It was during the war, that Neji noticed that his feelings for his female teammate were probably deeper as always asumed. Not because he finally recognized that Tenten was beautiful, like it went in many romantic novels,( he knew for years that she was indeed beautiful), but this wasn´t the reason for these sudden change in feelings. The true reason was that he realized, when he fought with her side by side on the battlefield, how strong she was. Not only physical but mentally too.

It still surprised Neji himself sometimes, that of all he fall in love with her, when they fought on the edge of life and death. But here he was, completely falling for the brown haired girl, who developed herself in the meantime into a pretty, strong and caring woman. He wasn´t sure whether Tenten already noticed his (slowly obvious becoming) feelings, but she too, seemed to be more happy whenever he was around. She was smiling, joking and relaxing in his presence and for him it was a good sign, because Neji was determined to confess to her sooner or later, although he would rather do it sooner.

After all, already two years passed since the fourth shinobi war. Until now he could never bring himself to tell Tenten about his feelings but in the meantime, Neji was twenty years old. The scars which the war left, were slowly fading and he was ready to look forward into the future. A future he wanted to share with Tenten.

Nevertheless, it should be a special day when he would confess to her. So Neji spent the last weeks only with pondering how he could tell her in the best possible way. Tenten wasn´t the cliche girl, who you could treat into a expensive restaurant and buy some flowers afterwards. No, Tenten was special and so the moment had to be special.

While he pondered desperately to find the perfect event, worthy for his heartlady, someone called out for him. Well, to be honest, Neji recognized these voice at once. The question was only, what wanted his little cousin from him now. Hanabi could be really a nuisance when she wanted and he wasn´t in the mood to deal with her right now.

Neji was sitting on the porch of his house, when Hanabi hurried towards him.

"What is it Hanabi?" He asked when she stood before him.

"Neji Nisan. Father is summoning you immediately."

"For what reason?" It was supposed to be his day off after all.

"There is a meeting and your attendance is wanted."

He raised his dark eyebrows questioningly. "A meeting all of the sudden? What about?" Normally clan meetings were announced days before in order to make sure that everyone would be present.

"Father mentioned something about big sister. It has probably something to do with her." The girl answered while shrugging her shoulders.

"Alright then." He stood up and followed his younger cousin towards the main building.

When these meeting was about Hinata than it made sense that his attendance was wished. He was still after all her personal bodyguard. During the war, it had been one of his main tasks to protect Hinata´s life. Many things changed after the war. HInata proved her worth to be the successor of the Hyuuga Clan and Hiashi overthought his decison to pass this role towards Hanabi. Neji knew that Hinata´s skills were incredible, (he had always believed in her), but now everyone in the clan was well aware of it. Her only weakness was still, her kindness.

It was just a fifteen minute way, but it was comfortable nevertheless. Hanabi talked about some missions she completed lately, (She was a chunin since some month), and Neji listened silently. Unlike her sister, Hanabi was a cheerfull and cheeky girl. The discipline she went through as a little child, never bothered her as much as Hinata. Neji really loved his both cousins, they were like two younger sisters, but he was closer and more proud of Hinata. Because he knew about all her struggles when she was younger. He was proud that he helped her to come that far.

It was a nice summer day. The sun was shining and the birds chattered cheerfully. For some reason this let him think about Tenten again. He wondered what birds chatter and sunshine had to do with her, but he caught himself thinking about her all the time. Maybe it was really time to tell her how he felt. Neji just saw her yesterday and he was already longing for her, (even if he would never admit it openly.)

Finally, they reached the compound. Hanabi bid her goodbye, because her presence wasn´t desired and Neji headed towards the meeting room. After entering, he noticed that just Hiashi and his grandfather were present. This was strange, but he didn´t show his confusion and bowed his head respectfull.

"You wanted to see me."

"That is correct. Sit down, we´ve some important news for you." Hiashi said and somehow, he seemed to be in a very good mood.

Neji did as he was told and waited for the older men to speak up.

"As you know, I´ve recant my decision to pass the title as the clan head towards Hanabi." Hiashi spoke up and smiled. His smile reminded Neji on his father,(no wonder they had been twins after all.) "Hinata proved herself to be worthy of her birhright and I´ll gladly pass my role towards her when the time comes."

The Hyuuga genius allowed himself a satisfied smirk, after hearing those news. He was happy for his cousin. Hinata finally got the acknowledgement she deserved.

"However, there are some issues which need to be solved before we can declare Hinata as the successor again." His grandfather spoke, voice sharp and emotionsless.

Neji always despised that man. He was responsible for his father´s death years ago. Nobody could forget something like that, (even if his view of his clan changed very much after meeting Naruto), he would never forgive his grandfather.

