Warnings: Spoliers. Post war arc.

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The worst feeling is not being alone, it's being forgotten by someone you could not forget.

—Nishan Panwar—

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Chapter 1: The Forgotten Heiress

It was the middle of July and Hinata Hyuga was wearing her jacket.

That was nothing out of the usual to the average Konohaian citizen. Everyone in the Leaf Village and their grandmother knew how modest the Hyuga heiress could be. She was so modest that Hinata wore jackets year round. However, if one paid close attention they would have realized the coat in general was a heavier, denser coat only meant to be worn for the winter months. Not to mention that Hinata appeared to be suffocating in it. She would wiped the sweat off her brow as she trudged along. Self-consciously she puffed out the front of her thick jacket several times.

Hinata froze when she saw orange. Only one person in the whole village had the nerve to wear such a bright and suicidal color and his name was Naruto Uzumaki. 'Naruto… he's…he's coming this way! I don't know if I can face him at the moment b-but this may be my only chance!' Hinata thought desperately.

Naruto's face lit up. "Hiya Hinata!" He greeted his long-time friend cheerfully. "I haven't seen you around lately!" He bounced right up to her. Even if Hinata wanted to run there was no escape for her. "I've heard from Granny Tsunade that you've been turning down missions lately, so what's up with that?"

Indeed Hinata had been avoiding missions. At this point and in her delicate condition she couldn't take the risk. It's not like she had the chakra to do the assignments anyway. Most of her chakra was now being focused to the… she hesitated. Naruto frowned with concern. "Hey, what's wrong? You seem a little down…"

"Um… N-Naruto-kun…" Hinata pressed her fingers together nervously. And here she thought she had out grown the nervous habit. "I n-need to talk to you…" Then again she had a right to be nervous. The situation was dire and only by Naruto's choice could things get better or worse for her.

"About what?" Naruto asked.

Hinata blinked, slightly surprised. "Y…you know…w-what happened t-three months ago…" she stuttered horribly before trailing off.

Naruto cocked his head to the side. "What about three months ago?" He asked. Hinata gaped in disbelief. Her pale pupilless eyes looked absolutely devastated. Naruto was alarmed. Was there something he was supposed to remember? He desperately racked his brain for an answer only to come up short. Hinata meanwhile went from looking distraught to being angry: VERY angry.

Naruto gulped as he took a step back. "Say, Hinata…wh…what's—"

SMACK

A fiery lick of pain and a throbbing cheek later, it took Naruto a few seconds to realize that he had been slapped and by all people, Hinata Hyuga! 'She…she slapped me?!' Naruto asked himself. He gingerly touched his cheek. "H-Hey! What was that for?" he cried out but Hinata was already gone.

Hinata ran as far away as she could, her sweat flowing behind her like tears. It was an amazing feat for being so hungry, low on chakra and most likely on the verge of a heat stroke. Hinata barely made it to the edge of the training grounds before she collapsed against a tree. Sinking down against the trunk, Hinata panted greedily for air. 'Water…' she thought weakly. Hinata pulled out a water bottle and drank greedily from it. She unzipped her jacket to her breastbone.

"HEY! HINATA!"

Hinata's breath hitched as Naruto appeared before her. The red trim around his golden eyes faded away and his eyes returned to the color of sky blue. "…He used sage chakra sensory." She sighed irritably. "Damn it..." She let out a rarely used curse to shun herself for her stupidity. There was no use trying to outrun him.

"What gives!?" Naruto rubbed his swollen red check. "Why did you slap me?"

Hinata turned away from him. Her throat clenched. "My h-hand slipped…" she muttered.

Naruto stared at her disbelievingly. "…seriously?"

Hinata wanted to roll her eyes. Yes, seriously Naruto. "Y-Yeah… I…I'm sorry"

Naruto gave her another look before shrugging it off. "Okay, well, your apology is accepted!" He chirped cheerily before saying concernedly, "You look like you're having a rough day… Normally you're not like this…so do you wanna tell me what's going on?"

Hinata shook her head. "Y-you can't help, Naruto-kun"

Naruto stood there dumbstruck by Hinata's strange behavior. "What do you mean I can't? I'm sure I can h—"

"You can leave now" Hinata said quietly but firmly.

