Morning had finally came, ending my restless sleep

Morning had finally came, ending my restless sleep. I sat up in my bed groggily, the lack of sleep apparent in my subtle features. I smiled a little as I wished myself a "Happy birthday". Today was not going to be so bad, I assured myself. I slowly climbed out of bed, threading lightly to my bathroom. The air was chilly from the downpour of the night before and the smell of rain invigorated my senses, waking me up as I continued with my daily morning ritual.

Should I put on my best outfit? I mused, staring critically at my pale portrait in the mirror. My best clothes were nothing extravagant or beautifully special. As heir to the Hyuuga household, people would think otherwise. However, my best garment was just a simple plain silk, lilac kimono with a navy blue obi. I heard a timid knock on my door and an uneasy silence ensued as the person awaited for my permission to enter.

"Yes? You may enter," I said kindly, feeling strange for speaking for the first time that day.

A diminutive girl shuffled nervously into the room, putting on a brave smile, "Happy birthday, Hinata-sama. I am here to help you prepare for the ceremony."

I smiled, she was such a dear, as I handed her my obi and started getting into my lilac kimono.

"Thank you for helping me, Yuki," I said, trying to make the servant girl more comfortable around me.

She smiled, "You're always so nice, Hinata-sama."

"Oh, don't say that, I'm sure the others treat you well."

"Well… not really. I get scolded and beaten a lot for being too slow," Yuki said sadly.

I looked at her pitifully and felt anger rising up in me. It was such a disgrace to know that my family abused their servants. Weren't we supposed to be noble and righteous? I sighed, looking at how my father treated me; I knew the Hyuuga name was just a façade for the noble, righteous and all things supposedly good.

In no less than half and hour, I was ready and fully dressed. I wore light makeup as Yuki had insisted on it and said that I should look prettier for my birthday. I ventured to the great hall with the little servant girl scurrying behind me in small steps. My hands paused for a moment as I stood in front of the doors, its intricate designs staring back at me. I studied the delicate artwork on those doors, steadying my breathing as I entered to face the elder council.

No, there were no shouts of "Happy birthday, Hinata!" Nor were there any sounds of joyous, merry-making. I was greeted by cold and severe stares and a deafening silence. They were all there already, every single last one of them seated in two great rows, with my father right in the middle. My father's perpetual frown drew into an unpleased scowl. I stiffened slightly; I wasn't late now, was I? Why did he always have to have such a negative mood about him whenever it was something to do with me? It was my birthday, darn it! I was not one to curse much, but sometimes my dad was so frustrating.

"Good morning, Hinata-sama. You have arrived just in time," one of my uncles stepped out to greet me, smiling faintly but kept the rest of his expressions serious.

"Let us start then. We haven't got all day," my father's booming voice called out impatiently.

"Of course, Father," I said, bowing down with respect and walking up to the table to take my seat.

--

I knew Neji was waiting in my room before I even entered it. True, that he did hide his chakra but I knew that this was the moment he had been waiting for his entire life. So I was not surprised to see him standing by my window sill, grazing out, his expression unreadable as always. He did not move when I entered or walked up towards him as he appeared to be contemplating on something of grave importance.

"Hinata-chan," Neji murmured quietly, his eyes glazed over as he was in deep thought, "Happy birthday."

He pointed to a purple box on my dresser, "your present."

"Oh, thank you Neji-um-kun," I walked over and picked it up, surprised at how heavy the box was. "What is it?"

"Go ahead and open it," Neji replied, eyes still gazing out of the window.

"Oh no, I can't open in front of you. Its rude. I'll save it for later," I smiled at him, delighted that he got me a gift.

"Neji-nii, I mean Neji-kun," I said, unsure of my voice, "are you ready?" The last few words came out in merely a whisper.

This time he turned towards me, what best described as a smile spread across his stoic features. I felt my blood run cold; there was something creepy about that smile. I slapped myself mentally, here I am thinking poorly of Neji again. I just was not used to Neji smiling, all my life I hardly ever saw him smile which was probably why I thought it so strange and unreal.

