I. Neji wished that fate existed, despite knowing I did not [exist].
Hyuga Hinata didn’t exist. Hinata-of-the-Cloud existed, but Hyuga Hinata did not. This was a problem. This was also why I was perhaps the only sane person (diehard hawks didn’t count) to resent the treaty that ended the bloody war against Fire Country.
Because suddenly I found myself a bartered-away chip in enemy territory.
I was lost in a sea of monoclones. They had the same eyes, the same stride, the same attitude, the same clinginess and delusion… Though I eventually realized that it was all the same man – it had simply taken me weeks to distinguish between them all.
He said that I was meant to be here, that there was no escaping fate, and no matter how much my eyes darted around, I could never find an escape. He knew because our fathers were twins, and we had the same blood running through our veins. He knew because he’d spent his life trying.
But he would help me anyway.
II. Neji wished that fate existed, despite knowing I did not [wish fate to exist].
Neji meant well, and this was no empty statement. Despite our rocky childhoods, he was the only one whose interests aligned with mine and backed me in the escalating conflict within our clan. So when he said that Hanabi’s capture wasn’t my fault, that she was reckless and headstrong enough to be an appealing target even if she had been sealed – he meant well.
But making it personality and not politics that doomed her didn’t change anything. I refused to accept that there was nothing I could have done about it, that it was all somehow going to happen.
I was the one who assigned Hanabi this mission. I was the one who had fought and fought to prevent her from being sealed. And these choices, like many others, were ones I had made, and I needed them to mean something.
(But Neji, perhaps he didn’t. Hanabi and he didn’t have the undercurrent of tension and strain that had always characterized the relationship between my sister and me, and lacked the bipolarity of Neji’s and mine. So maybe he needed something uncomplicated. I didn’t.)
III. Neji wished that fate existed, despite knowing [it] did not.
Somehow, their lives had always led up to this moment.
Hinata. Standing next to him. Reciting vows of unending devotion.
The unfairness of their childhoods. The division in their clans. Politics. Primogeniture. Curse seals. A promise to change things. This was destiny.
But Hyuga Hinata had never behaved as expected. She stubborn and unconventional at the most unexpected times.
For the clan’s sake, he hoped Uzumaki Hinata would be the same.