Title: Silken Flowers
Pairing: Hyuuga Neji x Hyuuga Hinata
Theme: #19 - Red
Disclaimer: Naruto is not mine
Passing by the shop window again, her footsteps slowed to a stop, the soft sway of her arms ceasing as the girl halted in front of the flat pane of glass. Taking a step closer, she shifted her parcels to one hand, the bagged groceries swinging slightly with her movements. Raising her other hand, she pressed it flat against the glass as her lips turned up slightly in a whistful smile.
It was still there. 'It' being the kimono she had seen in the shop's window two weeks ago when she'd been returning from her mission. That particular store restocked it's wares once monthly, and despite the fact that she'd never been what one might call 'girly', not like Ino or Sakura or any of the other kunoichi in the village who -- when they weren't on missions -- spent spare time indulging their feminine sides with new clothes or makeup or other sorts of frivolity, she still liked to look. Hinata wasn't like that, and not because she thought such things silly. She had simply never been free the way they had. Never been truly able to simply relax and feel comfortable with herself in the way that most carefree teen girls did. But even in spite of that, she had an eye for nice things.
That particular shop happened to be near enough to the path she tended to take from the village gate that it wasn't too much out of the way to stop by there on that particular day each month. She would stop by the window and watch as the new stock was unloaded and carefully opened and inspected before each item was lovingly folded and set on the shelf or on display, for whichever lucky woman patron would purchase them. And two weeks ago, on her normal stop by the store to watch, she'd stood there in shock as that particular item was placed on the mannequin in the window.
It was, to put it lightly, breathtaking.
Even without feeling the soft material draped over the wood of the dressform, her experienced eye could discern the quality of the silk, the fine stitching -- by hand, no doubt -- that marked this particular kimono as a cut above the rest. But beyond the quality of the fabric or the fine neatness of the stitching, it was the colour that struck her. A deep, brilliant scarlet shade of red, scattered with small blossoms in shades of rose pink and smooth ivory, the black and ivory patterned obi only serving to accent the already startling radiance of the kimono's colour. It stood out among the other pink and lavender and blue shades the way the moon stands out among the stars.
She had never seen a kimono that colour, despite all the different red yukata and kimono that she saw with regularity every festival. Never on her, however. As beautiful as it was, there was one fact that she had come to grips with long ago. And that was the fact that red was not her colour, and never would be.
That fact was something she knew, and had known since she was a child. Red was a colour for other people. Red was for Ino, who's pale flaxen looks would only serve to emphasize the deep richness of the colours. Or for Sakura, whose ivory skin would match so well with the sakura petals scattered across the sleeves of the kimono and whose hair would be beautifully offset by the black and cream of the obi. Or even for her sensei. For Kurenai-sensei, whose deep crimson eyes and black hair would make her look like some sort of scarlet goddess in something the same shades.
But red wasn't for her. With her alabaster skin, opalescent eyes and deep indigo hair, her very nature contrasted that of the kimono. Red was fire, it was passion, it was courage. All of the things that she herself did not possess. Where others were fierceness, she was gentleness. She was water, and calm, and quiet. Even others noticed it, though their remarks were never thusly framed.
"Hinata-chan, you always look so lovely in blues...... Oh, aren't you so lucky that your complexion suits such pastels? You'll make everyone else envious....... You're lucky that you don't have to wear such bold colours. They'd just wash you out."
Sighing, she shook her head slightly. It was the same as always. Even if she'd been in possession of the money, the funds to purchase such a lovely thing, it would be ill suited to her. Better to let someone else enjoy it, even though she couldn't deny that she would be sad to see the lovely kimono vanish from the window. Shifting her bags back into her hands, Hinata turned and continued on her way, as she had done every day since she'd seen it in the window.
As her slim form vanished down the street, another pair of eyes watched her go before turning to the red kimono for a moment before the figure turned and stepped into the store, reappearing a few moments later, a wrapped package held under one arm.
It wasn't until several days later, upon return from her latest mission, that Hinata had the chance to stop by the shop again on her way home. Her team's mission to Iwagakure had been routine, and rather simple, and beyond that it had given her the chance to do some thinking. Or rather... it had given Ino the chance to do some thinking for her. The Hyuuga heiress wasn't used to being paired up with Shikamaru's team, and neither was she used to the other girl's much more free-spirited and energetic personality. In spite of that, she couldn't help but feel that it had done some good. They'd been shopping -- at Ino's request -- during the small amount of free time they'd had, and the blonde girl had been absolutely adament that there was no such thing as "someone who can't wear red", and indeed had even insisted -- practically demanded -- that the quieter girl purchase the lovely hairpin with the brilliant red enameled poppy on it, in spite of Hinata's nervous assertions that such a thing would look far nicer paired with Ino's cornsilk-hued mane of hair.
