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Sunday, April 27, 2008


Disclaimer : I do not own Naruto. If you've read my other stories, you would know this by now.


Written by PhoenixClaw

Wow, its been a while since I've submitted anything. Still, it feels good to finally be productive again. Lets see if i can keep this trend going.

But enough of that. Let me explain one thing before I leave you to read my story:

This is based off an old literary tale I remember reading many years ago, something which I deliberately did not look up so as to create a unique story of my own without relying too heavily on someone else's work. Thus, if you recognize certain plot elements, then not only does it mean you are well read, but I also implore you not to think I inadvertently stole someone else's idea.

The style is intended to be Victorian to fit with the original tale, though I of course put my own slant on things to make it my own. If I'm not mistaken, the original was meant to convey a strong moral, something I hopefully emulated to a satisfactory degree.

Please enjoy my fanfiction, based on one of the greatest short stories I have ever read.

Once upon a time...

In a snow-capped shinobi village far, far away...

Lived a young couple eagerly awaiting their first Christmas spent together.

It was not lavish gifts nor elegant parties that they so looked forward to, for those things had been lost upon their exchange of vows, but rather a sense of simple togetherness during this precious time of year. Having relinquished her future inheritance for the hand of a lowly blond pauper, Hyuuga Hinata had embraced a life of lack and want so as to be with her one true love, a care-free spirit by the name of Uzumaki Naruto.

But not all material wealth had been lost amidst such a binding. Viewed as one of the most beautiful women in all of Konaha, Hinata had often been stopped by passers-by, old and young, male and female, so that they might marvel at and compliment the sheer elegance of her waist-length amethyst waves of blue-black hair. A sight to behold at any time of day, more than a few men had become early risers so as to witness the brisk rays of dawn transform the young woman into a glimmering angel delicately placed upon the landscape.

Her young husband likewise held an item of great value, that being a solitary memento from his deceased father, Namikaze Minato, a man immortalized by his stalwart leadership and decisive strength. Placed ever so lovingly atop their sparse mantle rested the last surviving kunai Minato-sama had used to protect his village during the Third Great Shinobi War. A precious keepsake to some, a valuable artifact to others, the handmade weapon held a special place in the young man's heart of which no amount of money could overturn. Reverently dusted each morning, the glistening sparkle from the blade rhythmically danced across the room in tune with the happy hearts dwelling therein.

And made happier still as they walked down the snowy road, hand in hand, gazing through storefront windows at all the joys and toys displayed behind large glass walls.

“Oh, Naruto, look!”, exclaimed the young woman, her cheeks aflame amidst the freshly fallen snow.

“Hmm?”, came the groggy reply, drawn out through a stifled yawn befitting the man's unkempt golden locks.

As he turned towards the showcase, a somber wooden horse rocked back and forth in greeting, eliciting small squeals of delight from a child already inside. Hinata nuzzled her chin a bit deeper into her coat, fiddling with the zipper as she tried to fend off the winter chill.

“Wouldn't it be wonderful if we...I mean, maybe next time I...I'll finally...” The young woman's words gradually trailed off as she gazed longingly towards the energetic child dashing and prancing about the noble steed. Without conscious thought, her hands slowly came to settle upon her belly as the stiff wind buffeted a fading smile painted across sorrow-laden lips. Naruto stepped forward behind his wife, intertwining his fingers with her own.

“I know, you're right. It would be wonderful, and...we'll just keep trying...”

An honest smile once more bloomed upon her face, mirrored now by her husband, and the two shared a quick kiss before moving on.

Alas, the warmth of a smile could not long fend off the icy gale whipping about the two, and it was with a mirthful laugh that both young lovers dashed towards a nearby storefront in hopes of rest and reprieve. 'Nara Gifts and Antiques' was emblazoned upon the glass entryway, flanked by two deer motifs on either side. A small bell hanging above the door signaled their entrance, as well as a lazy grunt of acknowledgment from the store owner leaning heavily atop his counter.

