Now that Naruto saw Hinata again, the memories of his battle against Pain, when she stepped in to help him fight all came rushing back. It had been in the back of his mind, but he hadn't given it sufficient thought. After Pain, so much had happened. He had left with Killerbee for his Kyuubi training, and had fought Tobi, who called himself Madara Uchiha, but was really not. How could he be, after all… Madara was dead. Everyone knew that. Even a dunce like Naruto knew that nobody truly lived forever. Whether it was by age or by violence, or disease, everyone died eventually. As it should be. All one could do was make the most of the limited time they had on Earth. But had he? Naruto had very much ignored every hint Hinata had thrown at him all these years. Was he just a moron? Many people would have agreed with that assessment… Including Sakura, he was sure.
Sakura. She was another person to bring up. What were his feelings toward her? Did he still feel anything toward her? He had become better at treating her less as an object of affection and more as a teammate. But did that actually mean that he didn't love her anymore? He wasn't sure? And for that matter, he and Hinata had become much closer friends in the years since they finished the Academy, and even more so since their first Chunin Exams. She was just as important to him as any of the other villagers were. He valued her as a friend and an ally. But did he see her as anything more than that? His feelings for Sakura had remained static for so long that it was hard to say how he felt about anyone else.
Naruto could feel his face heating up, and he could see Hinata becoming red as well. She hadn't said anything, although she had mouthed his name silently a few times since they met eyes moments before. Naruto wasn't sure what exactly was going through his head at the moment, that was keeping him from doing or saying anything… It was like Hinata's beautiful lavender eyes had hypnotized him… Did he really just think that? It was true. Her eyes were beautiful. She had cut her hair since he saw her last. Now it was barely down to her shoulders, and she seemed to have dispensed of her extremely bulky jacket in favor of looser and more comfortable attire, especially considering the season. Now that he saw her out of her overly covering jacket, she looked like a different person. It was almost hard to recognize her.
"N-Naruto… kun…" Hinata muttered nervously, trembling before the object of her affection.
Those words and her next action, which was to attempt to run, seemed to snap Naruto out of his daze. He moved faster than Hinata would have thought possible, with a grace belied by his strange orange attire, and he grabbed her wrist, stopping her from making flight. He didn't grab her hard, not wanting to hurt her, but it scared her a little bit, and she instantly started struggling to escape his grasp.
"Wait!! Hinata! Please don't leave!" He said… Although he said the words insistently, he wasn't loud, or rude about it, and it was certainly a request, not an order. She knew from the way he said it that she still had the option to leave if she wanted to… She wished, though, that he would either let her leave, or tell her with absolute certainty to stay. That way, she wouldn't have to make such a hard decision for herself. On the one hand, any chance to stay in Naruto's presence was welcome for her. But on the other hand, what did he want so badly to discuss? Now that they finally were meeting face to face again, was he going to reject her confession, tell her that he didn't feel the same way, and say that he already had feelings for Sakura? No. That didn't seem like her Naruto-kun. He was gentle and kind and good. He would never say something so blatantly mean. But then… How would he respond? Curiosity or fear? Which would win out? For a moment, the timid Hyuga wasn't sure… But finally, her arm slackened and she turned back around to face Naruto, nervously looking up to meet him at eye level, though she wasn't sure that she wanted to see what was in those crystal clear blue eyes of his… Those beautiful blue eyes that she loved so much.
Naruto breathed a sigh of relief and released Hinata's wrist, and looked away for a moment, trying to compose his thoughts.
"S-so…" He said nervously. "D-did you… mean what you said?" He asked her, a blush creeping across his features. Hinata gasped at this question. Was that supposed to be a joke? Of course she meant it. Did he expect that she lied to him? N-no… Of course that wasn't it. Hinata thought to herself for a moment. Naruto had been hated by the villagers for years. Of course he was going to be a little bit suspicious when something like this happened… Right? Maybe she was just trying to justify his question, but it made perfect sense… To her, anyhow.
Little did either of them know, right around the corner, Kiba, Shino, Sakura, and Ino were all gathered, watching this scene unfold.
Naruto, you ass! 'Did you mean it'! What kind of stupid question is THAT!? Sakura thought furiously to herself. Her 'Inner Sakura' was pretty docile these days, but when Naruto asked stupid questions like that, her internal rage built up like a motherfucker.
"C'mon, Hinata… Answer his question…" Kiba muttered, half to himself, though he knew that Shino and Sakura could both hear him. Shino simply knelt there silently, lowering his sunglasses slightly so that he could see better in the slowly diminishing light of the Konohagakure sunset. It was a beautiful evening, only a few fluffy clouds in the sky, positively lit afire by the setting sun, outlined in gold, and set in dark hues of purple, gray and black.
