"I have failed you, but I have loved you from the start." — Unknown
There was peace in the village known as Konohagakure, affectionally dubbed "Konoha" by its citizens and their neighboring lands. No wars were occupying the people's time, no rumors of horrific criminal activity. Everything was just normal, allowing the people to live happy and productive lives without much worry.
Walking through the bustling streets of Konoha, a young shinobi, Sakamazu Hazuki, headed to Hokage Tower. He was feeling rather excited, a large grin adorning his face, because he was going to be assigned a mission for a wealthy clan. His little heart pounded deep within his chest as he walked up the stairs to the Hokage's office. He was already thinking of the various possible missions he would get.
"Maybe I'll get to bodyguard some rich feudal lord?" he asked himself with a small squeal. "Or I'll be entrusted with some secret treasure that no one else knows about? Ooh, this is gonna be sweet!"
Hazuki pushed open the doors and walked inside. The Hokage, Sarutobi Hiruzen, looked up from his desk and smiled. He stacked his papers together as he exhaled smoke from his pipe. "Ah, Hazuki. You've come just on time." He held out his hand to the man sitting next to him. "This is the main servant of the Fuyotsuki clan, Juugetsu."
Out of courtesy, Hazuki bowed his head in respect. "Please to meet you. My name is Sakamazu Hazuki so please take care of me." He looked up with a polite smile. "What is the mission you have for me, Hokage-sama?"
There was a small smile from Hiruzen as he blew from his pipe again. "Juugetsu-san? Would you please?"
He nodded, folding his hands in front of his mouth and nose as he looked straight at Hazuki. "Sakamazu-kun, the Fuyotsuki clan would like to ask you for your participation in looking for the family's pet ferret. It seems to have gone missing for some strange reason and no one seems to know where it's gone."
"I understand," Hazuki said, making sure to hide his slight disappointment. "I'll do what I can to be of help."
~ ღ ~
Juugetsu took Hazuki back to the Fuyotsuki compound, located deep within the Land of Fire. They were welcomed warmly by the servants of the compound and escorted them to the main meeting room. Both males were served tea before the doors closed. "Nadeshiko-sama will be here to see you both soon," said one of the maids with a smile.
It was quiet in the meeting room as Hazuki and Juugetsu sipped their tea. About twenty minutes passed and there was still no sign of this "Nadeshiko-sama." Juugetsu let out a tired sigh and stood up. "I'll go see if she's in her room again. Please wait here until I return, Sakamazu-kun."
Hazuki nodded as he watched him leave before turning to sip his tea again. Suddenly, a light squeaking noise reached his ears. He blinked and turned in the direction of the sound, noticing a ball of fur pass by the door. Then a creature poked its head in the door on the other side of the room; it looked like a ferret.
Putting down his teacup, Hazuki walked over to the ferret and reached his hand out slowly. Instead of running away, the animal stood and looked at him. Hazuki smiled as he began to pet its head. He noticed the collar around its neck and blinked. So this must be the missing family pet.
The boy walked further outside and picked up the ferret, stroking its fur gently. "I'm sure your owner is worried sick about you," he said with a smile. "Let's take you back into the house." He carried the small ferret to the front gates of the compound and into the main hall. The servants rejoiced when they saw that the ferret was safe and sound.
Juugetsu was informed of the news and ran to Hazuki. "Oh, thank you! You found Ton-chan so quickly! We appreciate how much you've done for us, Sakamazu-kun! Please know that we will pay you handsomely for this."
"No, there's no need to do that," Hazuki answered with a light laugh. "I was just doing my job as a shinobi. It was my pleasure to help."
As he talked with Juugetsu, a young girl about Hazuki's age in a light green kimono watched him from the corner of a room. She was the only daughter and heiress to the Fuyotsuki family, Nadeshiko, and Hazuki seemed to have caught her attention.
She watched as Hazuki received his payment and leaving the compound before she stopped him. "Hey you!"
He stopped and turned around with a frown, not liking the rude tone. He cleared his throat as he smiled, trying to keep his politeness in his tone. "Yes?"
Nadeshiko smirked and picked up her ferret, stroking it gently. "I should thank you for finding my Ton-chan so fast," she said, "but since you're a shinobi, it's your job to do stuff like this."