“Eh, haven't seen you two in a while. This weather is proving troublesome for business...” A yawn forced its way past the lips of their long-time friend as Shikamaru absently scratched his jaw. From the back of the shop appeared a woman and a tea set, each cup and saucer decorated with an ornate paper fan. The young pair hardly had time to offer a 'good morning' before Temari placed two steaming cups before them.

“Naruto and Hinata! It's been quite some time, hasn't it? I don't suppose you've finally decided to sell Minato-sama's kunai to my husband now, have you? A little extra money never hurt anyone on Christmas Eve.”

Naruto flinched a bit at the words, taking a few moments to gather his thoughts behind a sip of tea.

“No, nothing like that. We just came in to escape the cold for a few moments.” Hinata nodded accordingly, taking the opportunity to lace her fingers about the invigorating heat of her drink.

“We appreciate the offer, but its all we have left to remember him by. I would never ask Naruto to part with something so precious, and the money isn't that important to us.”

From his slouched position off to the side, Shikamaru offered a lazy nod and grin.

“Well, thats fine then. Just remember, if you ever do decide to sell, come to me first. I hate playing games when moneys involved; its too troublesome. Give them a fair price the first time around and they'll remember it, thats what I figure.” His wife promptly cast him a scornful look.

“And thats why this place is in shambles! You have no drive for business whatsoever! Its no wonder we barely make ends meet; do you know how nice this store could be if you actually put some effort into it? Pick up a broom once in a while!” Her husband slouched down even further and released a sigh.

“Women are so troublesome...”

What was that?

Sharing a private smile, Hinata and Naruto finished their drinks in modest silence amidst the one-sided battle. If ever they needed a reminder of the love hidden within such fiery sparks, one need look no further than the bulge tucked behind a clean apron, signifying the imminent birth of another mouth to feed as well as another body to scold.

When each had finished their tea, a pair of meek goodbyes were hastily uttered as the two newlyweds wandered off into the street once more. An assortment of shops greeted the two as they continued on their way: embroidered linens for the dinner table, down comforters hand-stitched in the Land of Waves, glass sculptures imported all the way from Suna and a gorgeous haircare beauty set each elicited a second glance from the young woman. Knowing such things were beyond her current station in life, Hinata pulled her husband along and quickly placed such exotic frivolities out of her thoughts.

After several more stores and a score of stolen kisses, Naruto glanced towards the still-rising sun, a shallow frown pulling at the corners of his mouth.

“...I have to get to work. Tsunade-baa-chan wants me to finish some last minute Academy paperwork before everyone goes home for the holidays.”

His young wife cast him a sad smile, but soon found solace in a gracious hug befitting her husband.

“Then I'll see you tonight,“ she whispered in his ear, a sultry breath offsetting the mid-morning chill, “and we can open our presents a family.”

Naruto nodded wholeheartedly, then turned to nuzzle her with a kiss before catching her eye with a wink.

“And don't forget, we agreed now; nothing expensive. Just a little something to help decorate the house for the New Year, right?”


With the day's events now set to unfold, the young couple shared another brief kiss before Naruto formed a familiar hand seal and disappeared in a puff of smoke. Left to brave the inclement weather on her own, Hinata pulled out a diminutive purse so that she might see the modest funds from which to acquire something for her beloved husband. A sparse smattering of small bills greeted her, causing her brow to furrow slightly; not much, but still enough for a thoughtful gift.

As fortune would have it, the young woman already knew precisely what she intended to purchase in memory of their first holiday spent together. Mindful not to let on that she had kept an eye out all morning for the perfect present, it had been a great effort to stifle a gasp when a glass-domed weapon's display, just the right size for a mantle showcase, caught her interest in the recesses of a small storefront window. 'Christmas Eve blowout sale! Everything marked fifty percent below retail value!' In accordance with the current price displayed, such a virtuous offer placed her intended acquisition within easy financial reach, and it was with the tactful grace only a woman possesses that she had requested the item be held for later, all the while remaining outside the view of her husband.

