Uzumaki Ayame walked quietly into the Hokage's office.

She felt dread like a cold lump of lead settle into her stomach at the stern countenance that waited for her; It wasn't often that her great grandmother mixed clan business with her official duties to the village.
Considering the fact that between the current Hokage and her husband they had ruled the village for nearly eighty years she didn't often need to.
Uzumaki Hinata was a living legend and she had a long and successful history of getting what she wanted.

"You wanted to see me, Ma'am."

"Sit." The old woman replied icily. Ayame complied quickly.

The Hokage removed a cloth that had been covering what appeared to be a bowl of
rice porridge next to a pair of toothpicks.

"Eat." She ordered simply.

"Ma'am?" Ayame asked in confusion.

The Hokage raised an eyebrow.

After a moment Ayame nervously grabbed the pair of toothpics and started trying
to eat the porridge.

"Have you ever considered what life would be like as a giant?" The Hokage asked

"Sometimes." Ayame quietly admitted.

"You probably thought about how fun it would be to tower over everyone, to be
stronger, faster and more powerful than anyone around you." The Hokage stated

Ayame nodded.

"There would be a great many other changes to your life if you were a giant."
The Hokage continued. "Many things that you currently take for granted would be
very difficult."

"Things like eating a bowl of rice?" Ayame guessed wryly.

"Indeed." Butter wouldn't melt in the Hokage's mouth. "How did you guess?"

Ayame scowled. "Why are you telling me this, Ma'am?" She asked.

"Because giants are real." The Hokage said simply. "You know one."

"Really? Who?" Ayame asked in surprise.

"Your cousin." The Hokage replied crisply.

"That bufoon? He's just an academy student who can't even do the Bunshin." Ayame
disagreed with disdain.

"And yet He is a giant nonetheless." The Hokage returned firmly. "And he's not
the first one that I've met. Perhaps if I tell you about the last one you'll


Hinata sat quietly on a bench watching her secret inspiration sit dejectedly on the swing set outside the academy.

They had both just failed their second runoff graduation test out of a maximum of four.

They only got two more chances and then they would both be kicked out of the academy.

Hinata shook her head and sighed.

"The elders have organized a clan tournament next week." Hinata thought to herself. "They want to start trying to see if I will be heir or Hanabi will."

She looked at her hands and blinked back tears. "If I prove to them that I'm worthy then my sister will be enslaved with the caged bird seal, but if I spare her that fate it will be inflicted on me instead." She continued her internal monologue. "I wish I knew what to do. I wish I could be brave like Naruto." Hinata heard the faint rustle of fabric and footsteps, she glanced up and found herself meeting Naruto's eye as he walked by.

He paused. "Hey." Naruto said in a subdued tone.
"H-Hi" Hinata stuttered shyly in response.
"You're Hinata, right?" She nodded.
"Rough day, huh?" Naruto said glumly.

"Y-yeah." Hinata said a little more firmly.

"I was doin' fine 'til they tol' me to do tha bunshin again, can't seem to get it right." Naruto said as he rubbed the back of his head. "How 'bout you?" He asked idly.

Hinata blushed with embarrassment and pressed the tips of her fingers together. "I failed Taijutsu." She said shyly.

"I did good with that." Naruto said with a grin.

Hinata nodded. "I saw, you almost beat Sasuke." She said, not noticing that her stutter had faded.

Naruto frowned and thought for a moment. "Hey, I betchya we could help each other out!" He exclaimed.

"Oh, How so?" Hinata asked nervously.

"Betchya if we train together I can help ya get better at yer taijutsu and then how about you show me how to do the bunshin!" He said excitedly. "We got a few weeks off school now."

Hinata clasped her hands in her lap and looked at them for a moment. "I think that might work." she said after thinking it over.

"'Course it will!" Naruto exclaimed with a grin. "We're gonna be the best ninja ever!"

Hinata nodded and smiled softly. "Let's meet here tomorrow after lunch." She said as she got up to head home. For the first time in a long time she felt like everything would be alright.

