There has been a time, at some point in our lives, when we have been sent to see someone of a higher rank than ourselves and we know that that person fully intends to punish us. Whether it be a school principle, boss or even the law it doesn't change the feeling you have and that is dread. Naruto Uzamaki had already cracked. He was hunched over clutching his rolling stomach and waiting for the end, Lady Tsunade's apprentice, Shizune, poked her head around the door and curled a finger towards him. With a deep breath Naruto rose to his feet and stepped into the large round office. Tsunade sat her desk writing; she looked up as he entered. Putting down her pen she smiled and Naruto found himself feeling very nauseous.

'Naruto,' she sighed interlocking her fingers, 'I'm getting tired of this'

'I'm sorry!'

'Let me finish.' She whispered, Naruto could feel her intentions, malicious glee boiled around her mingled with frustration and an untamed fury that almost hurt. He couldn't help it he had to defend himself to her, that black wrath was too much to ignore. He had to explain, to appease her.

'It was just a joke. I-'

'It wasn't a joke!' she roared, slamming her fists on to the desk and causing several thick piles of paper to slide on to the floor with a heavy 'thunks' 'When you tell a seven year old trainee that Iruka sensei is actually a spy and has infiltrated Konoha he will believe you!'

'I didn't think he would, I thought he had more sense than he did!'

'He stabbed him in the leg with a kunai knife!'

'Well I couldn't have foreseen that,' Naruto muttered, 'personally I think that shows initiative.'

A funny grating sound filled the air, Naruto looked up and realized, with horror, that it was her; she was grinding her teeth together.

'I was,' she began slowly, 'beginning to think I could trust you, that you were less reckless. I fact I had planned to put you on an S-rank mission but apparently I should reconsider'

Naruto jumped to his feet, curling his hand into a tight fist and shaking it at her.

'You can't do that, that's ridiculous.'

'I CAN!' she bellowed. Naruto fell back scowling at her. 'But I have a mind to give you another chance. There is a B-ranked mission, it's not particularly dangerous but I'll put you in charge and if you can keep the teams together for its duration you'll go on the S-rank mission.' She smiled and held up a piece of paper. 'The family that requested this is important, they also have powerful ninja of their own,' she paused briefly, 'their family produces exceptional fighters, strategists and politicians but this,' she sighed and wrinkled her nose, 'appears to be a matter of appearance. They want ninja to guard the head of the family, heir to the family and her sister, plus a few other family members on a trip to see some distant relatives. They are all ninja themselves but want extra protection.'

Naruto scoffed, 'If they are all such exceptional ninja they why give them protection?'

'Because,' Tsunade said stiffly, 'The Hyuga's are one of the most prominent families in Konoha and I can't afford to upset them.'

'H-Hyuga?' he sputtered, 'Hinata's family?'

'Yes,' Tsunade continued, 'As I said, you are in charge. You were actually requested. Accompanying you will be Sakura-chan, Kiba Inuzuka and Akamaru, Shino Aburame, Tenten-chan, Ino Yamanaka, Shikamaru Nara, Chouji Akimichi and,' she smirked at this 'Rock Lee.'

Naruto fell to his knees and pressed his hands to his head, 'No,' he moaned 'Please not them.' True at the sound of Sakura's name his heart had begun doing pirouettes in his chest but now the prospect of spending a week with his fellow academy graduates seemed as welcome to him as a day spent acting as a human target for shuriken practice at the school. 'Why isn't Neji going?'

'He is; you're working for him. These are your orders Uzamaki.' Tsunade said barely concealing a grin, 'Try not to screw it up.'

As Naruto approached the head of town he saw everyone waiting for him and scowled. Apparently they had all known but him. Tsunade had planned this in advance. She had known he would never agree to a bodyguard mission so she had used it as a way for him to redeem himself, he couldn't have refused. A covered carriage was beside them, it was drawn by two burly, blue-black oxen which huffed and lowed with impatience.

'Hello Naruto-kun,' said Sakura as he came closer, 'I didn't know you were coming.'

Naruto's stomach flipped as he stared at her lustrous green eyes. He gazed at her for a while until a small embarrassed smile tugged at her lips and she shot a subtle look at the others for help.

'What's going on? Tsunade sensei said she was sending the head of the team down with a brief.'

'Yeahats,' Naruto began then stopped, swallowed the copious amounts of saliva that had accumulated in his mouth and began again, 'Uhhh...Yeah, she put me in charge.' There was silence. The others were looking at each other, Tenten shrugged as Lee looked at her and turned to Shikamaru for some instruction. Their tiny movements grated on Naruto just as their eyes did. He shuffled his feet and looked at the floor. From his right he heard a bark-like laugh.

'Jeez Naruto as if we'd believe that. Now when is the real leader getting here?'