Having had such a boon present itself so readily, it was with a light heart that the young woman headed towards a local grocery to put her excess funding to good use. Knowing full well that Naruto would return home hungry, Hinata made her way to the soup aisle and gathered several Cup Ramen from the shelves. Delving through her mental checklist, several healthy fruits and vegetables soon found their way into her arms as well. The cashier rang up her purchases, and the young woman's heart skipped a beat at just how much the price of food had risen during this lean part of the year. Even with the excess money, such an exchange would reduce her funds to a scant few dollars above the cost of the display case...

Several agonizing moments passed, and a casual tug at a loose strand of hair was all the worry she allowed herself to express. The groceries were promptly paid for and handed back to her, an effective counterbalance to the sudden void in her purse. A frosted sigh escaped her lips as she returned to the snow-packed streets.

Deciding it best to head back and pick up the item lying in wait, Hinata passed by a familiar house-turned-business that prompted a sense of unease she was not soon likely to forget. 'Eastern Styles Salon and Boutique' decorated a sign swinging freely on a post, its red and yellow letters demanding the attention of anyone who passed it by. The small shop sat at the end of a recessed stone walkway, its mistress' name engraved in reflective gold-leaf text upon a mailbox off to the side.


Again, the young woman gave her hair a nervous tug, reminiscing about the brief conversation she and her childhood friend had had during their last tremulous encounter.


”Honestly Hinata, I don't know how you do it. Not a single split end.”

A flash of scissors whisked through the air, removing another quarter inch of midnight-blue locks. Hinata smiled to herself as she recalled the source of such a blessing.

“I'm just so glad I found those old scrapbook photos of mother a few years ago. To actually have my hair the same length and style, it just makes me feel...closer to her, I guess.”

Tenten nodded somberly, her twin hair buns bouncing in tandem with a pair of busy hands. Several moments passed as the two women enjoyed the peace of a sunlit afternoon.

“ know I wouldn't suggest something I didn't believe in, right?”

The young woman blinked at the unforeseen question as she glanced towards her friend in the mirror.

“What do you mean, Tenten?”

The brunette in question lowered her head, her voice set in a whisper.

“Do you see the girl behind us to the right? The one that just came in? Try not to stare.”

Confused as to the reasoning behind Tenten's sudden shift in temperament, Hinata did as she was asked, glancing once more into the mirror. Her eyes widened considerably at the forthcoming reflection.

A young woman, hardly as old as they were themselves, was being helped out of a dark brown wig by another attendant. To say the level of disfigurement beneath the hairpiece rivaled that of a torture victim would have been an understatement.

“I asked you not to stare, Hinata.”

Startled by the voice so close to her ear, the young woman averted her gaze before she could be caught peeking. Tenten resumed her work while Hinata tried to find the words for the many questions racing through her mind.

“What...what happened to-”

“She's not the only one, you know. Plenty of women come in here every day with problems just like that, sometimes even worse. Don't think for a minute that just because cosmetics and make-up can hide our scars that they aren't always there to torment the people who live with them.”

Hinata remained silent during the poignant dialogue, knowing all too well the ring of truth those words surely held. Still, she didn't understand what any of this had to do with her.

“But...why are you telling me this?”

After a few moments, the brown-eyed figure set down her styling tools and locked eyes with Hinata's reflection.

“Though we're trained as ninja, kunoichi are still human, and above all we're still women. You have no idea how many girls walk through my door that have lost the chance to lead a normal life. I just think its a small thing to ask that we try to help those who've given so much for us.”

“Well yes, but what does that-”

“She needs a new wig, Hinata, her and so many other women, kunoichi and civilians alike. There just aren't enough materials to make synthetic hair at the rate we need it.”

The pale-eyed woman raised an inquisitive eyebrow, then gasped softly as her friend undid a clasp below each hair bun, revealing them to be nothing more than stuffed pieces of fabric. Hinata regarded the fellow kunoichi with a look of shock.

“What have you...but your hair, why did...”

A movement off to the side once more caught her interest, and she shifted her attention back to the mirror. The young woman from before was on her way out, readjusting her wig in a timid fashion; a beautiful brunette wig, in fact...the precise length and shade as...

Tenten gave a sad smile at the look of comprehension slowly dawning upon her friend's features. She leaned in close, quite effectively sending a stark chill down the spine of the figure sitting before her.