The next afternoon Hinata met Naruto outside the academy. "Hey, Hinata!" He greeted loudly with an enthusiastic wave.

"H-Hi, Naruto." Hinata stuttered back with a shy wave of her own.

"Academy's closed, but I got a spot we can train at. Come on" Naruto said with a grin as he took Hinata's hand and quickly led her away.

Soon enough Naruto led Hinata to a clearing in the woods next to a waterfall where a stream came down the mountain.

"Here we go!" Naruto said with an excited grin. "We got our own personal training ground."

Hinata looked around in surprise, expecting someone else to have claimed such a beautiful area. "It's very nice." She said softly.

"It's cool." Naruto said as he rubbed the back of his head. "But we ain't here ta talk. I gotta train 'cause I'm gonna Hokage!"

Hinata smiled. "Alright, Naruto." She said softly. "At the academy they always said it was important to warm up, so I think we should run some laps around the clearing before we do anything else."

"Let's go!" Naruto responded with a grin and set off in a brisk jog.

Hinata giggled softly and ran to catch up.

After a few laps they performed some stretches, and then ran through their katas together.

"Hey, Hinata." Naruto said with a frown. "Your forms are weird."

"These are taught by my clan Naruto." Hinata replied. "It's our special style."

"Oh." Naruto said thoughtfully. "Well maybe you should do the academy stuff too." He said after a moment.

"W-why?" Hinata asked self consciously. "Was I making mistakes with the clan style?"

Naruto shrugged. "Well I dunno." He said with a grin. "I dunno your clan style, but wouldn't it be super to know two styles? That way if one didn't work on an enemy you could use the other and kick his ass!"

Hinata bit her lip for a moment and thought about it, then nodded. "Alright Naruto, I asked you to help me train so I'll do what you ask."

After that they spent about an hour going through the academy forms and occasionally correcting each other's stances and motions, Then when Hinata was getting tired she had Naruto try making a bunshin.

It came out discolored and looking ill.

Hinata frowned, Naruto had used the correct hand signs. She activated her Byakugan. "Please try again Naruto." She said in the firmest tone he had ever heard her use.

Naruto shrugged and went through the hand signs again. "Bunshin." Again the clone came out looking sick and malformed.

Hinata touched the ends of her fingers together and bit her lip as she thought for a moment.

"N-naruto." She said softly. "I think you're putting too much energy into the bunshin."

"Too Much?" Naruto said with a confused frown.

Hinata nodded. "The bunshin is an illusion, sort of a shell of chakra and light. If you put too much chakra into it I think it will pop sort of like a soap bubble with too much air inside of it."

Naruto frowned again and then nodded. "Ok." He ran through the handsigns. "Bunshin." This time the clone still looked sick and discolored but it was able to stand for a moment before it fell over.

Hinata frowned along with Naruto this time. "Naruto." She said after a moment. "Try making more than one."

"How many ya want?" Naruto wondered aloud as he scratched the back of his head.

Hinata shrugged. "Perhaps.." She paused nervously for a moment. "Perhaps as many as you can?" She asked timidly.

Naruto grinned and nodded. A few moments later there was a virtual tide of orange jumpsuits.
The clones still didn't look quite right, and only lasted a few seconds, but they had been real, successful bunshin.

Hinata smiled. "You did it!" She exclaimed happily as she patted Naruto on the shoulder.

Naruto grinned. "Hell yeah!" He said before he got dizzy and found himself sitting on the ground.

"Naruto! are you alright?" Hinata asked.

Naruto nodded. "Just dizzy."

Hinata suddenly realized that since Naruto could summon Bunshin now he no longer needed her help.

"Oh, well congratulations Naruto." She said dejectedly as she turned to leave.

Somehow life felt just a little harder to bear knowing that she wouldn't be training with Naruto again tomorrow.

"Hey Hinata." she heard a voice call after her. She turned to see Naruto picking himself up off of the ground. "See ya here tomorrow, 'aight?" He asked simply.

