Soft taps echoed off the cream colored walls as a girl in her early twenties ran down the hallways. Her kimono was bunched up in her hands and lifted a few inches off the floor. Her eyes quickly scanned each room as she ran through them. She didn't bother admiring the golden colored tile or the furniture that seemed to cost a fortune, she only ran down the brightly lit hallways in search of one person.

"Ouch" She hissed when her sandal broke. Cursing lightly, she took off the other one, picked them both up, and started running again. This time her footsteps were barely heard.

She stopped abruptly when she passed a certain wall. Her eye-brows touched as she walked over to it. "Where is it?" She asked no one in particular. Her fingers touched the wall where a sign was written. Before there was a painting of her mother there, but now…

She shook her head. That painting was the only thing she had left of her mother. It made her feel like she actually had a family and not the devil of a father, his little minion who was her sister, and her evil step mother.

People always told her that she was the spitting image of her mother, but she didn't think so. Her mother's face was much happier, and oh so full of life. Her eyes seemed to glow when she smiled and people could feel the warmth radiate off of her, at least that's what every one told her. Her mother had died of fever shortly after she was born.

Her face, however, was very sorrowful. Her features drooped and her eyes were dull, seeping with loss and loneliness. She didn't think that someone as beautiful as her mother could ever be compared to her. Still, no matter how many times she denied it, no one agreed with her.

The girl lifted up the sign and saw that there was a key hole in the wall. She smiled softly to herself as she took a silver chain that hung around her neck from underneath her clothes. Hanging on the end of the chain was a small silver key with the Hyuuga insignia. She placed it gently into the slot on the wall and turned it. With a small creak it opened and she found a little chamber with several items in it.

Her smile broadened, they hadn't found it! It was safe and now that she was old enough she could finally call these things her own.

Her mother had given her best friend the key before she died; only her mother, her mother's best friend, and she knew where it was. And she was happy, it was hers only and she barely had anything to call her own. The only thing was, how many people know about the key hole now that her mother's painting was gone?

The girl quickly closed the door of the chamber and locked it back up. She put the sign back on and turned around to start walking again when she spotted her father in the other room, currently walking in her direction while shouting orders to passing maids.

She quickly ducked her head and looked at the golden tile that was all the sudden the most interesting thing in the world.

"Hinata!" Her father hollered, even though he was standing right in front of her.

"H-hai, father?" She said as visibly shrunk under her father's threatening gaze. She played with her hands and kept her head hung, never returning her fathers look.

"What are you doing? You should be preparing for when our guests arrive!" If eyes could burn holes, Hinata would've been incinerated ages ago.

"Y-yes, Father, I will be getting ready in a moment, G-gomenasai father." She said bowing after every other word. Her father glared at her one last time before stomping away, causing one maid to trip and spill punch on his clothes.

Hinata felt sorry for the maid for she was soon to be terminated. `That's the seventh to go this week.' She thought. Hinata turned away and walked to another room before her father fired the maid. She walked down a darker hallway and knocked on a door. "Hanabi? Hanabi you must get ready for the crowned prince's arrival." She called through the door.

The door swung open and her younger sister glared at her. Hanabi was as tall as Hinata but she was still three years younger than her. Her hair reached down to the middle of her back and was tied together at the very bottom. She wore a white kimono that reached all the way to the floor with a lavender obi wrapped around her waist. Hanabi was also very beautiful, not as beautiful as Hinata's mother people would say, but none the less beautiful. With her angular face, long eyelashes, full lips and rosy cheeks how could you say she wasn't?

The only thing that made her seem intimidating was her piecing white eyes that always seemed to paralyze you in a heartbeat. `She learned that from father." Hinata thought.

Hanabi's cold eyes glared at her and Hinata bowed her head slightly. "I'll be ready in a few minutes; in the mean time you can clean my snake's container." Hanabi said with an evil grin. She walked back into her room and went behind a screen to get dressed.

Hinata walked into her room and sighed. She had to do what her sister said, even though she was the eldest. If she didn't then her father would beat her again. She kneeled over on the floor in front of a rectangular box with a lid covering it.

