AN: I have been working for a long time to get to this point in my story. I want to thank all of you for coming with me on the journey so far, because, I am sure, there will be those who will have something to say at the end of the chapter.
For The Good Of The Village: Suitors Arc
Ch 3 For You
Five minutes before the Main House entered the Courtyard.
"You can't avoid your fate, Hinata-sama. Drag your feet all you want, but it is a useless tactic."
Hinata noticed Neji and several other Cadet members waiting for her in the hall to the main courtyard. Ko as well as a small army of female Cadet servants who helped Hanabi were about her, ready to answer the need should she ask of it. Neji, head lowered with the other Hyuuga Cadet family were next to him, prepared to enter the courtyard on either side of her spoke low enough for only her to hear.
She heard it, though, and decided, right then and there, to ask, "You didn't tell my father about Naruto-kun."
He graced her answer with a small, slim smile. "Tenten talked with me yesterday and I agreed to allow Fate to happen unaided. I'm sure you would do the same for me if the positions were switched."
She didn't miss his exceptionally bitter tone.
A hurt frown broke her expressionless mask her father had taught her and her sister, "I would, Neji nii-san. I really, really would."
"Of course you would, Hinata-sama."
Hinata began to argue, but her guard procession was already moving into the courtyard.
"Destiny awaits," He, as well as all the other Cadets bowed to her, allowing her to walk forward to, as Neji would put it, her fate.
"Hyuuga Hinata, step forward."
It was that time. The time she had been dreading since she was aware that a life with anyone of the suitors present would now be her new life and not the one she had envisioned with her Naruto-kun.
What made it all the more devastating was how brief she had known actual freedom. For two weeks, she had actually had a life outside of these walls and felt the shackles of her family fall off of her shoulders and simply lived as a normal, carefree girl...well, as far as kunoichi of the Leaf would allow.
Still, it was so much more!
And it was only...what? A week that her and her Naruto-kun were now...now...
His hands, his eyes, his voice, his lips.
...made her blush.
Squirming inside her fitted, outrageously expensive silk mauve and rich lilac kimono, she proceeded to the center as instructed. Her Hyuuga eyes took in the Clan Heads, each one standing proud, some not so proudly in the Nara's case.
She could see Shikamaru and his father exchange words, Shikamaru mouthing the word 'troublesome' several times. What did give her a sliver of amusement was the way he was taking very unstealthy glances at the fierce looking blonde with four tails sticking out of her head, while wearing in a pretty red native Sand dress.
To her honor, she kept a cool and regale presence next to a young man with stark red hair and a dark glower that sent a shiver down Hinata's spine.
"Now, Clan Heads," Hiashi called out, gesturing to Hinata, "please step forward and announce yourself to Hyuuga Hinata."
"I am Inuzuka Tsume with my daughter," The wild looking Inuzuka matron bowed roughly, hooking her thumb to her more feminine heiress. "Inuzuka Hana," Then to her right, "and my son Inuzuka Kiba. Representing the Land of Tea."
Kiba frowned visibly at the suitor he brought for her, shaking his head in a private warning.
It made her swallow nervously, but that was quickly assuaged by a wink over his tattoo'd cheek.
"Yamanka Inoichi," The tall handsome man presented himself, "and my heiress," He brought Ino up to his side, his hand on her back," Ino representing KiriKagure."
Ino gave her hair a pretty flip before giving an overly flamboyant curtsy. When she stood back up, she gave Hinata a bright smile.
"Akimichi Chouza," The thick bodied red headed man spoke, patting his equally rotund son with his grizzly bear paw sized hand, "And my heir, Akimichi Chouji, representing the Land Of Iron."
A noisy growl from both of their stomachs broke the solemn silence.
A few good natured chuckles echoed as loudly, lightening the mood.
Hyuuga Hiashi made no notice or word of it, so the procession continued.
"Aburame Shibi," The trench cloaked bug user approached, adjusting his round lensed sunglasses, tilted his head ever so lightly to his right, " and my heir, Shino, Representing the Kumokagure."
Shino nodded to Hinata in greeting, Hinata responded with a little wave of her hand.
Shuffling feet and suspicious Hyuuga members all kept their vigilant eyes on the trio of Kumo nins behind Shino. This was the first time they were allowed within the compound considering the history between them and what has happened to Hizashi and Hinata.
It was obvious, given the worried turn of her opalescent eyes that she didn't feel comfortable, but it was all for show.
The shinobi villages always had relations with each other, whether those relationships involved negotiation, theft, or down right war often depended on how badly they wanted to acquire something. It was peacetime so, for now, Kumo and the others were trying to acquire Hyuuga blood through marriage instead of kidnapping. Hinata didn't have to look behind her to see the scowl on Neji's face. It was easy for her to guess what he thought of having a representative from Kumo here.
Hiashi, also, took a moment to give Shibi's troupe a weighted stare.
However, just like that, he moved on.
