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Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Beautifully Graceless

Language: English

Hinata waited silently at the deserted altar. Everyone's eyes were glued to her, until their unsympathetic stares began to affect her vision. She shuddered violently in her pretty, white gown; the bouquet in her grasp rattled emptily. All she could see now was a veritable sea of blank pools, all watching her foolish dream fall from grace.

He was not coming. His happy blue eyes did not peek from the stony audience with childish endurance; he was simply not here, and not coming.

Hinata fought back the flood of tears threatening to spill over in this wrecked occasion. How stupid she was to have hoped and believed. But she believed in him and he...

Not a single soul sensed her desolation. Oh, they knew, and a cruel, laughing derision flitted through their eyes.

How pitiful. A bride abandoned at the altar.

Hinata saw their eyes crinkle at the corners with a secret knowledge she knew not; laughing, they were laughing.

Hinata cringed visibly, lowering her hurt gaze to the beautiful carpet beneath her feet. She could not see it for the tears.

She could hardly believe he was standing her up. Even he, who had never ridiculed her, did so now. Not him, not Naruto. But, she reminded herself, what more was there to expect? Hinata was not a woman of happy endings.

The evening was a disaster.

She stood there for what seemed like hours, when only thirty minutes had passed. She felt weak in the knees. She couldn't stand it anymore--being alone, abject symbol of failure. Stumbling with what seemed like stiff, jelly legs, she took tentative steps off the dais and haltingly tripped back down the altar's ethereal carpet.

Surprise registered in her audience's eyes, but she could see beyond the astonishment; she could see their amusement. How could they be so cruel?

"Hinata," Tenten called--a little reluctantly. Tenten was donned in an iridescent bridesmaid's dress, looking so much more beautiful than she. Hinata shook her small head; Tenten had the same look in her eyes.

Hinata felt like a freak. Ridicule, it was in everyone's eyes, everyone who beheld her tragic state.

Even her Naruto must have been roaring with laughter at her now. To think he had ever loved her; it was an illusionary dream come to an end. He always did like to play games, but this...?

"I'm sorry...everyone," she tried in a low mumble of burning ignominy. She was going to call it off, call off the wedding. It was about time to stop hoping.

Suddenly, the doors burst open. Hinata's heart leapt with hope, but crashed down immediately.

"I'm so sorry I'm late!" the man cried, looking disheveled. "It was--the preparations--"

Even the wedding cake was late. Hinata bit her lip, trying to keep herself from telling the flustered delivery boy that it was no longer necessary; no one was going to cut the cake with her...

"Ah!" His eyes alighted on her, standing a few steps from the altar. "Miss Hyuuga!" He hurried forth, wheeling the enormous, towering cake toward her with a bright, oblivious smile.

"" she managed, weakly making motions to decline.

He stopped right in front of her, giving her a grin that reminded her of someone who was not here. "I hope I'm not too late; please, Miss Hyuuga, have some cake!"

Hinata stared, horror-struck. He couldn't possibly...! How foolish, how wrong she would look accepting the cake herself!

Incinerating humilation threw her cheeks into flame. Did they enjoy seeing her this way? She...she wouldn't give them the pleasure of watching her cry. No, not anymore.

"No, I'm sorry," she murmured quietly, with a barely perceptible shake of her head. She started to push past him, when she was halted by the pleading, begging look in his eyes. He'd gone through so much trouble just to deliver it--if she didn't accept it--he could get fired--ruined, everything was ruined.

Despite the bitterness, Hinata could not find it herself to deny this boy.

Stupid. She was being so stupid.

So, what if she did cut the cake? This boy, in his haste, did not realize that it was no longer a delightful celebration, but rather, a satirical farce. He was so blind. If only he had taken a clear look at her face--her quivering lips, her brimming eyes, her burning cheeks...

What was she doing?

'Hinata Hyuuga,' Hinata lambasted with self-disgust, 'you are weak. You are a hopeless case. A push-over.'

At least, in this one forced gesture, she could spare this worried delivery boy some humilation, even at the cost of her own.