She rolled her sleeves up and tied them securely before she took the lid off of the box. In the bottom of the box was a red and black snake. Hinata took in a deep breath before she stuck her hand in and took out some of the egg shells and animal leftovers that were lying around. She shivered when the snake coiled itself around her arm and she gently pushed it off her.

Placing the scraps and droppings in a basket she placed the lid back on and let out the breath she had been holding the entire time. Silently, she walked over to a chair that sat by the window and examined the room.

The room was painted a creamy white color with gold lining around the edges of the it. In the left corner of the room was her sister's bed with the perfect silk sheets on them and the feathered pillows stacked neatly on the head of the bed. The right corner of the room was the dressing screen that Hanabi was currently behind. And next to that was a large chest the Hanabi kept her clothes in. A wide Maru table sat in the middle of her bed room and a few seating cushions were surrounding it.

Hanabi's room was very spacious and the thick carpeting nestled between Hinata's toes. `Her room is so much nicer than mine.' Hinata thought

"Hinata, you may leave now." Hanabi said walking out from behind the screen with a black silk kimono with a red obi tied around her waist. Her hair was piled to the top of her head, secured by two decretive chopsticks and pearl hair clips. Her lips were painted red and a little powder made her rosy cheeks seem a little pale.

Hinata bowed and left the room, still having to get dressed herself. She closed the room door and walked farther down the hallway. "Boo!" Hinata gasped and put her hand to her chest. A girl with fox ears and a fox tail jumped down from the ceiling, her tail twitching happily behind her. She had dark black hair and blood red eyes that had a single black line run straight through the middle of them. She was laughing hard at Hinata's shocked face.

"Yume!" Hinata hissed staring at the crouching neko in front of her. "You nearly scared me half to death"

The girl only laughed harder, holding her stomach and rolling onto her back. Hinata glared at her for a few minutes before she went over and pinched the girls fox ear. The neko yelped and stopped laughing immediately.

Yume pouted before smiling up at Hinata and standing. Crossing her arms over her chest, Hinata glared at her. "Guess what?" Yume said giddily. Hinata sighed and rolled her eyes. "What?" she asked in a sort of bored tone. Yume's smile widened "Your father's third wife is with-child"

Hinata's eyes widened and her breath caught in her chest. 'I'm going to have another brother or sister?' Hinata shook her head as she stomped down the dark hallway. She stopped when she came to a door with five locks on it and walked into the room. The neko followed her all the way into the room

After shutting the door, Hinata started ranting back and fourth in the room, seven steps from one wall to the next."How could they do this? Do they really want me to stay away from the throne? Well they can think again, I'm not giving up my birthright!" Hinata sat down on a bed that barely left space in the room to walk around in.

Yume just looked at Hinata with an amused smile planted on her lips. She hadn't seen Hinata this angry since her father told her that if she didn't work harder then he would give the throne to her sister.

Hinata slid off her bed and kneeled down on the floor. Reaching underneath the bed, she pulled out a small chest. It was made out of sandalwood and smelled wonderful. Symbols were engraved on the side of the chest, but no one seemed to know what they meant.

`I'll try not to fail, mother, Hanabi seems to be better at everything and I can't seem to catch up. But I will find something I'm better at than she, I'll take back your throne.' Hinata opened up the chest and pushed the cobwebs out the way.

She gently lifted up a white silk kimono with orange embroidery at the bottom and at the neck, caressing it gently between her fingers. Silent tears fell down her face and she placed the kimono on the bed and pulled the orange silk obi from the chest.

Hinata's mother had given her best friend the key and this chest to give to Hinata on her sixteenth birthday. Hinata hadn't even thought about it for four years; but now it was time to use this gift, and she would use it well.

Hinata stood up and turned to Yume, a semi-confident look in her eyes. "Yume, do you think you could help me dress?" She asked Yume nodded and walked over to Hinata smiling gently, this is what her mother wanted, and it was her duty to help.