Hinata smiled softly and nodded before continuing home.
Somehow life felt just a little bit better knowing that she would be training with Naruto again tomorrow.

The next day Hinata met Naruto as agreed.
"Hey Hinata!" Naruto greeted her with a grin. "Let's warm up and spar."

"Why should we do that, Naruto?" Hinata asked. "I don't want to fight you."

Naruto shrugged. "It'll toughen us up."

Hinata pursed her lips but nodded reluctantly.

After a few laps around the clearing and some stretches Hinata and Naruto bowed to each other and began to spar.

After a few jabs back and forth Naruto caught Hinata with a roundhouse kick.
Hinata blocked but she didn't quite do it in time so Naruto's kick had enough power to go through her block and knock her down.

Naruto frowned and walked over. "Hey, you ok?" He asked.

"Y-yes, I'm alright." Hinata said shakily as she sat up.

Naruto kept frowning for a moment. "Hey, ain't all yer moves so far from the academy?" He asked slowly.

Hinata went very still, and then nodded.

"Thought ya said yesterday yer clan had a style." He mused aloud.

Hinata nodded again nervously.

"Why ain't ya usin' it?" Naruto asked.

"I don't want to h-hurt you." Hinata said with a hitch in her voice.

Naruto scowled. "So you think I'm too much of a wuss to stand up to some fancy clan shit? Bring it!" He said loudly.

Hinata opened her mouth to reply, but then seemed to decide differently.
She closed her mouth, set her jaw and nodded firmly.

The next sparring match went very differently.

Hinata started by activating her Byakugan and when Naruto tried to jab at her she simply performed a juuken strike and closed a tenketsu in his arm.

This process was quickly followed by disabling his other arm as well as knocking Naruto back a few feet.

Naruto refused to give up though and jumped at Hinata, aiming a kick at her stomach.

Hinata countered by performing a Juuken strike to his chest.

Both attacks hit and both children were knocked back and fell to the ground.

After a few moments Hinata was able to sit up, and she noticed that Naruto was still laying on the ground.

She pulled her knees up to her chest and hugged them.

"I've done it." She thought to herself sadly. "I hurt Naruto and now he won't want to train with me."

Hinata was shaken from her musings by Naruto sitting up with a groan, and rubbed the back of his head where it had hit the ground.

Hinata's eyes went as wide as saucers when she realized that Naruto had unblocked his own tenketsu in only a few minutes.

"So that's your clan style, huh?" Naruto said wryly.

Hinata nodded shyly. She was still somewhat nervous that Naruto would be angry.

"Fuckin' A that's... Awesome!" Naruto said with a sudden grin.

"R-really?" Hinata asked in shock.

Naruto nodded enthusiastically as he got up. "Ya gotta use that shit in the academy tournaments!" He said with another grin. "I wanna be a fly on the wall when you hand Sasuke his ass."

"I don't think I could beat Sasuke." Hinata said softly.

"Then we're gonna keep training!" Naruto argued. "I wanna see ya knock his face in!"

Hinata giggled softly at the image Naruto's words conjured; She didn't seem to realize that Naruto's wide grin and cheerful attitude had rubbed off on her a little.

Naruto frowned. "Hey, Hinata." He said curiously. "Yer style's awesome an' all, but howzit work?"

Hinata frowned for a moment as she tried to figure out the best explanation to give.

"Well Naruto you know that exercise that sensei taught us at the academy? The one where you had to make a leaf stick to your forehead.?"

"Yeah, I r'member it." Naruto said with a nod.

Hinata smiled and continued. "Well my clan style sort of uses that technique, only we do it backwards so that it makes our attacks stronger and we attack vulnerable spots on our opponents bodies."

Naruto scratched his head. "That's it?"

Hinata blushed with embarrassment and touched the tips of her fingers together. "Well perhaps I didn't explain it very well-" She began only to be interrupted.

"No, you're awesome Hinata!" Naruto exclaimed with a grin. "Yer style just so cool that I thought there was more to it."