With shaking hands, she took the broad cake knife and slit it into the fluffy texture. Oh, how the world laughed at her so.

The quivering steel sailed effortlessly through the golden texture; Hinata struggled to hold in her tears, at least until she could get away, out of view.

Suddenly, Hinata Hyuuga yelped, crashing unceremoniously backwards.

The red-ribboned knife clattered to the floor.

The cake had jiggled, then exploded.

There was a mortifying silence.

Hinata was completely caked in what once was a magnificent confectionary.

There was no laughter; but Hinata saw--they were grinning.

Hot tears scraped like daggers down her cheeks. 'Wh-why are they s-so mean--'

An exurberant blonde burst from the confides of the ruined dessert--where there laid a hidden cavity; he, too, was covered absurdly by golden pieces and white frosting.

But his face was glowing.


Hinata was robbed completely of her mind. She wasn't even aware of getting to her feet. She just stared dumbly at her fiance as if he had been a vagrant taken straight off the streets to leap from her wedding cake and send her into shock.

Everyone's faces betrayed the secret; they had known.

They had known.

It was all some elaborate plan of her unorthodox inamorato to make their union unforgettable. (However touching that particular thought was, it was still poorly-designed. Really. This was an important ceremony, after all, and, of all the women, Hinata's feelings must have been the most frangible.)

It finally made sense; the late delivery...and most importantly, manifested mirth from her guests' was so...

Well, unforgettable it was.

Mentally scarred Hinata, that's what.

Naruto grinned cheekily at her, his sparkling blue eyes narrowed from all the happiness he was emanating., his arms thrown out at his sides to emphasis the grandeur of it all. Judging from his unparalleled radiance, Hinata dimly realized Naruto honestly thought he was being brilliant.

"Will you marry me, Hinata?" Naruto questioned suddenly, with an uncharacteristic note of apprehension. He flushed faintly, holding out the wedding band for her.

To Naruto's utter and complete horror, Hinata bowed her head and started...sobbing, her tiny fists clenched and shaking at her sides.


Naruto hurried quickly out of the ruins, stumbling and reaching for his fiancee. "Hi-hinata--" Naruto felt so dirty. He just made Hinata cry. Oh, gods.

When he motioned to pull her into one of his beautiful, strengthening embraces, she actually--visibly--flinched from him. To say the least, it absolutely broke Naruto's heart.

"Hinata..." he croaked, "I'm...I'm so sorry." His expression looked like that of a kicked puppy, and tears were fast gathering in his own eyes.

"N-naruto..." Hinata gasped. "Please...please don't cry."

"No, Hinata, I'm really sorry...I shouldn't have...I should have known that...I'm so stupid. So stupid! I just--"

Without a word, Hinata flung herself bodily at him, her face buried in his chest. His arms automatically encircled her petite form; they fit together like a two-piece puzzle.

"I was just...just so scared, Naruto..." Hinata's familiar gestures instantly relieved Naruto. He tried to wipe some of her drying tears away.


"I...I thought," she hiccuped, looking terrified of whatever flitting thought had just crossed her mind, "I thought you didn' me." She looked ever-so-vunerably at him.

"No! ...No, never, Hinata," Naruto assuaged. Naruto's cheeks rounded again as he grinned. "You're always so silly, Hinata."

"Na-naruto, how could you...accuse me of being silly when you..." She blinked blearily at the extraordinary set-up. She buried her face back in his cake-encrusted tuxedo.

"Hinata..." Naruto's arms tightened instinctively around her. He leaned closer, whispering into her ear. "Will you marry me?"

A choked sob? A laugh?

"O-of course, I will, Naruto..."

Of course...Hinata didn't totally let that incident go. She wasn't that much of a push-over.

She got him back a year later, when Naruto found out he was going to be father...while hosting a very public Chuunin exam tournament.

He screamed bodily--and incoherently--at the Kazekage Gaara next to him--terrifying him in the meanwhile--and then passed out with a silly, blissful expression on his face.

Yes, unforgettable, indeed..

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