Hazuki blinked and frowned as he turned to face her. "You don't have to thank me if you're not comfortable with it," he answered. "So I won't be upset if you didn't."
The girl let out a scoff as she laughed. "You really think I'd be upset over that?" she teased. "I was thinking that you deserved better than a weak little thank you fro me me." She walked up to the boy and gave him a kiss on the cheek. "You're going to come back and hang out with me. Starting today, you're my new friend."
Surprised, Hazuki blinked as he stared at her as if she grew another head. "What?"
"Didn't you hear me?" Nadeshiko said with a pout. "I've made you my friend so you should be happy about it. You're going to come to my house and play with me all the time. Got that?"
"And I won't take no for an answer!"
He blinked as he stumbled back slightly. He had opened his mouth to protest but saw the other servants watching from inside. They were giggling and smiling amongst each other, happy that their lady had found a friend. Hazuki sighed as he looked away. "Fine. I'll be your friend."
"Good!" Nadeshiko grinned. "Make sure to get here by sunrise tomorrow so we can play. I'll make the schedule so all you need to do is show up!"
"S-Sure," Hazuki muttered as he heard the servants clapping happily. So much for early-morning training...
~ ღ ~
This happened for the next year, much to Hazuki's displeasure at first. He spent a lot of his time being Nadeshiko's "friend," showing her around Konoha and even playing all the odd games that she made up. Over time, he found himself enjoying her company and going along with her antics.
Nadeshiko also found herself wanting to be around Hazuki more as she spent more time with him. She made sure to keep him around as much as possible and unknowingly developed a small crush on him. The servants could tell she had a crush right away, mainly whenever Nadeshiko demanded the boy's attention. She grew jealous when he took more time to train than to hang out with her.
One time, Hazuki was away on an important mission for a whole week and hadn't told Nadeshiko about his absence. The girl was angry when her summons for him were ignored and she was nonetheless beside herself with worry, unable to eat or sleep for days. When Hazuki finally returned to the village, Nadeshiko was the first one to greet him...with a punch to his face.
Hazuki stumbled backwards and fell on his butt, holding his swollen cheek. He frowned up at Nadeshiko as he questioned her, "What's the meaning of this?" His eyes softened when he saw Nadeshiko in tears as she stood in front of him. "Nade...shiko-sama--"
"How come you didn't tell me you were gone, you jerk?" she yelled as the tears streamed down her face. "Do you really not like being around me?!"
The boy was stunned as he stood up. "N-No, it wasn't like that at all," he said as he reached out a hand to her. "I--"
She pushed his hand away as she screamed, "I hate you!" before running off. Her ladies-in-waiting hurried after and Hazuki sighed, now feeling the guilt eat away at his spirit.
~ ღ ~
Following after the servants, Hazuki went back to the compound and found Nadeshiko crying in the backyard garden. He sighed quietly and walked over to her, sitting next to her. "Never thought I'd see the day when I'd see you cry."
The female glared at him as she huffed. "What do you want?" she asked coldly. "Go away and leave me alone!"
"I wanted to talk to you," Hazuki answered. "Well...I wanted to apologize." He looked down at his feet before he stared back at the green-haired girl. "I wanted to say that I'm sorry for leaving you without saying anything. I had an important mission so I had to leave quickly. I didn't have time to tell you that I'd be gone."
Nadeshiko sniffled but glared at him. "And I'm sure you were happy to get away from me, weren't you?" she yelled as she stomped her foot. Then she turned away from him, her cheeks flushing red. "I know you were..."
Quickly, the blond turned her back around and pressed his lips lightly against hers. "Don't be silly," he said when he pulled away. "Of course I missed you. There's no doubt about that, Nadeshiko."
Her eyes widened before more tears streamed down her face. She jumped and hugged her arms around his neck, pressing her lips against his again. Hazuki let out a small chuckle before he patted her back gently. Nadeshiko blushed even more as she snuggled her face against his neck. "I like you, Hazuki-kun. Please...don't leave me again."
The boy smiled before he hugged her even tighter. "I like you, too, Nadeshiko." He chuckled as he rubbed her back, trying to calm her down a little more. "Took you long enough to say that."
She blushed in embarrassment and pouted, hearing him laugh. "Shut up!"