Hinata's mind was only half on the spar with her instructor that evening. She was worried about Naruto. True, he had come out of that mission all right last time, but a jounin was a jounin, and combat situations were inherently chaotic. She couldn't trust to chance that he would come out alive this time again, not even with his unbelievable luck. She smiled internally as she blocked a twisting strike to her neck. Naruto had luck, yes, but he was intelligent enough not to rely solely on it and was also sufficently... unorthodox, that he would be able to improvise his way out, for both himself and his team, if anything went wrong.
She blinked as she twisted away from a kick aimed at her stomach. Then she caught it as it reversed to follow her hip. That... was not a move she should have been able to notice coming. Come to think of it, neither was the earlier blow to her neck. Hinata retaliated with a basic one-two blow, only to be blocked and countered, she deflected the counter easily, the correct response coming without thought.
The both of them paused. The counter her teacher had just used was not one Hinata should have been able to identify at her level, let alone be expected to defend against it. What was she doing? Their eyes met and suddenly Hinata knew exactly what her instructor was doing. She was testing her. The teacher's eyes narrowed as she saw the light of realisation in Hinata's face. If her student had figured it out, then the time for subtlety was over. The woman came at her, fast, with the intent to do real harm. Hinata reacted and defended herself before she knew what she was doing, then began to fight back in earnest, all thought of restraint or wayward loves gone, swept away in the effort of the fight. Deflection, attack, counter-attack... it took all her skill to keep up. Hinata's eyes widened in horror. It took all her skill, carefully hidden until now, to keep up.
That moment of shock was enough for her opponent knock past her guard and deliver a strike to her chest. That palm was pulled moments before contact. They pulled away from each other, Hinata's mind racing. Why had she done this? Even if she knew Hinata was holding back in lessons, why go to such lengths to prove it? Her teacher simply examined her with her Byakugan before deactivating her eyes. She calmly began to speak.
"While it is not the place of the Branch Family to question the Main Family, I am currently acting under your father's authority." Hinata started. She hadn't suspected her father would be on to her so soon, let alone order her instructor to investigate her. "You have been holding back in our sessions. I suspected this, but that display just now confirmed it. Why?"
"I cannot say." Her tone was respectful, but she did not break eye contact. The instructor took notice of this.
"For what reason?"
"I cannot say, only that it concerns the well-being of both the clan and the village as a whole." It was technically true, Hinata mused. Depriving Konoha of the jounin Neji would become would indeed be detrimental to its well-being, and the resolution of his antagonistic feelings would help ease the tensions between the Main and Branch Families. Her instructor continued to press, though.
"In what way?"
"...I cannot say." She dropped her gaze in remorse at this. She truly couldn't speak of her reasons, not without answering even more questions that could not be asked yet. The instructor, however, was not aware of this, and was simply unimpressed with her reticence. Her eyes came back up to lock with her teachers'. "I ask that you not inform my father of this."
"I cannot do that, Hinata-sama. His authority supercedes yours. When he asks for the results of this test, I must answer truthfully." Her teacher's gaze met hers, both unwavering.
She tried a different approach, "Then I ask only that you do not reveal the extent of my restraint."
"For the clan." She repeated.
"And the village, yes?" The question was somewhat acerbic in tone.
"...Yes." The two of them did not look away from each other, their eyes locked, each silently daring the other to question their resolve. Their silent duel continued until the instructor spoke a few minutes later.
"You have not even considered it, have you?"
Hinata blinked a couple of times at the unexpected change in topic.
"I'm... sorry? Considered what?"
Her instructor was silent, seemingly considering for a few more moments. "...It is nothing. I can promise only that if he does not ask me directly, I will not answer."
Hinata smiled and bowed in thanks. "That will have to be enough, then. Thank you." When she straightened up, she asked, "If I may be excused, sensei?" A nod, and she turned to leave. She felt her teacher's eyes on her the entire way. Once she had gone, the Branch Family member lifted a shaking hand up to her forehead, lightly brushing her fingers against the bandages there. In their confrontation, Hinata had not even considered it. The very idea had not even entered her mind.
She let her hand drop back to her side and began crafting the story she was going to tell Hiashi.