The only thing Hinata could say to that was a soft "Oh."

"Hey, thanks for the help, see ya tomorrow." Naruto departed with a grin and a wave.

Hinata hummed softly to herself on the way home.

Deep in the recesses of her heart she began to doubt the way her clan spoke about her being weak or a failure.

After all, Naruto was brave and determined, he never gave up and he always seemed to know what to do.

In short, he was the most awesome person that Hinata had met in the vast experience that her eleven years had brought her.

Naruto had looked her in the eye, smiled and told her that she was awesome too. And he had done it twice.
For the rest of the week the two children fell into a routine.
Hinata would arrive at the improvised training ground after lunch, usually to find that Naruto had spent most of the morning there already.

Naruto would join Hinata in her warm up and the two would run through a few forms and spar.
Neither noticed at the time but both of their fighting styles noticeably changed.

Many of the bad habits that Naruto's academy teachers had failed to correct Hinata simply took advantage of, and Naruto quickly adapted.
Naruto also adapted a few of the blocks, dodges and palm strikes from Hinata's Gentle Fist technique.

On the other hand Hinata learned to improvise to match an opponent who was both stronger and faster than she was; She also learned to integrate a few of the academy moves with her Juuken when it was to her advantage.

The end result for both of them was that they were slightly better at close combat and had started to develop a hint of the deadly grace that is common among truly talented ninja.

This change went unnoticed as important but subtle changes are wont to do, and many people would bitterly curse their inattention in the years to come.

The day before the Hyuuga clan tournament Hinata woke up early.

She felt much more confident in her skills than had before she started training with Naruto, but she was still nervous about the clan tournament the next day, and she wasn't sure what to do.

After breakfast she went out for a walk to try to clear her head, and spent a while wandering the village.

Soon her feet led her to the improvised training ground that she and Naruto had been using.

She was greeted by a dull thumping sound like a drummer pounding on a giant drum.
The drummer must have still been learning because they didn't seem to have the rhythm quite right, and they kept stopping every few hits.

Hinata quietly activated her Byakugan and looked around to find the source of the noise.

Hinata saw Naruto in the trees near the edge of the clearing where they trained together.

Hinata wasn't very surprised to see him there, she had suspected that Naruto was coming early to train for most of the week.

The thing that surprised Hinata is what Naruto did next.

Naruto began charging his hand with chakra.

Thanks to her Byakugan Hinata could see how much chakra he was gathering and the sheer quantity shocked her.

It looked like Naruto had reached out and grabbed a fist full of sunlight.

Then there was a flash that was nearly blinding to Hinata's chakra sensitive eyes as Naruto used all that chakra to perform a palm strike on the tree.

Hinata blinked the spots and tears from her eyes and quickly deactivated her Byakugan.
It seemed that she was just in time too, since just after she did she heard another dull thump as Naruto hit the tree with another chakra enhanced palm strike.

Once she was recovered Hinata made her way towards the noise of Naruto's training.

"Good morning, Naruto" she called when she got close.

"Oh, Hey Hinata." Naruto called back. "You're early." he said with a grin.

Hinata nodded pensively.

Naruto frowned, sensing something wrong with his friend.

Hinata clasped her hands nervously. "N-naruto, I won't be able to train with you tomorrow." She said.

Naruto scratched his head. "Why not?"

"W-well, the elders of my clan are making all of us spar in a clan tournament to see who is the strongest."

Naruto grinned. "That's great! Do ya get extra training for winning?"

Hinata shook her head. "N-not exactly, no." She said softly.

Naruto frowned. "Sweet prize?"

"Well I-" Hinata took a deep breath. "I think they are trying to decide if I should go into the branch house or if my sister should."

Hinata's statement simply caused Naruto to look confused. "Branch house?"

Hinata sighed. "My clan is divided into two houses." She explained. "The main house runs the clan, Everyone else has a seal placed on them and is placed in the branch house."

