They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. In this vein, I would like to admit that I own neither 'Naruto' nor 'Roman Holiday.'
There was a small scratch in the marble. Hinata Hyuuga loving ran her gloved fingers over it, pressing them down hard enough to feel the small ridge. Her eyes traveled up the pillar, looking for other small imperfections. She found her reflection staring back at her in the polished surface. As her fingers continued to caress the marble she heard the muffled rustling of cloth rushing closer. She sighed softly to herself and then turned to find herself face to face with her personal assistant and bodyguard, Tenten.
"Your highness! What are you doing here?" Tenten looked nervously around the room as if rogue ninja were waiting in the classic entablature, ready to swoop down and abduct Hinata. Cocking her head to the side, Hinata giggled at the thought of goofy shadow clone cherubim emerging from behind the frieze sculpture.
"Tenten, you may call me Hinata," the princess said softly as Tenten bowed. Hinata frowned slightly and stiffened as Tenten ushered her towards the entryway. Her large skirts hovered noisily above the black marble floor as Hinata walked.
"Are you ready your highness?"
"Tenten, please," Hinata's voice quavered a bit. "I've given you permission to call me by name."
Tenten shook her head. "No, your highness. It wouldn't be proper."
Hinata sighed and then steeled herself as she faced the large ballroom. Tenten mistook her apprehension for nervousness.
"Don't worry, your highness, you'll be perfectly fine. You've done this a countless number of times."
"Yes," Hinata breathed, barely audible. "Countless times."
"Her highness, Princess Hinata Hyuuga."
Hinata entered the room with an effortless grace, a talent reserved for those who are naturally born with it and are brought up in an environment to nurture it. She plastered a serene smile on her face as she slowly walked up to the small dais in the center of the ballroom. It provided her with a circular view of the entire room, and was accompanied by a low-hanging cascade of crystal, brilliantly lit by dozens of flickering candles. Hinata turned her head demurely to the side, attempting to look coyly at the carpet on the dais. In reality, this maneuver was to avoid the blinding flashes of light that danced all around her.
Lifting her head slightly, Hinata's gaze fell on the richly upholstered chair and her serenity faltered. She ached to sit down for a moment, the shoes her dresser had picked out for her were two sizes too small. Hinata smiled as she recollected Ino's overzealous reaction to the deceptively simple-looking shoes.
"They're perfect!" she had screamed, to the dismay of everyone else in the small Konohagakure shop.
"Ummmm…but Ms. Yamanaka, they're not my size…"
Hinata's soft plea fell on deaf ears. "Of course you'll wear them to the ball tonight. In your honor!" After this proclamation Ino Yamanaka had squealed, clearing out the rest of the small shoe shop's clientele.
Hinata suddenly felt a tap on her shoulder and shuddered, suppressing the urge to jump. She looked up to find her cousin Neji staring at her.
"You're going to greet the local leaders of Konohagakure now," Neji whispered, placing a sturdy hand on her shoulder.
"Thank you." Hinata flashed a small, and extremely rare, smile at the powerful man who had been like a brother to her for years. Neji bowed quickly and stepped back into his proper place among her entourage.
"Shikamaru Nara, of the Nara clan."
Hinata smiled at the brown-haired young man in front of her and extended her arm. He took her gloved hand limply.
"Thank you, Mr. Nara. Your attendance is appreciated."
He wordlessly nodded. Hinata dropped his hand and bowed. His eyes glazed over with boredom, Shikamaru Nara lazily bowed back, his movements fluid and relaxed. Hinata gazed after him for a moment before pasting another peaceful smile on her face.
"Shino Aburame, of the Aburame clan."
"Thank you, Mr. Aburame. Your attendance is appreciated." Hinata offered her hand and Shino Aburame grasped it firmly.
"Thank you for your invitation," he said, almost coldly. His face was obscured by dark colored glasses and an unusually high collar. Hinata shivered a bit as he bent low to brush a kiss on the top of her hand. There was a small black birthmark behind his ear that resembled a beetle. She quickly waved Mr. Aburame away to turn to the next member of the receiving line.
The announcer's voice droned on as Hinata continued to smile and murmur niceties to the Konohagakure elite. The pressure on her feet had reached an unbearable level, and Hinata found herself inwardly cursing her dresser for convincing her to buy the shoes. As she was introduced to Jiraiya, the Toad Mountain Sage, and one of the three legendary sages, she took advantage of her large, floor-length skirts to ease her left foot from her tiny shoe. Breathing out a sigh of relief, she grinned outwardly at Jiraiya. He rewarded her with a lascivious smirk and a glance at her chest. Disgusted, Hinata unwittingly stepped back, forgetting that she had removed one of her shoes, and stumbled backwards. Neji quickly sprinted forward to catch her.
"Are you alright, sister?" Neji's hand clamped down on her arm.
Hinata nodded tightly. "I'm fine, thank you brother." She shuffled her feet a bit, trying desperately to slip her foot back into her shoe. Unfortunately, when she tripped, she had accidentally kicked it forward to the edge of her broad skirts. Neji nodded, holding her arm for a bit longer before bowing to the next dignitary and returning to the back of the dais.
Sighing quietly, Hinata held out her hand to a young blonde woman waiting patiently in front of her.
"The Fifth Hokage of Konohagakure, Lady Tsunade." Hinata quickly masked her shock as she bowed to the woman in front of her. Usually political leaders were older, often with literal battle scars from the constant squabbling that existed between the hidden villages. The woman who stood in front of Hinata was flawless and young, despite the fact that Hinata knew her to be much older.
"You have a lovely village, Lady Tsunade."
Lady Tsunade nodded at the vague comment and shook Hinata's hand firmly, looking her up and down with a wry smile. Hinata's content smile faltered as she continued her attempt to regain her shoe.
"I look forward to our meeting tomorrow, Princess Hyuuga."
Hinata replied with an awkward bow. Her toes were curled around the heel of her discarded shoe and she was desperately trying to pull it backwards towards the center of her skirts.
As Lady Tsunade walked away from the dais, Neji stepped forward to take Hinata's arm and lead her to sit. Ordinarily, Hinata would have whispered, 'Finally,' to Neji and eagerly sat down for a moment before standing up again to lead off the first dance; however, now she fervently wished for another person to pop up in the receiving line to give her more time.
Hinata reluctantly took Neji's arm, keeping her smile in place as she watched her skirts move over her missing shoe. She felt a shudder from Neji and looked up. His light-colored eyes were blank as always, but she could tell by the shaking of his shoulders that he was suppressing the urge to laugh. Hinata kept her own eyes blank, as the chair in the middle of the dais was brilliantly lit by the dripping crystal chandelier. She resisted her own urge to squint or cover her eyes.
"Only four more hours to go," she whispered.
A/N: My writing style is usually complex to a fault, and I know I went overboard in this chapter, and probably will continue for a few more Hinata-centric chapters. Also, you may have noticed I chose not to use the common honorifics determining a character's relationship or station in life (Hinata-hime, Yamanaka-san). However, I tried to keep the meaning of these honorifics present. Hopefully this doesn't make my story harder to read.