Naruto shot Kiba a filthy look. 'I'm not lying to you, bastard. Sakura you believe me right?'

Sakura half smiled but in a way that told Naruto she didn't believe him in the slightest. He gritted his teeth and stared at the floor.

'I believe him.' A deep calm voice came from behind. They all turned, Neji stood on the carriage steps, 'I'm not saying I agree with the decision but Tsunade chose the teams and told us herself. Naruto's in charge.'

They all turned to stare at an annoyed Naruto before looking back at Neji and breaking into a cacophony of complaints. Some wanted to know why he was leading; others wanted to know why they themselves hadn't been picked to head the mission.

'Quiet!' a second voice sounded from inside the carriage. A hand protruded from between the curtains and parted them allowing the young girl to step out. She was dressed in a deep purple kimono with pale pink orchids embroidered up the sides. He long silky dark hair was pulled back and knotted in the traditional style. Hanabi Hyuga. Hinata's younger sister.

'You all work for us correct?'

'Yes.' They said in unison.

'Then why are you questioning our authority, my sister and I requested Mr. Uzumaki on this mission and despite numerous other suggestions,' she shot Neji a blistering glare out of the corner of her eye, 'we have prevailed.' She smiled at Naruto who had turned a deep shade of maroon as the others looked at him. With huffs and puffs they dispersed except for Neji and Hanabi, Naruto approached the carriage.

'My lady,' he bowed, Hanabi giggled delighted at being addressed this way, 'If I may, why request me?'

'Oh well, Hinata talked so much about you I wanted to see what you could do, she believes in you a huge amount.' The twelve-year-old leaned forward and winked, 'and you're every bit as cute as she said too.'

Naruto felt suddenly as if his lungs had stopped working. 'C-cute?!'

One hour later the shinobi were sat in circle playing word games when Tenten leapt to her feet,

'Hinata-chan.' she cried waving wildly. The others turned.

Walking towards them from the village was a man and a young woman. Hinata Hyuga, heiress and Hiashi Hyuga, head of the family. At first Naruto didn't recognise Hinata and looked past the two approaching to see her, but soon noted the dark hair of the girl and her opalescent eyes almost indiscernible in her pale heart-shaped face, and they identified her. Her Kimono was sky blue with a gold sash; it made her look like a princess.

'H-hello Naruto-kun.' She whispered as she stopped, then blushed deeply and looked at the floor twisting her hands.

Naruto said nothing, all he could think about were Hanabi's words, 'as cute as she said'. Cute, cute, cute! Hinata had said he was cute. Hinata; the girl who barley spoke to him, who looked at him only in passing glances had said that he was cute. Hinata Hyuga who hid from him when she saw him coming thought he was cute. Hiashi stepped toward Naruto and looked him up and down, his own pale eyes lingering for a second on Naruto's hair.

'So you're the one my daughter was so keen to have on this mission. You had better be as good as she says.' Hinata gave a tiny yelp at this, Hiashi paused, 'Hinata get in the carriage. You shouldn't be out here.'

'Yes father.' Hinata whispered, and eyes still downcast she ran to the carriage and climbed in with Neji and Hanabi.

They travelled all day, inching along at a painfully slow pace as the oxen pulled the covered coach down rough roads. Naruto headed the formation while the others surrounded the cart, each set at points perfect for their unique abilities. Not that Naruto was going to admit this but he had asked Shikamaru for help during his planning and it was thanks to him that everything was organised so well.

Only when the sky was too dark to continue did Naruto signal to stop. The oxen driver reined the animals to a halt. After he ordered the others to set up the tents in a circle and build a fire in the centre he approached the carriage and cleared his throat, looking up he found himself nose to nose with Hinata. She gasped and fell backwards, quickly replaced by Hanabi who smiled and winked again.

'We're all set ma'am.'

She chuckled again as he addressed her formally then stepped out of the carriage, taking Naruto's hand as she descended the stairs. There was a rustle and a cough from behind the curtain then Hinata parted the fabric and tentatively took Naruto's hand. She looked him directly in the eyes for second and he found himself lost in a pair of bright orange wells as the light from the fire reflected in them. Unfortunately for Hinata as she was trying very hard not to look at Naruto's blue eyes, trod on the hem of her kimono. As she tried to take another step her dress tripped her and she tumbled down. Luckily for the young heiress Naruto still had hold of her hand and in one movement pulled her towards him. His left arm encircled her waist and he caught her weight on his shoulder. As she wheezed staring past him at the ring of onlookers she couldn't help but feel his body pressed to her, especially the way his arm held her waist so firmly. As Hinata gasped, Naruto's heartbeat quickened, his arm tightened around her middle and he swallowed. His face was pressed to her hair; it was soft on his lips and smelt of jasmine.

