A Night in the Yamanaka Woods
that was the sound she made
as she scurried closer and closer to the boy!' Some of the chūnin in the team began to shudder as Kakashi told them a ghost story. They were camping in the Yamanaka woods for the night, and sat around a fire telling stories to pass the time. It also helped put mission anxiety at rest for a while.
'The poor defenceless boy was filled with terror! No matter how much he tried, he just couldn't move
oh the horror! And within seconds
she was upon him!' Hinata whimpered at this, the young ninjas shifted closer to each other for comfort.
'She took out her sword, and cut him clean in half! He became one of her own
tek-tek-tek!' Kakashi then laughed atmospherically as the team squealed. Naruto in particular yelped the loudest, shooting a few feet in the air.
'Well that wasn't very scary
' Kiba said reluctantly.
'Oh really Kiba? I swear you held my hand at one point!' Said Ino. Everyone laughed.
'Hey! That wasn't me
' Kiba blushed, but Ino looked a little concerned. Kakashi performed another manic bout of evil laugher.
'It must have been Tek tek!' he said. Naruto howled once again.
'OH NO! Please, don't cut me in half tek tek!' He cowered away under his sleeping bag. 'Please no! Please spare me!' The duvet muffled his pleading. Sakura marched over and pummelled it with her usual mighty force.
'Calm down baka!' She shouted. Naruto whinged in pain, but ultimately, he shut up.
'Okay! Who's next?' Asked Kakashi with enthusiasm, 'Hinata! You got a story?' Hinata winced bashfully. Kakashi swivelled on his crouched feet slightly left of the shy kunoichi.
Sakura?' He asked.
'Well, I guess there's one I've sorta been thinking about recently, it's kind of a Haruno legend,'
'Haruno? You don't have a shinobi clan,' Neji smirked pompously as a proud member of the Hyūga clan. Tenten glared at her arrogant teammate in response.
'Sure, but it's about the first, and maybe the only other Kunoichi to come from our family. She was really inspiring for me growing up,' Sakura smiled to herself quietly.
a g-g-ghost story?' Naruto asked feebly.
it's more of a romance,'
'Well let's hear it!' Tenten cheered. Sakura remembered that the kunoichi with pom-pom hair was also from a normal background.
'Oh alright. It goes like this. She's said to have lived before the founding of the leaf village. Her name was Mayumi Haruno. She and her family were rice farmers, and responsible for supplying a strong clan nearby.'
'Which clan was this?' Sai asked.
'We don't know. They were just mercenary military forces back then, and didn't live with normal civilians in villages or towns, and they constantly battled each other.' Sakura explained.
'But Mayumi didn't want to be a rice farmer for the rest of her life. And one day, she met someone who offered her something else. A member of the neighbouring clan met her, and taught her taijutsu. She was a natural.'
'They sparred together, and he took her on smaller intelligence gathering missions from time to time, they truly fell in love in the process.'
'How romantic!' Said Tenten.
'Her family began to suffer due to poor harvests, and so she got a job as a servant in one of the clan households. The head of the household took advantage of her, but she could defend herself, and she was deeply in love with the man who taught her how to be a kunoichi. They continued to meet privately
'They would have eloped. But the head of the household where she worked was furious about her relationship with the other man. The two of them had a skirmish, fighting for the right to love Mayumi. But Mayumi interceded, defending her love and was killed unintentionally.'
'Stricken with grief, the man she loved allowed himself to die too.' Sakura sighed as her story came to a close.
'It's kind of a simple story I know,' said Sakura, yet Tenten's eyes were brimming with emotion, the rest of the team were lost in thought.
Later that night, after Naruto's lengthy story about a frog, the team had gone to sleep. Everyone was to take turns to stay awake and stand watch just in case. It was Sakura's turn for the hour.
Out of the corner of her eye, she noticed Hinata was still awake, tossing and turning. Sakura approached her, thinking perhaps Hinata was still despairing about the ghost story. Hinata flinched when Sakura tapped her shoulder.
'I think it's your turn now Hinata,' said Sakura.
o-okay Sakura,' she whispered weakly, hugging her pillow tightly.
'Hey what's up?' asked Sakura, 'Is it nightmares?'
I'm not very sure I'll be able sleep
'Well I can stay awake with you for the shift?' Sakura offered, who herself wasn't tired at all. Hinata thanked Sakura and they sat under a willow tree together. Since neither of them were talking, Sakura decided to break the ice knowing Hinata would be too shy.
'Ino's story was silly huh?' she joked, although Sakura's rivalry with Ino-pig still held some flame.
yes it was a little funny,'
'I'm just wondering if the 'blonde beauty' and her 'raven haired prince' were based on anybody,' Sakura muttered. The two of them then giggled heartily.
liked your story best Sakura, do you know if it really happened?' asked the timid Kunoichi.
'Oh thanks. Well it's been passed through my family, so I guess there's at least some truth in it.' Hinata exhaled, 'I wish romances like that happened more often,'
The two of them stared ahead into the hills, towards the lucid blue glow of the forbidden jutsu. from where they sat, despite it's hazard to them all, it looked beautiful.
Moments later, Naruto's eyelids began to flicker open. He grumbled to himself, realizing it was still nowhere near dawn, and it was cold. Worried it was his turn to stand watch, he kept as still as he could in his sleeping bag.
Just as he attempted to fall back to sleep, the whispering between Hinata and Sakura became audible. Naruto's ears pricked as he heard his name being mentioned.
'Is it true that you like Naruto now?' Sakura was astounded that Hinata of all people would ask something so personal.
'He's a very special friend to me, and I love him for everything he's done
even though I rarely admit it. But I'm not interested in him
romantically,' Sakura winced a little at the thought. Naruto turned away from the voices in his sleeping bag. He knew full well that Sakura never felt the same way about him, though he always reserved a glimmer of hope that one day she might.
'Is it because you still like Sasuke?' Hinata asked. Sakura was taken aback once again at Hinata's persistence. She considered her reply carefully.
'When Sasuke left the village
I requested Naruto that he bring him back. It was only a few months ago that I realized the weight of that burden on Naruto's shoulders. Sai said
it's sorta like a curse mark. Naruto was bound to it. I felt terrible, like part of his pain
and I realized that he had always been there for me,' Naruto's heart sank as he listened.
'So I wanted to hate Sasuke, as much as I hated myself at that moment for hurting Naruto, I wanted to be the one to kill him!' Sakura's voice began to tremble, 'I wanted Naruto to fill the space that Sasuke had left in my heart. Only
when I tried to tell Naruto I loved him
' Sakura clenched her fists, 'He didn't believe me. I only realized when I tried to kill Sasuke
that Naruto was right.' Sakura slumped into her lap, her whole body shook with sadness and quiet tears. Hinata gently placed a hand on Sakura's heaving shoulder, whilst Naruto buried himself in his sleeping bag.
'Sasuke is still there, in my heart.'