Disclaimer: I do not own Rurouni Kenshin

Before The Dawn
Prequel to The Color Black-Red

I studied the paper before me, looking at it with the utmost hatred. I raised my quill to write my assignment, but my hand fell back against the desk. I loved Dragons, and I loved Dragonology, but I hated Drako de Mauvais, the man who taught it all to me. I looked at the beautiful book beside me again. This was the book of Dragonology I had been studying, written by Dragon lover Ernest Drake. This book had taught me everything I knew about Dragonology, even it's strange alphabet. But now Drako-sensei wanted me to write a letter to him in the Dragon language. He said not to use the book, but I had too. I hardly knew how to speak it, much less write it.

"Kamiya Kaoru! You stupid, stupid useless girl! Can you do nothing right?" There was Drako now, coming up the stairs. I could not show him that I had done nothing! Quickly I gathered my book and my blank papers and hid them under my canopy bed. Then I threw myself on it, closed my eyes and let out a soft moan.

"Kaoru! Baka! What are you doing, you stupid girl? Get up!" Drako shook me and I moaned again.

"Oh, Drako-sensei, I do not feel at all well…" I groaned and turned over for effect.

"Probably all this wealth has gone to your head! I knew your father should have sent you away!" Drako snarled. "I do not care if you do not feel well! Your letter to me is still due tomorrow!" Then he stalked out.

I peeked open an eye and saw that he was truly gone. Drako was such an unpleasant man. I got up and reached for my brush. If I could not write the letter, then why should I not brush out my knotty hair? I winced in pain as the brush caught a fairly large knot. I had left it idle for too long, it seems.

I lived in my father's mansion in a village called Serras. My Father is a lord of Serras, and so it is true, we lived in luxury. My sister Tomoe and my brother Sanosuke also live here with us. My mother died when I was only eight years old. That was nine years ago. I miss her so much.

Just as I was about to go out and walk around our beautiful village, another cry, this time loud and obnoxious, cut through the once tranquil air. "Kaoru! Get down here this instant! It is time to practice your kenjetsu!"

I winced. The teacher who taught me kenjetsu, the martial arts or the sword arts, was nearly as bad as Drako. His name was Hiko Seijuro.

I enjoyed kenjetsu very much – but Hiko-sensei is a pain. He is very arrogant and quite large and he always accused me of being, 'just another weak woman'.

I ran down the stairs, out the parlour doors and into the dojo, which lay beside our mansion.

Hiko waited inside. "There you are, Tanuki."

Oh, Kami. It annoyed me so much when he called me Tanuki.

"Alright, Kaoru." Hiko took a step toward me and said, "Get into that defensive stance we learned a week ago."

I did so. And so passed another kenjetsu lesson, where Hiko attacked and I blocked until he knocked me down. And then I would try to knock him down, but since he is a master of both swords and kenjetsu, that was pretty much impossible. He taught the sword style Hiten Mitsurugi Ryu to Himura Kenshin, another inhabitant of Serras, and one of Serras' champion warriors.

"Good job today, Tanuki." Hiko said gruffly. I was surprised. It is not like him to compliment someone.

But, instead of showing my surprise, I bowed and thanked him saying, "Duomo arigato, Hiko-sensei." Then I left. I needed to have a bath. I called for my maid, eleven year-old Toshi Sakura. "Sakura-chan?" I called.

She came running. She was very cute, with brown hair tied up in a big, floppy bun.

"Yes, Kaoru-sama?" she bowed low.

"Could you warm up a bath for me, Sakura-chan?" I asked.

"Of course, Kaoru-sama."

I hugged the little girl, which quite surprised her. "Arigato, Sakura-chan." I whispered.

She stiffened but then hugged me back. She said, "Kaoru-sama, I… you are welcome, Kaoru-sama."

I let go of her, smiled, then waved and went on my way.

She looked at me and then turned to go heat up the bath. "It will be ready in a few minutes, Kaoru-sama!"

A few minutes later, I undressed and crawled into the now hot bath. I sighed and relaxed. I washed off Draco's cruelty, Hiko's tendency to annoy me and, of course, the sweat I acquired while doing kenjetsu.

"Is it hot enough, Kaoru-sama?" I heard through the wood.

"Its great, Sakura-chan! Arigato."

I heard her little footsteps fading away. I smiled again and reached for the book I was reading.

Time passed, and I read a good long bit. Then the water started to cool. "Sakura-chan? Could you possibly put more logs into the fire?" I called. There was no answer. "Sakura-chan?" I sighed wistfully, wishing that she had come back; I had just gotten to an excellent part in my book. But it would be wonderful to read it as I settle in to bed tonight as well. I got out, wrapped myself in a big, fluffy white towel and crept out of the bathroom.

I went up to my room, dried myself off and put on my favourite navy blue dress. It had a big, round skirt, as did all of my dresses. I did not like tight skirts, and they struck my father as inappropriate anyway. Big, loose sleeves were also popular with me too, though I didn't dislike tight sleeves. I quickly dried my hair, brushed it and braided it. Loose, my silky black hair hung to my waist, and I considered it to be my best feature.

Finally I was free of teachings and ready to go out! I smiled to myself. I ran out of my room and bumped straight into my brother's young servant Myojin Yahiko. His eyes grew very big.

"Um… umm… hello Kaoru-sama." He bowed low, as if to conceal something. When I straightened up I saw the slightest hint of a blush fade off his cheeks.

"Hello, Yahiko-kun!" I greeted cheerily, "I must be going now. I shall see you later at dinner!" It was a rule at my house; a rule that my father disapproved of, that the servants must eat at the table with us.

"O-okay, Kaoru-sama." He smiled weakly, "See you then." And he scurried off, very fast for such a small boy.

I waved and left the house. I turned down the street that led into town. Up ahead I saw my friend Misao flirting with her secret love Aoshi. I sighed and shook my head. I knew Misao and Aoshi would be together someday, but they were going about the business of falling in love very slowly. Makimachi Misao was my best friend aside from my sister. Shinomori Aoshi was also another close friend of mine. His father is Shinomori Yoichi, a lord of a place called Shiro, possibly the prettiest part of the Kingdom.

"Konnichiwa, Kaoru-chan!" Misao greeted, looking a little disappointed at my interruption.

"Greetings, Kaoru." Aoshi said in his usual monotone. What was that emotion in his eyes? Love? Yes, I was sure. Love for Misao, no doubt. Aoshi is kind once you get to know him, but he is very secretive and emotionless, even around Misao, who I hope he likes. I couldn't help smiling devilishly. "Oh… I see. You don't want me to interrupt your important flirting time, Misao." I cackled at the horrified look on Misao's face. "Don't worry, I'm going now."

I left without a backward glance, although, as I left I could feel someone's eyes on me, and they were not the furious eyes of Misao, that I was sure of.

TBC…

A/N: Hello! So, how are you doing? Do you like my story? Review it, please!