“Your hair would grow back too, Hinata...hers never will. Naruto is a good man, but we both know the Academy pays next to nothing. You have a unique shade, something many women would love to try for themselves. I can give you a very good price for-”

“How can you even ask me to consider this!?”

“It would be for a good cause. I thought you-”

“Absolutely not!”

“How can you say that without at least thinking it through? No one would think any less of-”

Its all I have left to remember her by!

For several long moments, both figures remained in perfect contemplative silence. The pale-eyed woman kept a white knuckled grip on her midnight-blue locks as she tried to quell the fierce beating of her heart. Turning her gaze off to the side, Tenten had just begun to open her mouth as Hinata stormed to her feet, making a beeline for the door.

“Hinata, wait, at least give it some thought. I would personally make sure to-”

Goodbye, Tenten.”


And that had been it. Nearly three weeks ago, and Hinata had not once set foot inside that place again. A noble sentiment, but not something she could do; what would her mother think? Selling her hair for a wasn't an option, nor would it even be considered. Tenten had asked far too much.

A deep flush began to fill in her cheeks, and the young woman turned about briskly so as to continue on her way. Deciding it best to occupy her mind with much more important matters, the pale-eyed newlywed took up a renewed pace towards the store that held the perfect gift for her husband.

As the sun passed its zenith, so did the young woman come within sight of her destination. Along with an air of blissful contentment came the keen awareness that the large clearance sign from the shop's exterior decor had become noticeably absent. Untroubled by the irregular nuances of a poor sales manager, Hinata entered the tiny shop and headed straight for the counter. A young man of whom she vaguely recognized as one of Konohamaru's friends greeted her from behind a pair of thin-rimmed glasses.

Udon rubbed a sleeve across his nose before addressing her politely.

“Good afternoon, ma'am. -sniff- How may I help you?”

The young woman smiled as she pulled out her purse.

“I was here this morning with my husband, and I requested a small weapon's display be put aside for me. I'd like to purchase it now if that would be alright.”

He sniffled again before nodding.

“Just a minute, Miss. I'll go check.”

A short time passed before Hinata was presented with an intricate wooden display, its chiseled crystal enclosure brandishing a delicate leaf insignia set at the base of the glass. She had been told the wood had been crafted by the First Hokage himself; a fitting tribute to honor an artifact wielded by the Fourth several generations later.

“If you don't need anything else, I'll ring this up for you right away. -sniffle- Would you care to have me gift wrap it for you?”

“Umm, no, thank you. I'll take care of that when I get home.”

The young woman proceeded to fiddle with the remainder of her money, setting it upon the counter as she offered a silent thankful prayer that there had been enough left over for those much needed groceries. As she looked back to the cash register, a sharp gasp escaped her throat upon viewing the newfound information.

“But this...this can't be was on sale for less than half that just this morning! The young woman who put it aside for me said the price was almost a third of this!”

Udon's eyes widened a bit at such a proclamation, his perpetually sleepy expression fading for just a moment.

“Umm, if you mean Moegi, then you must have been here very early. She probably thought you would come back and purchase it while it was still her shift.”

An uncomfortable silence passed between the two; Udon took the time to wipe his nose again while Hinata tried to cope with such a devastating slant to an otherwise perfect day.

“I'm sorry ma'am, but the sale you're talking about...that was only good until noon.”

A crestfallen expression dominated the young woman's features, sending her spiraling downward into a sea of misery and shame.

“But I...I can't afford this. Didn't she leave a note or some sort of reminder that it was set aside when the price was reduced?”

“No ma'am, not a thing. I, umm...I'm very sorry Miss, this is obviously our fault. She really should have told you before you left. I promise to talk to her tomorrow to make sure it doesn't happen again. If you'd like, maybe I can hold it for you until after Christmas, and then you could speak with our store manager Ebisu and maybe he could-”

“N-no, that...that won't be necessary. I just...thank you, I'm sorry. I should have been more observant...”

Quickly gathering up her things, Hinata wandered off in a hollow daze, much to the dismay of the helpless young man unable to make things right again. She passed back onto the street, using the corner of the building for support as she tried valiantly to fend off an uprising of tears.