Naruto grinned. "So if ya win ya get special powers from this seal thing, eh?"

Hinata shook her head sadly. "N-not exactly." she explained. "The seal is called a caged bird seal, it's used to ensure that the branch house obeys the main house, and to make sure that our bloodline doesn't fall into enemy hands."

The cheerful expression melted off of Naruto's face, and Hinata looked over his shoulder and noticed that he had left perfect handprints in the tree with his palm strikes.

"Howzit do that?" Naruto asked with none of the usual cheer in his voice.

"W-well, the main house can use the seal to p-punish the branch house, and they can also use it to k-kill them and destroy their eyes if they are c-captured."

Naruto sent Hinata a harsh look. "So yer clan tortures an' kills their family?" He snapped.

Hinata blushed with embarrassment. "It's wrong but I can't stop it."

Naruto grinned at Hinata. "It's cool Hinata, You're awesome. You'll win."

Hinata suddenly found her feet very interesting. "I'm not sure I want to win." She said quietly.

"Why's that?" Naruto asked in shock.

"If I stay in the main house my sister will be moved to the branch house." She admitted. "I don't want her to get hurt."

"Hold on a tic, Main house's in charge, right?" Naruto asked slowly. Hinata nodded.

"So if ya win you'll be runnin' the clan one day?" Naruto continued.

"That's right." Hinata said softly.

Naruto's shoulders straightened and his jaw set.
"Hinata, do your best." He said firmly.
"That way your clan gets a badass who knows what's what rather than some asshole.
You're the only one who believes me when I say that I'm gonna be Hokage; Even other people that like me just nod and play along, and then they grin and roll their eyes when they don't think I'm lookin' but you- you're different. You don't do that.
So I'm gonna make ya a promise, I'm not just gonna get tougher so I can be Hokage.
I'm gonna get tougher so I can help you protect yer sister."
Now come on, we gotta get training."
Naruto continued with a grin. "You've gotta tournament ta win."

For once Hinata actually grinned in return.

The next day Hinata found herself matched against the worst possible opponent: Neji.
Neji was Hinata's cousin, and while he was only a year older than Hinata he was also considered the clan prodigy, and he was noted for beating several older and more experienced clan members in the past.

And now Hinata had to fight him.
As Hinata's panic started to rise she remembered Naruto's voice telling her that she had to do her best so that she could protect her sister.
Hinata took a deep breath, set her jaw and stepped up to the plain white circle that had been inlaid onto the floor of one of the clan dojos.

Hyuuga Haruki was the elder overseeing the match.
Upon seeing Hinata's expression he shot her a speculative glance, and then verified that Neji was in position.

Neji was there, with a slight sneer upon his face. "I came here to test my skill." He said. "Instead of a challenge the main house has offered an insult."

This caused Haruki's eyebrows to rise. "Are you ready, Neji?" He asked dryly. Neji nodded.

"And you Hinata?" Haruki continued. Upon seeing her nod He simply said "Begin." And silently activated his Byakugan.

Both Hinata and Neji also activated their Byakugan, and Neji darted forward intending to end the match quickly.

He aimed a Juuken strike at Hinata's shoulder in an attempt to disable her arm.
Hinata countered with what appeared to be a poorly executed academy block; Instead of redirecting the blow with her forearm the block seemed to come up too slowly and the move evolved into a clumsy seeming chop at his forearm.

Neji smirked in anticipation of victory until he saw Hinata's hand flare with chakra.
He felt the impact of his strike in his shoulder, but his hand was numb and he couldn't force her tenketsu closed.

Then he saw chakra build up in Hinata's hand as it darted towards his chest, followed by a bright flash.

The next thing Neji knew he found himself laying on his back trying to blink spots out of his eyes.

"Winner: Hinata." Haruki said evenly as Hinata hurried over to make sure Neji was alright.

Neji snarled, batted Hinata away and lurched to his feet.

He turned toward her angrily only to have Haruki step in front of them.

"The match is over." Haruki said icily.