"Y-yes… Naruto-kun… I-I meant every word. I-I love you… I've… always loved you…" Hinata finally whispered, taking Naruto's much larger hands in her own. She wanted him to understand just how much she loved him… But petty words couldn't describe such a thing. Not in her eyes. How could she show him how much she loved him? Was she supposed to up and kiss him on the spot? But what if he didn't feel the same way and he started thinking she was a freak or something? What if he started hating her? She didn't want that… She would have rather died than do anything that would make Naruto hate her. But nothing she could say was sufficient.
Slowly, before she could even say anything, before she even realized what she was doing, or could figure out a way to make herself stop, she found her hand reaching toward Naruto's cheek. She touched it gently, and brushed downward, toward his chin. Slowly, ever so slowly, she leaned in toward him. He didn't stop her. Sakura, Kiba, and even Shino, leaned in closer. Sakura looked over at the bug user, and noticed his muscles becoming tense. She couldn't believe that even Shino showed emotion at times. He looked like he was about to have a heart attack. She didn't blame him. His teammate for four years, and one of his best friends who was known for being not only extremely beautiful, but also extraordinarily shy, was about to take the initiative, and kiss the boy she loved.
"Go on, Hinata… Do it… You're almost there…" Kiba whispered, Akamaru behind him, whimpering slightly as his owner tensed further, and his body began to quiver slightly. Sakura sort of wondered if maybe there was something wrong with these two. They were acting like excited girls about to watch their best friend hook up.
Naruto was paralyzed for a moment. His feelings for Hinata-chan… His thoughts on Sakura… Wait… Wasn't it supposed to be the other way around? And yet, somehow, the way he said it seemed perfectly natural. No. It was perfectly natural. Why did it seem that in his long stint away from Konoha, his feelings had changed? What was this heavy thumping in his chest as Hinata's lips drew closer to his own?
Their kiss was rudely interrupted, though, by real fireworks going up in the distance. Hinata gasped, blushed, and fell away from Naruto. She had forgotten that the celebration of the end of the Third Great Ninja War was to be commenced that night at sunset with setting off a massive fireworks show, and that every nation in the world was going to do it at the same time. They were corresponding perfectly, using jutsu to keep in contact and set off the fireworks at once so that no matter where in the sky one looked, they would see naught but lights to celebrate the unity that the ninja world had finally achieved out of the blood, sweat and tears of millions of ninja who had to die to accomplish it.
Naruto had only gotten back that morning, and he had gone out that evening to watch the fireworks with the rest of the village. It seemed strange that he would be there with Hinata only, but not feel disappointed at all. He had been looking forward to gorging himself even more than usual on Ichiraku Ramen, but he wasn't disappointed, or sad at all. He was right where he was supposed to be… Right where he wanted, and needed to be, and there was nobody with whom he would rather have been celebrating than with Hyuga Hinata. He took her hand, turning slightly pink as he did, and pulled her close to him, kissing her forehead gently, and holding her in an embrace as he watched the fireworks lighting up in the sky one after another.
"N-Naruto-kun…" Hinata whispered. "D-does this mean…?"
"Sshh…" Naruto put a finger to Hinata's lips and kissed them. "Saying anything will ruin it…" He said… Surprising even himself with how sure he was of his words. Hinata turned bright pink at this, and although it was pitch black, Kiba was sure that he saw steam coming off of Hinata's head.
"R-r-ruin what… N-N-Naruto-kun?" She pleaded.
"The perfect moment…" Naruto whispered. Hinata noticed in this moment, in the dim, and sporadic light cast by the fireworks on the ground below that sent nearly sparkling shadows across the entire earth, that tears were flowing down Naruto's cheeks. What could Hinata say to this? She merely pulled him closer to her, and kissed him on the lips.
"I-it's the perfect moment for me, too… Naruto-kun…" She whispered, smiling at him, hardly able to contain her own tears of joy.
A/N: Hey, 'sup, happy readers!? I was considering making a lemon out of this one, since I've never written a serious Naruto fanfic before. However, it was just so damn cute on its own that I felt a lemon would ruin it. Say what you like, but I regret nothing. The fluffy goodness induced from this could outshine the hottest lemon that I could possibly add in, thank you very much. Also, you can freely express your opinions… However, I'm not continuing this story. It was an experiment for me, and it led to a pretty damn good oneshot. If you like NaruHina fluff, then yay!! If not… Sorry you wasted your time…