too gentle shove, he directed Naruto to the aforementioned seat and began his lesson. Shoving his hands in his pockets and grumbling under his breath, Naruto made his way to the back row, plopping down on the seat like he really couldn't care less.
Hinata was nervous. Did he remember her? How was she supposed to react to his presence? Would he be upset or annoyed that he had taken a severe beating for her and she'd left him without a word of thanks? She found herself slowly pressing her body against the window, trying to inch away from the boy, trying to create some space between them. He was probably furious, and had skipped a week of school as a result. She jumped when his head hit the table, face down.
As she continued to watch him, his head turned gradually, until his face was pointing in her direction. His startling blue eyes locked with her pale lavender ones and she found herself entranced and unable to look away. He frowned at her for a moment, and Hinata blushed under his intense gaze. Below them, the lesson was underway, but Hinata could barely hear her sensei's words. Her heart was pounding; her ears were filled with the sound of her heartbeats as those piercing blue eyes seemed to stare right through her.
The frown, if she had paused to examine it more closely, was not one of anger but of curiosity. As the blood rushed into her face, making it redder and redder with each passing moment, his puzzled expression suddenly cleared up, and a wide grin unfurled across his face. It was a dramatic change, and Hinata watched bemused as he sat up and leaned towards her.
"Hey, I remember you!" he whispered. "You're the girl from the forest right? Do you remember me?"
Hinata was still somewhat dazzled and unable to speak; instead she forced herself to nod in response. His grin, if possible, became even wider, revealing his pearly whites. It was a breath taking smile, one that was innocent and childlike and radiated with honesty and pure joy. Hinata was enraptured. Since her mother passed away, there was no one who spared Hinata a kindly smile at her home. All she knew were the disapproving looks of her father, the contemptuous glares of her cousin Neji and her little sister Hanabi and the forced smiles of the Branch members.
Yet here was a boy who didn't even know her, and had even been beaten senseless on her account, smiling at her like she was his best friend. "That's good. I'm glad that you're alright. Those guys haven't been giving you any more trouble have they?"
She wordlessly shook her head, wishing that she could say something, anything. At the very least, she had to thank him for saving her. He continued on speaking, oblivious to her internal struggles. "That's a relief. Hey, you don't talk much do you?"
Her eyes widened and she shook her head, opening and closing her mouth several times, trying to force out a word, any word. "H-Hinata." she spluttered.
"M-My name is H-Hinata." her stutter was back in full force, making her small sentence nearly unintelligible.
"Oh, so you can speak!" he grinned as she blushed harder. "Ha-ha, I'm only teasing. I suppose I should introduce myself too." he straightened up in his seat, his expression one of determination. An alluring gleam in his bright blue eyes ensured her full attention was on him.
"My name is Uzumaki Naruto! And someday, I'm gonna be Hokage!"
Hinata stared at him wide-eyed. Such determination, such confidence... It was like he didn't have any self-doubt, like he knew that he was definitely going to become Hokage. Her feeling of awe turned to one of embarrassment as she realized the classroom was completely silent. Naruto seemed not to have noticed, instead continuing to grin his foxy grin at her.
A single snort of laughter broke the silence, and soon, the whole class, including the teacher were laughing and pointing, mocking poor Naruto. Various comments about how a squirt like him could never become Hokage were thrown his way, which only seemed to bolster Naruto's resolve.
"I will be Hokage! Then you'll see! I'm gonna be better than any Hokage before me, believe it!"
Hinata simply watched him as he made those bold statements. But somehow, somewhere deep inside herself, she knew they were true.
As the bell signalling the beginning of lunch rang loudly throughout the school building, Naruto was roused from his slumber. He lifted his head off the desk and stretched, yawning loudly. Hinata winced as the bones in his shoulders cracked and popped audibly. She jumped when he began to speak out loud, seemingly at no one.
"Hmm, I can't believe they broke into my home and dragged me to school by force! I didn't even have time to grab a cup of instant ramen. What am I going to do for lunch? Maybe I could sneak back home and..." he continued to muse out loud, his arms crossed over his chest while nodding to himself.
"Ano, I-If you'd like, you c-could have lunch with m-me," stammered Hinata, surprising both Naruto and herself. Before she could consider how boldly she was acting, she hastily continued. "I-I have a bento, and I'm always given m-more food than I can eat by myself. S-So if you'd like... I-I mean, you don't have to, of c-course, I..." her sentence slowly stuttered to a halt as a blush began to creep across her cheeks. Naruto had looked her way with a puzzled expression, head tilted at an angle as he considered her words.
He squinted at her, suspicion written all over his face. Hinata could feel her blush deepening but could not look away. 'Oh, I shouldn't have said anything, now it's awkward between us and I have no idea what to say and...'
"Are you serious?"
"Ano..." his expression had changed again, to one of astonishment. "Y-Yes, It w-would be my p-pleasure to share my b-bento with you."
He still seemed rather shocked by the offer. For the first time, she noticed that he too seemed to have been rendered speechless.
"Wow," he muttered, before giving her a wide grin. "Thanks Hinata! Shall we go outside then?"
Stunned that he had actually accepted her offer, she nodded wordlessly. A few moments passed with neither of the two moving a muscle. A sweat-drop rolled down Naruto's cheek. "Lead the way?" he gestured towards the door.
Hinata stood up rapidly from her seat, feeling as if all the blood in her body was in her face. "Ano, I'm s-sorry Uzumaki-san."
The blonde boy smiled, and to Hinata, it felt as if the room lit up with that simple expression. "Just Naruto is fine."
For the first time since she had attended the school, Hinata scooped up her bento and left the classroom for lunch with a shy smile of her own on her lips.
"Thank you, Naruto-kun." she whispered.
The present day Hinata who was seated atop the stone head of the fifth Hokage was jerked roughly out of her pleasant memories by the sound of fireworks. Bright bursts of colour illuminated the sky for a few brief seconds before fizzling away into nothingness.
'Much like our friendship,' thought Hinata, the smile that had been on her lips as a result of her reminiscing fading away with the memory of Naruto sharing a bento with her many years ago.
She shivered as the cold night wind blew past, tugging her jacket around her tightly to ward off the chill. Their friendship had started that day, and was one of the few highlights in the young heiresses' life. Back then, life had been almost like a dream. She had finally found a friend, and Naruto seemed less lonely, not spending nearly as much time as he would have on that wooden Ninja Academy swing.
The pair had been close, but after an incident one night during their final year, Naruto began to grow distant from her. He was still as cheerful and kind to her as he had always been, but somewhere along the line, he began to drift away from her. He spent less and less time with her during school hours, and always had an excuse not to see her at any other time. It was that one night that sparked the beginning of the end though, and to think the days preceding it had been almost perfect too...