What do I do now? There's no time left to go shopping again; I can't go home empty handed. I don't have nearly enough money to buy something new...

The young woman gave her hair a nervous tug, racking her brain for ideas to alleviate the pain she felt so acutely in her heart.

What do I do now...

Another swift tug strained against the midnight-blue locks, and she stopped, bowing her head so as to stare at the plentiful resource resting in the palm of her hand.

She had a unique shade...something many women would love to try for themselves...

Abruptly, an image of her mother flashed before her eyes, a scene of long flowing hair dancing in the wind as if alive. It was her favorite memory, something that she had held close to her heart ever since she was a child. That image had been her one bond to a woman she had hardly known, a link to a life she had longed for during most of her adolescence and many years thereafter.

As if to counterbalance the past, Naruto's smiling face shined brightly a moment later, cheeks stuffed full with ramen all culminating in a wide grin reserved just for her. He was her future now, as she was his. The desire for a mother would soon be overshadowed with the reality that she would become one herself; a new life that would look up to her in much the same way she had eternally looked up to the woman now sleeping in her thoughts and dreams.

Hinata swallowed hard, teetering between a love for her past and a love for her future. Could her mother forgive her for such a thing? Could she forgive herself for not going through with it? What would Naruto think? Would he be angry with her decision? And if so, which one? Either? Neither?

The fact that she had been willing to sacrifice the entirety of her savings for him...her expectations of the look of happiness set upon his perpetual child-like features...Minato-sama's kunai represented a world of pain and lose she could scarcely imagine, and to now deny Naruto something she knew would add to the memory of his father in ways that only he could truly understand and appreciate...

What was but a single prideful vanity compared to a happiness that would surely spill over unto her a thousand-fold?

Eyes misty with her decision, Hinata delicately tossed her hair back over a shoulder as she once again headed towards a friend she had not visited in weeks. A delicate smile washed across her face as she prayed her sacrifice would be looked upon kindly by the one person more important to her than the blond-haired man with whom she shared so much.

Mother...forgive me.

And the tears began to flow...


Some time later, Naruto returned home with a bundle under his arm; Hinata was already preparing dinner for the both of them. He decided to start a fire upon noticing she had inexplicably decided to cover her head with a warm shawl. For one reason or another, few words passed between the two as each enjoyed a sparse meal at the dinner table. After their supper had ended, each took a seat opposite the other by the fireplace. The young man noted his wife's attentive gaze scouring the floorboards as they absorbed the heat from the roaring flames beside them.

“Hina...aren't you hot with that thing on?”

At his question, the young woman flushed deeply as she suddenly looked up, deflecting his sudden inquiry with a grin.

“I've been a bit chilly all day, and its been so long since I've worn this. I just don't want to catch a cold, thats all.”

Hinata promptly leaned over and grabbed his present, making sure to keep a firm grip on the covering atop her head. A nervous expression washed across her features as she hesitantly placed the small gift on his lap.

“Here, I...its something I found that I think you'll really like. Go ahead and open it, Naruto.”

The blond man blinked at the package, taking it into his grasp. A sheet of parchment rested beneath a strand of ribbon fashioned into a bow, its calligraphic letters flowing smoothly from a steady hand.

To Naruto,

With all my heart.


Naruto smiled broadly, hardly aware of the extra heat caressing his cheeks. With child-like zeal, he tore into the wrapping for all he was worth. A moment later, the young man's jaw went slack as he peered at the marvelous wood and glass display case resting upon his fingertips. Much to Hinata's dismay, the look of exuberance she had expected to see was instead replaced by an ashen gray expression bordering on horror.

Confusion mixed with embarrassment began to play off one another as she regarded her husband in a distraught manner.

“Naruto, I...I'm sorry, I just...I thought you'd like it and...I can return it in the morning if you-”

Naruto's head shot up in an instant.

“What? No! Thats not...t-thats not it, Hinata. I'm so sorry, its beautiful. Thank you.”