"Now, Hinata-chan," he towered over me, looking down into my pearly orbs.

"Yes, now. Um… Neji-kun. It might hurt a little. Please forgive me," I started to mumble, swallowing my words. I was amazed that he could understand what I had said, knowing how inaudible I must have sounded.

"Don't be silly, Hinata-chan, I know you will never hurt me," Neji replied.

"But Neji-"

"I'll be fine. Don't worry. You said you'll help me right?" Neji cupped my chin in one of his hands, forcing me to look up at him. I was shocked by the sudden contact and stepped away.

"Hinata-chan? Are you afraid of me?" He asked, his eyebrows rose questioningly.

"Oh no, sorry. Just a bit nervous about it," it was not entirely a lie. I was scared that I would mess up and he would remain trapped forever.

"I know you can do this, Hinata-chan," he said encouragingly.

Neji undid his forehead protector that constantly hid his curse seal and knelt down before me. My heart rate quickened as I tried to recall the steps in unlocking the seal. Focus, Hinata! Focus! I closed my eyes in deep concentration, I suddenly found it harder to breathe as I manipulated my chakra. My fingertips were barely touching Neji's forehead and I felt a warm glow around my hands. Something pulled against my fingers, moving my hands away, the tugging force grew stronger. I gritted my teeth as I started a little tug-of-war session. Maybe I wasn't strong enough to do this. No! I must concentrate! With renewed vigour, I focused my chakra to my fingers once again and pulled.

--

I struggled to open my eyes as a dull ache swam through my head. I stood up wearily, holding my head in my hands, trying to soothe the pain my cranium bore. What had happened? Confusion consumed me as I tried to remember the events earlier. Oh, Neji! I snapped my head up, suddenly alert and scanned my bedroom. He was no where to be seen. I wondered if it had worked. Did I hurt him? Did I kill him? I scratched out the last thought, there was no way I could have killed Neji. Besides, his body was not lying around in my room. I found it unusual that the door to my room was left open. Why would Neji do that? I walked out and was greeted by surreal quietness. My eyes grew wide with frantic. Blood! The sick metallic smell of blood invaded my nostrils.

"Neji!" I cried out running down the hallway as the vile blood stench grew stronger, overwhelming my senses.

"Neji?" I stopped short, seeing a body on the floor. No, it was not Neji. But, something else was wrong.

"Hideki-sama!" I recognized the figure slumped over as one of the elders.

I ran towards my granduncle and reached out for him, recoiling immediately after contacting with his cool skin. He was dead. He must have been lying there for a few hours since his body had already stiffened. What was happening? Why hadn't anyone noticed that Hideki-sama was attacked and even worst, dead! I ran towards the great hall, I needed to inform someone or surely someone would know what was going on around here.

I crumbled to the floor and felt my insides churned, looking at the scene before me. This was a nightmare. The smell of blood was so strong now that I blocked my nose, forcing myself to breathe through my mouth. I could taste the air that seemed drenched with blood. I choked, almost throwing up; my eyes could not tear themselves away from the horror.

The rest of the elders were in the grand hall, slain. All of them, lying, unmoving in sticky pools of red fluid. My father! A single thought cried out in my head, ripping all other thoughts aside. I ran straight to his limp body, not caring that I had stained my best kimono with the crimson liquid.

"Father!" I heaved his torso up against my lap, looking fearfully at him as his head simply lolled to the side.

"Father!" I screamed again, not noticing that I was already shedding salty tears.

"Please! What's happening?" My shouts were frantic, my head was spinning. Tears blurred out my vision as I started gasping for air. Wake up, Hinata! Wake up!

"Father?" I questioned again, shaking his limp body. By this time, I was all out bawling.

"Why are you crying, Hinata-chan?" A husky voice entered my ears. I was crying so loudly I wasn't sure if I had heard it. I immediately soften my sobs and glanced around, my eyes fixated on a tall, lone figure. I wiped the tears from my eyes, clearing my vision and stared at him, lips quivering, hands shaking.

"Are you sad, Hinata-chan?" No concern rested in his voice as he spoke to me.