Naruto knelt down before her. "Ah come on Hinata don't be like that!" He whined. "I have something to give you after all!"

Curiosity peeked, Hinata turned her wearied eyes to him. "…What is it?"

Naruto grinned brightly. He reached into his pocket and pulled out a fancy pink and white envelope. "You ran away so quickly that I didn't get the chance to invite you!" He handed it to her.

Hinata's hands shook as she read the invitation. "A w-wedding invitation…?"

"Yeah, I proposed to Sakura-chan last week, we're going to get married!" Naruto announced happily. Hinata's mouth fell open in shock. "Sakura said she wanted you to be in the wedding, but since she had an emergency trip to the Land of Honey, she wanted me to give you this and she'll contact you as soon as possible. The wedding is in a month. We decided to have it on my Hokage inauguration day! It'll be a two for one celebration! Tee-hee!"

Hinata lost her grip on the letter. It fluttered to the ground. "You…you don't remember what happened three months ago at the Crystal Palace?" She asked frantically once more. Naruto scratched the back of his head. "Man you keep mentioning that..." He muttered. He swooped down to pick up her invitation. "Is that why you slapped me, Hinata?" His eyes turned apologetic. "Did I do something wrong?"

Hinata couldn't bring herself to tell Naruto. Naruto frowned; he could sense Hinata's heavy heart even without his sage powers. "Hinata, if I have done anything wrong please tell me so I can make it right! You're one of my best friends!" He insisted earnestly. Hinata looked up into those determined eyes. "I-I was mistaken…it's nothing, Naruto" Hinata turned away yet again.

"Hiiiiiiinaaaaata-chan!" Naruto wailed. " What's the matter?! I'm just getting married it's not the end of the world—Oh…!" Naruto's eyes widen when he remembered Hinata's feelings for him. He never quite felt the same about her and now he felt like a senseless dolt. Being an idiot he just skips up to the girl who crushed on him for years; the girl who nearly died for him twice and hands her a wedding invitation. How tactless was that?

"Wait… now I understand, Hinata!" Naruto reached out to her gently. "I know you still…." He trailed remorsefully as he pulled her into a hug. Hinata squeaked and stiffened, only wanting to pull away so Naruto wouldn't sense the… Hinata managed to at least keep their stomachs from touching each other. "Hinata-chan…. I'm sorry I couldn't feel the same" He apologized sincerely.

Hinata squeezed her eyes shut in agony. Just what she needed MORE pity and apologizes due to guilt. She was so far down on Naruto's list that it has resulted to this? Having enough degradation for one day, Hinata shook out of Naruto's grip (which took a lot of effort). Ignoring Naruto's hurt look, she stood up wobbly. "Good-bye, Naruto… congratulations…" Hinata wobbled out there and this time the Rokudaime Hokage-to-be did not follow her.

As Naruto stared wordlessly after her, he felt the same feeling he hated the most: helplessness. It really sucked to have a dear friend who wanted more than you were able to give. Naruto knew there was nothing he could say to comfort Hinata's broken heart. Seeing the one you love chase after another hurts period. Sakura used to run after Sasuke when she was a child and it shook him to the core. He would have given Hinata a chance but he loved Sakura-chan. It wasn't fair to string along a person when you really wanted someone else.

A tingle of hope ignited into Naruto's heart. Hinata-chan was strong-willed and her inner strength matched his, a rare feat indeed. 'She will be okay' he thought to himself. Still… he had to do something for her or his conscious will forbid him from walking down the aisle happily. Maybe he could try and set her up with someone else... That's it! She could date and marry so she wouldn't feel lonely anymore! Naruto had other things to do that included Hokage training with Tsunade but a friend was in need!

The old hag could screech at him later.


Hinata hesitated before entering the Hyuga compound. Activating her chakra, she cloaked the new chakra within her own before walking through the threshold. The technique was tiring but she had to do it or else the all-seeing eyes of the byakugan would see her secret. Hinata rushed to her chambers. Once in the privacy of her rooms, Hinata practically tore the suffocating jacket off and collapsed backward on her bed gasping. After lying there under the spinning ceiling fan, Hinata began to cool down and her sluggish, muddled thoughts out became clearer. The clearer her mind became, the more it began to reminisce today's events.

