Fourth and final chapter. I hope it turns out okay. Thanks to those of you who clicked and enjoyed the read.
After Naruto had explained what decorating the tree was about, and demonstrated with a few bulbs, the rest of the villagers began to help out; hanging bulbs, stringing garland, hanging the handmade ornaments, and helping each other string up Christmas lights around the tree.
They had to bring out ladders to decorate the higher parts, and used a power generator to power the Christmas lights around the tree. Naruto helped others decorate their homes with lights as well. It seemed like everyone was having fun with the decorating, which made Naruto feel glad.
The decorating lasted for a good two hours. The sun was beginning to disappear over the tree line.
Naruto watched contently as the children and parents decorated the tree, the kids playing with the garland, and the laughter of the men as they hung decorations. This was what Christmas was about. It made him feel good. He spotted Asuka and his wife decorating their home- with the help of a few younger men- with large multi-colored bulbs. Asuka spotted him and waved, and Naruto waved back.
He spotted Lee and Hinata across the way. Hinata was talking with an older woman, probably engaged in some girl talk. To be fair, Naruto couldn't hear what they were saying. But Hinata was smiling, and that made him happy.
Lee was trying to show off to the villagers with his tree decorating skills. He would take a bulb, jump up as high as he could, and quickly catch the hook onto a branch before descending to the earth. The kids kept pestering him to do it again and again, which Lee couldn't help but agree to.
Naruto watched for a moment, and then waited until each of them saw him respectively before ushering them over. They came, first Lee then Hinata.
"What's up, Naruto?" Asked Lee.
"I…well…I just wanted to say sorry for keeping you guys here for so long. You can go home now if you want." He said. It was true, he still felt guilty for keeping them away from their families on Christmas, no matter what they had said earlier.
Lee and Hinata exchanged looks before smiling. Hinata turned to Naruto, blushing slightly. "Naruto-kun, I am here because I want to be." She said softly.
"Same for me, Naruto. I still want to help." Replied the green shinobi.
"But what about your families? Are you 100% sure you don't want to spend Christmas Eve night with them?" He asked.
"Naruto," Spoke Lee. He placed a hand firmly on Naruto's shoulder, locking eyes with the blond. "I told you earlier that I would stay and help. They will understand. Of course I want to spend Christmas with them, but Christmas is about going out of your way to help others, not because you have to, but because you can. I want to help you. Hinata-san feels the same way."
Naruto glanced over to her. She nodded, smiling.
"You guys sure?" He asked.
Again, they both nodded.
Naruto felt a warm feeling in his chest, and he had to force himself not to cry. "You guys don't know what this means to me. Seriously, thanks."
Another hour passed by, and the villagers were still at work decorating, and sharing their fresh Christmas treats. Hinata had already met up with Hideo and explained what had happened. At first, he seemed like he had been knocked off of his feet, but he quickly regained himself and accepted her apology. She had promised him even higher quality sheets, and he thanked her.
The sun was out of sight, and now the village was being illuminated by bright Christmas tree. The tree lights had been layered around the tree, all the way to the top. The large silver star had been placed on top by none other than Asuka. With Naruto's help and a ladder, he was able to make it up there with ease.
Afterwards, Naruto had talked with Asuka about a few other Christmas traditions that he hadn't been able to get to this year, and Askua grinned.
"You've done more than enough this year, Naruto." He said. "And besides," He added, winking. "There's always next year."
Naruto beamed his stupid grin and agreed. He said he would definitely come back early next year to help out, and Asuka told him he appreciated it.
Naruto took a walk around the village, and found Lee performing the Christmas songs again. This time, he and a few other people were caroling, singing for the other villagers that gathered to watch. Naruto recognized the song as Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer. A villager or two would join in the singing at random.
Naruto chuckled lightly. "Glad to see that I can actually do some good." He muttered.
"What do you mean by that?" Came a soft voice from behind him.
Naruto nearly jumped out of his boots, he was surprised too much. Hinata had pretty much gotten the drop on him. He kept his cool and replied. "Well, I usually tend to mess things up, if you hadn't noticed."
She blushed again for some reason, and smiled. "No, I hadn't noticed."
Was she trying to be sarcastic, or was she serious. "Seriously?" He asked.
She nodded. "S-seriously."
"Wow, I wasn't expecting that." He said. So she didn't see him as a failure? That was a bit of refreshingly good news. He couldn't help but smile. "You know, I'm also glad that I finally have people to celebrate Christmas with."
Hinata frowned. "I'm sorry." She said.
"Why are you apologizing? It's not like it was your fault."
"I'm sorry." She repeated, averting her gaze to the snow.
Naruto couldn't help it, and let out a brief laugh. "Don't worry about it, Hinata. Seriously." He paused, looking over the village again. He sighed. "I just wish I could have done more for them."