At that statement, the young man promptly stood up and moved to his wife. Before she could stop him, a gentle hand wrapped around her shoulders as he knelt down and pulled her into a hug. It took him but a few moments to realize there was a distinct lack of hair beneath the shawl covering the length of her back. A look of panic engulfed his betrothed, causing her to pull away.

“Hina, what...what happened to your hair...?”

Hinata silently opened and closed her mouth, beckoning for some excuse to come to mind. Fearing this moment more than any other, a look of sorrow gradually overcame her features as his brow knotted together in worry. She eventually conceded defeat, reaching up to undo the makeshift covering she had so hastily gathered together earlier.

As the shawl fell to the ground, her husband took on an unreadable expression. After some time, he reached out towards her, gliding a single finger through her short-cropped hair as tenderly as possible.

“ loved your hair so much...I don't understand...”

She closed her eyes in peace, pressing her cheek into the palm of the hand that had accepted her choice, hadn't rejected her, that still loved and cared for the woman who had chosen to maim her own image...

“I...I couldn't afford the case on my own. I thought I could, but something came up and I didn't have enough money, so...”

The young woman let her voice trail off, unsure what else to say. As she looked up once more, Naruto was half-smiling, half-frowning as tears began to gather in his eyes. Without a word, he reached over and gathered up his own bundle, lightly placing it into her hands. Upon the top rested a small card positioned off center, its bold letters written in short, deliberate strokes.

To Hinata,

With all my love.


An honest, sad smile was all she needed to see before taking the time to peel back the wrappings. A shocked gasp escaped her lips as his gift finally revealed itself. The same gorgeous haircare beauty set she had seen earlier in the day now adorned her lap, eliciting tears from both parties as she gazed upon the elegant and expensive gift.

“Oh, Naruto I...but how could...I saw the price, there's no way we can afford this...”

The young man had already lowered his head, a thin stream of tears winding down both cheeks as he began to laugh softly. The girth of the fire had grown considerably larger in their time by its side, draping the room in a soft blanket of heat and light. The peculiar absence of a certain reflection alerted her to its lack of presence, drawing a curious eye to the empty spot on their mantle where once a valuable artifact had come to rest.

“Naruto! The kunai, its-”

“Gone, I know.”

“You know? Then where did-”

“I sold it.”

Her entire world came to a crashing halt at the lackluster answer issued in such a calm, care-free manner.


Again, the young man began to laugh softly, this time glancing upward with tear-stained cheeks, grinning in the most loving fashion at the woman he had decided to spend the rest of his life with.

“I sold I could buy your gift.”

For the longest time, Hinata simply sat there, dumbstruck at the words that just didn't seem to register. A hand rose to her hair; she glanced towards the display case. Her gaze shifted to the mantle as she placed her beautiful gift off to the side.

All the while, Naruto simply remained in front of her, still kneeling, still grinning, tears silently rolling down his cheeks and onto the floor.

Slowly, ever so slowly, Hinata's features crinkled against the sweet ache overwhelming her, and she rushed forward to catch her husband in a fierce hug. Gentle sobs began to rack her petite frame, and he consoled her as she, in turn, consoled him.

Through their sacrifice, each had given up something precious only to receive something precious in return. Wealth does not guarantee happiness, nor does poverty ensure grief. The greatest gift of all can be found and shared between any two people, as long as each is willing to give everything for the sake of the other.

From loss comes gain, and by the lessons we learn it becomes apparent that the things which matter most cannot be measured by science, but rather by the heart. Hardships and heartache are simply a catalyst such that we may realize what truly matters when everything else is stripped away, when all we ever knew no longer applies and are left with nothing else but the greatest gift of all.


Like I said before, one of my favorite short stories of all time. The original is called 'The Gift of the Magi' by O. Henry. I'm also happy to say I didn't search for that bit of information until I had already finished my story, and I must admit, it is a different read entirely. I very much advise looking it up, if nothing more than to read a classic.

I hope you liked my story! For those in the know, the final chapter of 'Just Another Day' is now long overdue for updating, so I'll see what I can do about that in the days/weeks/months/years to come.

Now go read O. Henry's version and see what a real classic looks like. Good reading to you!

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