Hinata sat quietly in the classroom waiting for Iruka-sensei to arrive. Though she stared down at the top of the table, she knew her classmates around her were busy chatting or horsing around. Choji was munching on a bag of chips. Most of the girls, including Sakura and Ino, were standing in a gaggle near Sasuke, who sat quietly brooding. Shino and Kiba were talking and laughing near the back of the room. Shikamaru seemed to be napping.
Suddenly, a familiar voice drifted across the room to Hinata’s ears. She looked up to see Naruto staring at Sasuke. Blushing, the dark-haired girl looked down again and a smile crept onto her face as she recalled her early childhood days…
Five-year-old Hinata walked down the crowded streets of Konohagakure behind her father, the leader of the Hyuga clan. Neji, her cousin, walked beside her, looking over every few minutes to flash a quick smile. He had always been near her as long as she could remember. According to her father, Neji would become her personal guard one day, just as Neji’s father guarded him. Hinata’s father and Neji’s father were twin brothers and Hinata’s father was the leader of the clan only because he was older by a few minutes.
Today, Hinata’s father was going to talk to the Hokage to discuss business that Hinata knew nothing about. She and Neji had, however, begged their fathers to take them along. They did not want to be stuck in the Hyuga house all day. For them, leaving the gates of the Hyuga house was a rare treat, and both children jumped at the chance to walk down the streets of Konohagakure.
“Hey, Hinata,” Neji said, tugging on her sleeve and pointing, “look at that!” Hinata looked in the direction the boy was pointing. Flying above their heads from a vendor’s stand were several brightly-colored fish kites. The shy little girl stared up at the kites in wonder. “Aren’t they pretty, Hinata?” the dark-haired boy asked. “Uhm…y-yes. Th-they are, Neji,” she answered. The kites fluttered and flopped in the slight breeze, making them seem to be alive. Hinata continued to stare in wonder at their many colors. She wanted to touch one, to go running off holding the string tightly as other children gazed up in wonder at her prize.
“Hinata!” Neji called. “Hinata, come on! We’re gonna lose our dads!” Hinata’s head whipped around to look for her cousin, but he was already gone, disappeared into the crowds. Not wanting to be left behind, she ran in the direction the party had been heading. She pushed and darted through the crowds, frantically looking for her cousin and, more importantly, her father.
Up ahead, Hinata thought she saw her father. She ran towards the man and clamped onto his leg tightly. The man looked down as she looked up and Hinata realized the leg she had just hugged did not belong to her father. She let go and began backing away slowly. “Hey, what do you think you’re—Oh,” the man said, staring at the dark-haired girl. “Aren’t you a cute little thing. Hehe.” Hinata didn’t know why, but for some reason, the man’s smile frightened her. “I’d love to take you home with me. I bet you’d be a lot of fun,” the man said, continuing to grin.
“Hey!” a harsh voice called out. “Leave her alone!” Hinata looked in the direction of the voice and found that it’s owner was a blond boy that seemed to be her age. He had blue eyes and a dirty face. “Oh? And just why should I, you mongrel?” the man questioned. “’Cause if ya don’t, I’ll have to beat you up!” the boy challenged. The man laughed harshly and replied, “Ah, whatever. Keep her. She’s not worth the trouble, you mutt.” The man turned back around and waded his way through the crowd.
“Are you okay?” the boy asked. “Um, y-yeah,” Hinata answered quietly. “My name’s Naruto. What’s yours?” he asked. “H-Hinata,” she stammered, beginning to cry. “Aw, hey, don’t do that, Hinata. It’s okay now. That man’s not gonna hurt you. If he does, he’ll be sorry! Believe it!” Naruto said. Hinata sniffled and looked up to find him smiling broadly and giving her a thumbs-up. “I-it’s not the man. I-I’m lost,” she said, wiping her eyes with her sleeve. “Oh,” the blond boy said. “Well, if you want, you can stick with me until we find your parents or someone you know.” He suddenly stopped grinning, noticing Hinata’s eyes.
“Hey, how come your eyes look weird?” he asked. Hinata blushed and looked down at her fingers, twiddling them. “Th-that’s because I’m f-from the Hyuga c-clan,” she replied, her voice nearly inaudible. Naruto studied her more closely. “Ya know,” he said, a grin slowly spreading across his face again, “that man was right about one thing.” Hinata’s face turned deep red as she looked up at the blond boy. “You are cute.” Hinata looked down again and mumbled, “Th-thank y-you, N-Naruto-kun.”
A hand suddenly grabbed Hinata’s shoulder. She quickly turned around to find her father, her uncle, and Neji. “Naruto, hmm? I know who you are, you mutt,” her father said gruffly. “Don’t you even look at my daughter again.” Hinata looked at Naruto, then to Neji, receiving smiles from both. She then looked at her father and said, “Father, Naruto-kun s-saved me. I-I was looking at the fish kites, and then y-you were gone. I started running through th-the crowd and I thought I saw you, so I-I ran t-to you and g-grabbed your leg, o-only it w-wasn’t you. It was a s-stranger and he wanted to hurt m-me, so Naruto-kun saved me.”
The leader of the Hyuga clan looked down at his daughter to find tears in her eyes. “He saved you? Well, that deserves a reward, doesn’t it?” He looked over at the blond boy, who was scowling at him. “I suppose we have time for a bowl of ramen before we meet with the Hokage.” He looked back down at Hinata, smiled, and patted her head…
Hinata’s attention was snapped back to the classroom as she heard Naruto’s name called. She looked up to see the blond boy preparing to make the clone Iruka-sensei had asked of him. The dark-haired girl looked down and began twiddling her fingers. Do your best, N-Naruto-kun! she thought to herself.