"Consider your Christmas wish granted." Came a familiar woman's voice from behind the two of them.
Naruto and Hinata spun around in surprise, and both gasped in unison.
Standing before them was Tsunade, Kakashi, Neji, Tenten, Gai, Shikamaru and his family, Sakura and her mom, Shizune, Ino and her family, Shino and his, Iruka, Choji (who was dressed as Santa Claus), a lot of other Konoha residents that Naruto didn't really know too well, and most surprisingly of all, Kiba with his family.
"What…What's going on?" Asked Naruto, pulling himself from his stupor. He also noticed a lot of the local villagers were curious about the newcomers as well. They were all watching.
Tsunade folded her arms across her chest. "A little doggy told us what you guys were up to."
Naruto knew immediately who she was talking about, but found it hard to believe. He turned to Kiba, who was smirking.
"Kiba?" He asked.
Kiba shrugged, still smirking. "Don't get too sentimental. I thought a lot about what you guys were doing up here, and figured you would need some extra help." His brow cocked as he finished, "I also knew you would do a sub-par job without me."
Naruto smirked back. "In your dreams, dog breath."
"We're all here to help, Naruto." Said Kakashi, holding up a few decorations of his own.
"In any way we can." Added Iruka.
Naruto and Hinata smiled at each other. "Thanks guys." He said.
Choji stepped up and took a deep breath. "Ho ho ho!" He shouted. "Merry Christmas."
One little kid leapt up into the air. "Oh my gosh! Guys, It's Santa!" He yelled.
Choji stepped forward to meet all of the kids that were rushing at him. He laughed heartily, with as much jolly as any one person could.
Sakura stepped up to Naruto. "We brought a lot of Christmas stuff with us. Think we can help?" She asked.
Naruto nodded. "Of course." He turned to Tsunade. "But why would you all come out all this way just to help me? Why aren't all of you back at your homes for the holiday?"
"Isn't it obvious, Naruto?" Asked Tsunade. "We were all touched by what Kiba told us, and felt that we all wanted to be here, doing what you are doing. We wanted to help celebrate Christmas together. Think of this as a Christmas party." She said, producing a bottle of sake from her robe.
Before Naruto could respond, Tsunade took a large step forward, and turned towards the other Konoha villagers. "All right everyone, make sure to give this village the best Christmas ever. Understood?"
Everyone cheered "Hai, Hokage-sama!"
Naruto watched as the Konoha villagers mingled with the locals. Many from Konoha had brought their own Christmas games, loads of treats and snacks, and decorations to add to the tree. Kakashi brought several children's books about Christmas, and Gai and Iruka helped him pass them out.
It had been hours since Konoha had arrived, and already the place looked even more like a winter wonderland, more so than Naruto had even dared to dream. It was a postcard just waiting to be captured on film.
Naruto located Tsunade, and watched her set up a table with many cups lined up. She had large bowl of punch sitting on the table, with Christmas cookies and fudge on the sides. Then he noticed the second bowl of punch, and wondered what that one was for.
As if answering his question, Tsunade looked around suspiciously, then opened up her sake bottle and mixed the punch with sake. Naruto couldn't believe it, and yet it made sense. Tsunade was spiking the punch. She produced a cup, dipped it in, and chugged it all down in one gulp.
Further down the table, Sakura, Shizune, Ino, and many other Konoha women had prepared many Christmas cookies and real food. Turkey, ham, stuffing, sweet potatoes, pork and sauerkraut, and other foods Naruto really didn't recognize.
Choji was still Santa, and was hanging around the kids- or was it the other way around? - while Lee and Konohamaru were dressed as elves and were helping "Santa".
A few Konoha villagers had brought speakers and a CD/karaoke machine and were playing Christmas music throughout the village.
The tree itself looked even more dazzling than it did before. It was brighter, with even more decorations.
Asuka approached Naruto, now wrapped up in a winter coat as the temperature had dropped. He extended his hand for a shake, and Naruto obliged. "I must say, Naruto. I did have my doubts about this whole Christmas thing, but I'm glad we did it. This Christmas thing is really magical after all."
Naruto just smiled and nodded. "No problem." He said.
Later, as it was getting darker, the children were getting tired. The parents began to take them in to their homes to lay them to bed. The parents would later return to the festivities outside. Naruto waited until all of the little kids were inside asleep before he snuck away and gathered the boxes of presents.
He had Kakashi, Gai, Iruka, and Lee help him out with the toys. The clones, thankfully, had marked which toy was for which kid. They got out the wrapping paper Shikamru's family had brought, cleared a table to set the stuff down on, and began wrapping presents. Sakura, Hinata, Ino, and Tenten went around gathering the parents and asking them to go to the table. Naruto and the others would wrap and present, and call out the child's name.