"Hinata´s skills improved without question very much. But unfortunately you can´t say the same about her personality. She is still too kind and didn´t possess the needed character traits for a leader. However..." The old man sighed, before he looked up and continued his speech. "Hiashi consists that Hinata will be his rightful successor and so do many inside the clan. There is only one way, which allowed her to become a capable clan head..."

He raised his eyebrows, not really understanding the problem.

"However, if she would marry someone, who possess the character traits she didn´t, it wouldn´t be a problem for her to take over Hiashi´s role someday."

"Get married..." Neji said (more to himself). The thought that innocent and sweet Hinata should marry someone only because, the clan wasn´t seeing her fit for the role as the clan head? He was sure Hinata wouldn´t be happy about that. Even if it wasn´t a big surprise after all. Members of the main family weren´t allowed to marry outside the clan. They were always marry someone from the branch family, in order to keep the bloodline pure.

For the branch family it was easier. They weren´t supposed to have a stronger kekkei genkkei as the main family, and so it wasn´t a rarity that they married outsiders. In a matter of fact, it was even welcome by the elders. The blood of outsiders kept the blood of the brain family clear, so that no inbreeding could emergence, whenever one of the main family was allied to a branch member.

(Little changed after the war inside the Hyuuga clan. The main family was still in absolute control over the branch members. Children got still branded with the curse mark and they still couldn´t decide about their lifes freely.) Neji´s destiny was still to protect Hinata but he had made his peace with it. She wasn´t a bad person and he knew, that if she would really become clan head, Hinata would change some things inside the clan. (For him, her kindness wasn´t a weakness but her biggest strength.)

Neji was fine now with his life. His life belonged the clan but there was at least one decision he could make freely and this was Tenten. He fall in love with her on his own. Confess to her was his own choice and if she accepted, than he would even marry her. She would be his own choice and the bliss of his life.

This was probably the first time, he found himself lucky that he didn´t belonged to the main family. Otherwise a future with Tenten would be impossible. Nevertheless, he did feel very sorry for his cousin. Maybe he could at least convince them to wait some years longer. Hinata was still pretty young after all.

"You shouldn´t rush such decision." He said carefully. "This must not be decided yet. Lady Hinata is very young..."

"She is old enough." The grandfather interrupted. "Your own parents weren´t much older when they got betrothed with eachother."

It angered him very much that of all this man mentioned his parents, but his expression stayed neutral. It was true, that his own parents had been barely twenty two when he was born. But times changed, (well apparently not inside the Hyuuga clan), anyway Hinata was different and he could hardly believe that Hiashi would push his daughter into a marriage with someone she would dislike. Especial when she was so young.

As if Hiashi could read his mind, he began to speak. "You may think, that Hinata´s sensitive personality could make it difficult for her to enter an arranged marriage. And I agree until to a certain point..."

"Out of consideration for her, we thought it would the best to look for someone she is familiar with."

"Some one she trusts and who has the ability to guide her and promote her strengthen."

"And correct her weaknesses." The elder Hyuuga added.

"There is only one who is fit to marriage into the main family..."

Suddenly, he had a horrible premonition. This could not be, could it? "Who?"

"Of course you Neji." Hiashi said proudly. "You´re the reason Hinata changed so much. You´re the one, who brought her so far."

The grandfather nodded in agreement. "And of course your own abilitys are a reason for these choice too. It had always been a waste that you were born into the branch family. Your skills are far too valuable for the Hyuuga clan."

"Thats and the fact that you will support Hinata greatly."

"It´s a great honor for you..."

Neji didn´t even bother to listen any longer. His felt suddenly dizzy and he had the feeling as if he lost the ground under his feet. Maybe he was dreaming? But when he pushed his nails into his palms, he could clearly feel the pain. You weren´t supposed to feel pain during your dreams!

He needed to think. He couldn´t just reject a request from Hiashi and his grandfather. There had to be a very good reason. He needed to think about a solution. Everything had been fine until he was called to this stupid meeting. Now, he found himself in a nightmare. (It was a sad fact, that no matter if he had made his peace with the main family, that his life belonged to them.)

"I.. I need to think about this..." Neji replied as calm he could.

"There isn´t anything to think about. It´s already decided."

"I asume, Neji meant he needed to progress the news." Hiashi said and smiled in Neji´s direction. "You may take your leave. I´ll speak with Hinata later about it."

Without hesitation, Neji stood up. He quickly bowed his head, before leaving the room with fast, but wobbly steps. He hurried out of the Hyuuga complex, he needed to clear his mind.

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