"Thank you all, Clans of Konoha, for assisting the Hyuuga with this moment of our culture and tradition. Now then, Clan Heads reveal their suitors and chaperone for Hinata to bear witness to their presence."
Since it was Tsume that spoke first, she stepped away, revealing a handsome Westerner with a cigarette in his mouth, accompanied by a pretty, young woman, probably a sister by their similar hair and eyes.
Inoichi stood aside next, revealing a shy, spiky haired boy that looked ready to hide behind the shapely hips of the stunningly beautiful scarlet haired woman in a long, fitted blue dress with a revealing bust line.
Shikaku side stepped, allowing the red haired boy with glaring, moody eyes with a sand colored gourd on his back to step forward with the 'troublesome' blonde Shikamaru couldn't keep his eyes off of.
Shibi stepped back, allowing a dark skinned male with a lollipop in his mouth, standing next to two women: one with yellow eyes and crimson hair with a firm shinobi build, the other a trim woman with light grey hair and green eyes.
Chouza shuffled awkwardly, allowing a tall, proud looking samurai man with dark hair and equally dark eyes. Wearing the same custom samurai attire, was a younger teen girl with strong sibling features.
"Hyuuga Neji, step forward and join Hinata's side."
This part of the ceremony was expected. Those who would select a suitor would need an assistant and, possibly, a chaperone as well.
"Now, suitors for the Hyuuga, please, state your name."
The first to announce their self was...
"Terumi Mei," The model'esque woman from Kiri purred, raising her fingers into her cascading red and crimson locks, giving a sensual pose and a bawdy smile. "Lets build a beautiful relationship together."
"Primiko Mifune, forever at your service should you chose me," The female samurai from the Land Of Iron knelt, head lowered respectfully.
"Sabaku No Temari," Came the firm, fearless reply from the four pig tailed blonde from Suna, bowing gracefully and respectfully with her tensen fan snapped open, hiding her face. Unlike the others, she needed no other words to express herself.
"Mabui of Kumokagure, please allow me to be the first to mend our history through this union. It would be my greatest honor doing so." She offered a deep bend of her back, humbling herself.
Hinata started, unable to comprehend what was going on.
Neji, too, was at a loss for words, turning to face Hiashi at this unexplainable turn of events.
"Hiashi-sama, I don't believe it is a practice among the Hyuuga to have marriages of the same gender-"
This comment caused a round of chuckles to each and everyone there.
With a smile, Hiashi paced away from his brood of Main House members to personally explain it.
"Do you remember when I talked to you and Hanabi about the subject of suitors?"
Neji thought back, remembering about it usually being the duty of the Hyuuga to select a proper suitor for the Hyuuga, but there was more...
"Hiashi-sama, you said you wanted me to take particular care of Hinata-sama on my way back home." The gears in Neji's mind were turning furiously, trying to figure out where the trick was in all of this.
"Of course," Hiashi gestured to Hinata to join him. Shuffling to her father, she kept her normally timid eyes straight but curious as to what was going on. "She is here to be a witness and chaperone for the Hyuuga potentially accepting the suitor for marriage."
"It's not for me?" Hinata squeaked, turning to gawk at her father.
Hiashi, with a very mild, almost amused yet mischievous smile turned to Neji, speaking softly, "Did I ever say these suitors were for Hinata?"
The words were on the tip of his lips, that, yes, he had, but, looking back on what was said, verbatim...
"The Hokage has denied the Hyuuga's to seek out diplomatic expeditions and has now left it in the hands of the other families of Konoha in our stead. There was a particular matter that needed to be address that was coming up and was now denied. The Elder's were not happy about it, especially when the subject of 'suitors' comes into play."
"Suitors?" Hanabi parroted.
"Yes," He turned slightly to his daughter. "When a Hyuuga comes of age, there is the process to seek out a suitable mate for them to wed into our Clan. That was the mission we were trying to request from the Hokage before we were turned away."
He sighed and pinched the bridge of his nose. "How they can determine the value of our needs through the perspective of anyone's eyes but our own has me worried, but it is no longer in our hands. So," He turned to Neji, "when you are on your way to escort Lady Hinata back from Wave Country, I want you to take particular care. Is that understood?"
All he had said was that he needed to ensure Hinata came back safely, but, looking back at it now, it was easy to see where the small twist in misreading his words.
"Then who are the suitors..." Hinata asked, but, realizing the way ceremony was carried out.
One person had to be the witness and chaperone, the other was the one being sought after by suitors. Hiashi had stated, before hand, for the suitors were to come forward for Hinata to witness the proceedings.
If she was the witness, the one being proposed to was...
"Hyuuga Neji," Hiashi put his arm around his nephew, turning him to face the quartet of women, "they're here for you."
AN: Now, for all of you who absolutely KNEW how this story was going, I have to ask this: How sure are you about that now?
Thanks for reading.
PS- There have been a few people who have pointed out Gerard Betrand and that I've made a mistake in my context of the chapter 'Suitors' in For The Good Of The Village: Wave Arc. All I have to say is this: Have I?
Think about it.