Naruto had forgotten about her. Again. How typical… Hinata knew she was never high on his list to begin with but she at least had expected him to remember that. Then again he thought he was with "Sakura-chan." For the first time in her life a sense of bitter resentment build up and clutched at her chest. So in reality what did she expect? Hinata choked back a sob as she hastily reached into the nightstand beside her bed and pulled out a tiny herb.

Looking at it was like holding death itself in the palm of her hand. Its twisted gray bark had a rough bumpy feel to it. Hinata traced her thumb around the sharp edged leaf. This sinister little plant was the shippai herb. Hinata had been staring at it for many weeks. It was the last week she could use the herb or else she could have complications if she decided to. Tears came to the corner of Hinata's eyes as she let the herb fall to the wooden floor. Her hands cupped the small fleshy mound protruding from her abdomen. She just couldn't do it! But if she didn't do it then what?

Hinata inhaled sharply trying to calm herself down. She retrieved the plant from the ground before flinging it away, as if it was poisoned, into the wastebasket beside her bed. Her selfless act turned into a selfish cry as tears finally fell from her eyes. She wept bitterly with the dread of what was to come now she had chosen not to use the shippai herb. Suddenly there was a knock at the door. "Hinata-sama" called a servant.

Hinata quickly lowered her shirt. Hastily she wiped the tears from her face and cleared her throat before answering, "Y-Yes?"

"Your father wishes to see you. Please go to his study"

Hinata's eyes widen in fear. "I'll… be right there…t-thank you" Her stomach lurched to think her father had found out already, especially after all the effort she had put into keeping everyone as oblivious as possible for the past three months. Hinata placed her jacket back on. Her hand trembled as she zipped it up to her neck. Taking deep breathes, Hinata tried to stay calm as she walked toward her father's study like a lamb being lead to the slaughter. She could only hope it was something unrelated to her circumstance. To her relief it was not but to Hinata's ever-growing misfortune, it was something worse. Hinata paled horribly. She was already pale but now deathly pale. "Y-You have found me a match?" Her intuition was right. When her father called her to his office it was never a good thing.

"Yes" Hiashi nodded. "He is Etsuya, the young Daimyo of the Land of Steam. You shall be a fitting bride for him"

Hinata sunk her fingers into her knees. If it wasn't for the protective fabric of her pants, she would have drawn blood. Marriage…the idea wouldn't have been so bad but now… Becoming devious Hinata thought. 'Maybe if I lay with him, I can pass the baby off as his but I'm over three months in and marrying him in two months…I cannot pass it off. Even if I was to somehow able to carry the baby pass term, I am starting to show now…Etsuya-sama will notice when we consummate our marriage.'

Hinata knew she had to come clean. It was only a matter of time and the charka cloaking was not going to hold forever. "F-father forgive me but I must decline this marriage to Etsuya-sama" Hinata bowed her head apologetically to her father. Hiashi's eye narrowed a small fraction. "Why? He is a good match" he insisted. Hinata gulped. "And I am sure he is…h-however I cannot marry him…Father…I…I'm…pregnant!" Hinata blurted out tactlessly. She slapped a hand over her mouth.

"What!?" The Hyuga leader barked in disbelief. Hiashi activated his byakugan and there he saw it, a new chakra pattern forming within his daughter. Hinata watched in horror as the veins on the side of her father's forehead bulged gruesomely and began to turn purple. In a low biting tone he demanded, "Who sired it?" Hinata fidgeted nervously. "Um…" Hinata knew she had done the wrong thing as soon as hesitated because now her father looked even more furious. "Answer me!" He yelled.

"I…" Hinata paused before lying, "I d-don't know!"

Hiashi stared at her. Hinata shook on the spot under his burning glare like a delicate flower withering under the scorching sun. Finally, Hiashi said two words, "…Get out"

Hinata reeled back in fear. "F-Father?"

Hiashi was losing what little self-control he had left. "I SAID GET OUT!" He roared this time. Hinata didn't hesitate to obey. She scurried out the room like a frightened mouse, nearly falling as she went. A part of Hiashi wished she had tripped. Perhaps she would have lost the … Hiashi sighed as he grievously dropped his head into his hands. If it was not one disgrace from his eldest daughter it's another.

Hiashi tore up the marriage contract on his desk and threw it into the waste bin.

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Next chapter: The Disgraced Heiress