Subconsciously he shifted his body so that she was leaning fully on his chest. Stepping back from the carriage, on which Hinata was still stood, Naruto gently pulled her down. As she stepped down from the bottom step she moved her hand to the back of his neck and let it rest there. He moved his head back and looked into her heart-shaped face again studying every arch and hollow until a movement in the corner of his eye made him look away. Hiashi was staring at him, stone faced and Naruto quickly moved back from Hinata, and though still holding her waist and her hand, let her relax away from him. He loathed to part from her. He wanted to remain in her arms, to press her closely to him, the feeling made his insides leap.

'Hinata go over there.' Hiashi said in a dangerous voice. Hinata nodded and moved away but only let go of Naruto's hand at the very last moment. As soon as she was gone Naruto touched the palm that she had held and felt the lingering touch. He watched her retreating back until he became painfully aware of a presence very close to him. Feeling breath hard against his cheek he looked back and found Hiashi almost toe to toe with him and staring him in the face.

'If I ever,' he hissed 'see you touch my daughter in that way again I will kill you.'

'With all due respect sir,' said Naruto 'I was helping her.'

'You were doing nothing of the sort.' He spat then strode past Naruto and towards the fire where the others were assembling. Most were sitting down while Sakura cooked a small stew.

'We're on our way to the land of water aren't we?' Ino asked.

'Yes.' said Neji, 'We have relatives there and some business.'

'What-'Lee began but Tenten elbowed him in the stomach.

Neji chuckled, 'Sorry Lee, I can't say.'

After that nobody spoke, the Hyuga's ate Sakura's plain but pleasant stew and Hanabi began to hum a little tune. The gentle melody floated to where Naruto stood guarding the perimeter and he found himself singing along. He smiled as his eyelids drooped.

It's a funny thing the memory, the smallest thing, if ingrained in your mind at a young age will have power over you for the rest of your life. Right now that lullaby was sending him to sleep. Turning and walking back to the circle of fire light he yawned at Kiba,

'Kiba switch with me.'

Kiba jumped to his feet and walked to the edge of the circle, Akamaru walked beside him and sat calmly by his side, his wet nose sniffing the air. Naruto sat down and listened more closely to the song Hanabi was still singing. Once he had recalled most of it he joined in. His own deep voice purring underneath Hanabi's softer one. The other genin looked at him. Sakura smiled while some of the others threw him sardonic looks and turned away. But Naruto kept going until the end. Hanabi clapped at his effort and leaned against Neji's side. Her cousin seemed to react subconcoiusly, he let his arm slide around her shoulder And pulled her into the warmth of his side. The others watched with not undue interest. Neji wasn't a particularly warm person and to see him show gentleness was uncommon. Some of the girls smiled softly at the sight, Tenten especially. Until Lee, who was gazing wistfully at the pair, ruined the moment. Tears in his eyes he cried,

'Such a wonderful moment of family affection! I, Rock Lee, am truly moved!'

Hanabi leapt away from Neji who had simultaneously withdrawn his arm from her shoulders.

Shikamaru sniggered but wiped his face clean at the filthy look Neji threw him. The crack of the fire and the bitter smell of wood smoke filled their camp. A comfortable silence settled over them as easily and quickly as the night had.

Hiashi finished his tea and looked across the campfire at his children.

'You two,' he said, pointing at his daughters, 'Bed time.'

Hinata leapt to her feet but Hanabi scowled crossing her arms and her legs.


Hiashi looked over the rim of his tea glass. Hanabi quailed and rose to her feet, following her sister into the tent.

There was silence in the circle, Naruto gazed into the fire thinking of Hinata and the soft arches of her tiny waist the way that it curved into her hips and those down her thighs.

'Ramen for your thoughts.' said Sakura, Naruto jumped and looked up into her face, her eyes twinkled as she held out some of the remaining stew. Naruto's stomach gurgled. She giggled, the sound was like a wind chime. Naruto turned pink.

'Ooh was it scandalous?' she asked with a wink.

'No!' he snapped; she raised her eyebrows. Naruto knew he had answered badly and cursed himself.

'You were smiling, that's all.'

Naruto looked up but she had gone back to her soup bowl, his Ramen sitting on the dusty floor between them.

A/N Okay so this was the first fanfic I ever published and I won't ask you to go easy on me. Please tell me your opinions but don't be unessecerily mean as I'm well aware that it is flawed but I decided a long time ago that I don't really mind :)

I published it previously on my deviantart account where it was plainly (but aptly) named NaruHina fanfic. Very original I know XD I'm going to post the rest soon but for now am just uploading this one (there are twenty chapters all together)

For the record this was back when my characterisation was absolutely GOD AWFUL so I apologise for that, other than that I have nothing else to say but please R&R and I hope you enjoy it.