The parent of that child would step forward and receive the gift. At first, they were confused with what to do with it. Kakashi explained that they should place the presents near the fireplace tonight, and then in the morning the kids will wake up and tear the wrapping paper off to reveal their gifts.
"They will then believe that Santa came to visit them." Finished Kakashi. The parent thanked him, and vanished to place the gifts.
After all of the gifts had been wrapped and delivered, Naruto sighed in relief. Kakashi placed a hand on the blonds shoulder. "You did very good, Naruto. I'm proud of you."
Naruto nodded, and then suddenly remembered something. He dug into his own bag and removed a thin, rectangular gift wrapped in red paper. "I almost forgot, Kakashi-sensei. This is the Christmas gift I got for you."
Kakashi seemed surprised, but he thanked Naruto and took it. Naruto told him to go ahead and open it, wanted to catch his sensei's reaction.
Kakashi tore the paper until he could see what it was he was holding. It was an autographed copy of the new Icha Icha movie. Kakashi froze in place, too stunned for words. His one visible eye was as wide as possible. This movie wasn't even set to be released until next year!
Naruto grinned, folding his arms behind his head. "You like it? The princess gave it to me as a thank you or something. I don't really like the series, so I thought you should have it."
Kakashi glanced over at Naruto, still carrying the same expression. "God bless you, Naruto." He said.
Naruto lost it, and started laughing.
A few hours later, the party was still going as strongly as it was earlier. Hinata slid out of a house carrying a cup of warm apple-cider. She walked around until she spotted Naruto sitting on a bench, watching a group of drunken adults dancing to the Yule tide songs. He was smiling and chuckling at the antics.
She came up to him and greeted him, holding out the cup of apple-cider for him. Naruto seemed grateful, and thanked her as he took the cup and sipped on it. She sat in silence with him, watching the adults sing and dance like fools.
Naruto kept sideways glancing over at her. He seemed…a little nervous about something. Hinata wondered what it was. She hoped it was nothing serious.
"Hey," He finally said. "Thanks for helping me out today. I couldn't have done it without you. Or Lee."
Hinata blushed and smiled. "I'm just happy I got to spend Christmas with you, Naruto."
There was an awkward pause between the two. Both of their faces heated as they blushed. Hinata realized immediately what she had said.
"NO! I mean…ano…y-y-you know, Naruto-kun? I'm h-happy I was able to help you out." She stammered quickly.
Naruto, equally embarrassed, averted his gaze to the ground, still blushing. "Yeah….Me too." He muttered.
Then the awkward silence set in, and Hinata feared the worst. Had she ruined the good mood between the two of them? She hadn't meant to, it had just slipped out.
Before she could fret anymore, she noticed Naruto extending a small box wrapped with a bow towards her. She glanced over at him. He still had his gaze towards the ground.
"This is for you….Merry Christmas." He said nervously.
Hinata wasn't really sure what to do, except take the gift. She thanked him and accepted it. She undid the bow gently and lifted the lid.
Inside was a single sheet of paper, rolled up with another bow wrapped around it. Hinata undid the bow, and glanced up to see Naruto was not watching her intently, as if he was trying to gauge her reaction to whatever the gift was.
Hinata glanced back down and undid the bow. She unrolled the paper and noticed it was a letter addressed to her.
As she read it, her eyes began to widen, and tears welled in her eyes. Her hand went to cover her mouth, as she placed the sheet of paper down, she looked over at Naruto, who was still watching. His eyes were asking for an answer.
She couldn't find the words, so she nodded, smiling and trying to hold back the tears.
Naruto smiled joyfully, as if he had just won the lottery.
He leaned in to capture her lips. She closed her eyes and leaned in as well.
A snowball flew through the air and hit the two of them, halting them before they could kiss. Naruto and Hinata quickly looked over to see Konohamaru and his friends, laughing and making kissy faces.
Konohamaru spat his tongue out at Naruto, and the others did the same.
Naruto laughed. "You guys are going to pay for that." He said. He rose to his feet, and took Hinata's hand in his. They both squeezed affectionately.
Naruto and Hinata chased after Konohamaru and his friends, hand in hand, laughing the entire time.
So glad I got this finished before Christmas. There were several other versions on how this story played out, but I have to say I like how this one turned out.
Originally, I had wanted Naruto trying to give this village Christmas, but everything he would try would go horribly wrong, and he kept trying relentlessly, eventually nearly giving up and feeling like a loser. Hinata was going to cheer him up and remind him about the true meaning of Christmas. The end is the same in both versions.
I'll probably incorporate something like that into next year's Christmas story.
Please leave me reviews. I always read them, and reply to most of them. I would love feedback.
Also, if you're new to my stories, look at some of my other works. The one I'm most proud of is Bonds of Time, which has a sequel coming out in January.
So have a very Merry Christmas, and a happy New Year.
Thank you for reading.