"It was just a lucky hit." Neji snapped.

"Indeed it was." Haruki replied evenly. "However, had she performed a juuken strike instead of converting her chakra into kinetic energy she would have closed another of your tenketsu." he continued as he reached over and pulled the collar of Neji's shirt down.

Neji looked down and realized that there was a perfect palm shaped bruise forming on his chest.

"You are a prodigy, Neji." Haruki said. "But most of your opponents will not be as merciful as Hinata. Lucky strikes happen on missions, and you must learn to guard against them."

The world seemed to freeze for Neji when he realized that the bruise on his chest was forming directly over the tenketsu that powered his heart.
He couldn't believe that this had happened; How could the girl that destiny had decreed to be weak and a failure best him like this?

"Hinata held back from dealing any permanent damage to you; That was proper since harming you would be of no benefit to the clan." Haruki continued, seemingly unaware of Neji's shock.
"However she struck a blow that could have easily killed you after demonstrating her ability to follow through on such a blow, therefore I have declared her the winner. This is also proper, since lucky strike or no she would have ended you had you been a true enemy."

Haruki released Neji's shirt. "You are dismissed Neji." He said evenly.

Neji nodded slowly without seeming to hear him and walked from the room.

Haruki turned to leave as well, but he paused in the doorway and glanced over his shoulder at Hinata.

"Well done, child." He said with a small smile before continuing on his way.

Hinata walked slowly out of the dojo into the courtyard and paused when she found most of the clan present and nearly all of them looking at her.

She knew it was clan tradition to gather in the courtyard and use the bloodline to watch the matches through the dojo wall, but usually during such gatherings people would talk to and even look at one another since their nearly perfect panoramic vision would allow them to do so and still watch the fight.

It was rare to have everyone looking in the same direction, especially to do so silently, and yet they were Hinata realized nervously.

And they were doing it to stare at her.

"Shame on you!" One of the retired Kunoichi spat at her indignantly. "The Juuken form is perfect! Deviations from it are neither necessary nor will they be tolerated."

"Oh be shaddup ya ol' hag." An old man rebutted testily. "We're a shinobi clan. Shinobi are supposed to adapt and be unpredictable! Unconventional forms and tactics are unacceptable only if they fail."

That seemed to set off a deluge of conversation as nearly the entire clan tried to give their opinion at once.

"We should make that move a clan secret. I'm still seeing spots." A younger woman said as she rubbed her eyes.

"I think that getting knocked on his conceited little ass is good for Neji. Builds character." An old man cackled.

"We should build character in the younger generation on a regular basis." His old partner agreed with a grin.

"Neji's the best ninja ever, she cheated!" One of the children about to enter the academy shouted.

"Kid we're ninja, it's only cheatin' if the other guy's the one doin' it." A man wearing a Chuunen vest rebutted.

"What the hell were they teaching kids at that academy these days anyhow?" One of the retirees asked no one in particular.

"That attack would have been better if she had imbued it with wind chakra rather than regular chakra." A recently retired Jounin said.

"That's insane! Fire chakra is clearly a better choice." One of the Genin rebutted testily.

After a few more moments Hiashi's voice cut over the Chatter. "Silence."

He waited a moment for conversation to die down and then began speaking.

"I have consulted with my advisors and we have reached a consensus."

He gestured at the assembled elders standing nearby and continued.
"The decision is thus; Tradition and propriety are integral pillars of our clan, however the single thing that is least becoming a Hyuuga is defeat. As such the forms and tactics Hinata displayed during her spar are acceptable due to the fact that they brought victory. That is all."

"I'm surprised the elders took that stance, I thought for sure they were going to give her a hard time for improper form." Hinata heard someone say quietly.

"You should remember that they were all active service shinobi in their day too." Another voice pointed out. "They may be old and stuffy now, but most of them were Jounin or ANBU when they were younger."

As she went to bed Hinata the talk was still continuing in clumps.
She couldn't believe it, she had beat Neji, the person that everyone called the clan prodigy.