But insistent Ino had been, and her attitude had made a positive effect on the other girl, to the point that she'd finally made up her mind to put aside what she'd heard and allow herself the treat in the window. Her steps quickened as she caught sight of the shop's breen-patterned awning in the distance, a happy smile beginning to spread across her face. Only, that happy smile quickly faded away as she drew closer to the window. There was nothing there. No bright spot of scarlet amidst the blues and greens and pastels that normally lined the windows of the shop. Where the magnificent scarlet kimono had been, was now a simpler -- though she couldn't argue it was beautiful -- pale yellow kimono patterned with blue and violet irises, belted with a brilliant orange and green obi. The red kimono was gone.
White eyes fell with a saddened sigh. Of course it would have been too good to be true, now that she'd finally worked up her nerve to buy it. Beyond that, it was a miracle that the beautiful thing had remained unpurchased in the window for so long to begin with. Something that fine... it should have been gone long before. Besides, she mused as she headed home, it would look better on someone else.
It will go to someone better, anyway. Someone who suits it more.
Setting her satchel down as she entered the Soke portion of the compound, she smiled a greeting at the servants and the few Bunke that bowed to her as she entered, though the smile was somewhat forced. It was silly, when one thought about it, silly to be so disappointed over something so trivial as a simple kimono, even if it had been an exceptionally lovely one. Reaching the door to her room, she slid the door open, her free hand tossing a stray lock of indigo-hued hair over her shoulder as she stepped through the doorway.
And stopped, a confused look crossing her face. There, sitting in the center of the small flat table in the middle of her room, was a simple wrapped package, roughly a foot and a half square. The paper was plain, brown and nondescript, tied with simple black twine. Dropping her sandals at the entrance to the room, Hinata padded over to the table, settling down onto her knees and reaching out to pick up the note sitting on top of the parcel. There was no message, simply her name, written in a script she recognized at once.
Smiling slightly, she cradled the card for a moment. It wasn't that unusual -- at least not anymore, not since her father had announced the intended betrothal -- for Neji to leave her presents, usually when she was returning from mission. They were always little trinkets, and she was relatively certain that it had little to do with actual feelings and more to do with the obligation of a fiance to procure gifts for their intended lady. But even then, it was a nice gesture, and it reminded her of the time when they were children, when he had been more open and honest with her. She saw that side now, even a little more since Hiashi's decree -- it was almost as though such a thing gave her cousin the freedom to slip back to the way he'd treated her before -- and it was whimsical thought on her part that let her entertain the notion at times that there was more to it then that, that the gifts were his way of communicating feelings she herself was too shy to admit she held.
Setting the folded card down, Hinata turned her attention again to the parcel on the table. It was soft and pliable, and had the feeling of folded cloth, which left her somewhat puzzled as to what the stoic Jounin could have possibly bought for her this time, but she simply shrugged and tugged loose the string to pull the paper aside. White eyes widened with a shocked gasp as the brown wrapping fell away to reveal scarlet silk, the kimono from the window carefully folded and lovingly packaged and nestled into it's brown paper, the obi tucked between it's folds. With shaking hands, she slid fingertips into the fabric, lifting it up to study up close what she'd only ever been able to peek at through the window.
"You seemed to like it."
Neji's calm voice from the doorway startled her, and she nearly dropped the silk back into the wrapping, her head snapping around to fix wide eyes on him where he stood watching her, an almost amused look on his face as he watched the flush creep up into her cheeks slightly. Unable to speak, she simply nodded before swallowing and finding her voice again.
"N...Neji-niisan, you..... you shouldn't have. It's... it's beautiful, but.... it's so expensive...."
Her stuttering reply was cut off by a simple gesture from Neji, a wave of his hand that easily communicated his wish that she cease her protesting and simply accept the gift. Running a hand through his hair in a rather un-Neji-like gesture, his white eyes shifted away for a moment, as though unable to look her in the face before he pushed off from the doorframe and turned his back to her. Taking a step out of the door, he stopped for another long moment.
"Red suits you, Hinata-sama."
And without another word, he headed back down the hallway, his footsteps echoing softly against the wooden floors. Dropping her eyes back to the puddle of crimson silk on the table, Hinata felt her cheeks warm even further as she gathered the kimono in her arms and hugged it to her chest, closing her eyes to bury her face in the soft coolness of the fabric, relishing the gentle kiss of silk against her skin. Maybe.... there was something else there, afterall.