A/N: The numbers are footnotes and correspond to the numbers at the bottom of the page. Sorry for any inconvenience caused :)

The wooden floorboards of Shirasagijou[1] whispered at her gentle touch and she froze, dagger gleaming in her slender fingers. Holding her breath, she shifted her pointed toes to the left and slowly placed her foot on the ground. The floor seemed to sigh and she breathed out in relief, easing her body one step closer to her goal.

At all costs, the floor could not sing.

The shogun[2]'s bedchambers lay at the end of the notorious floor, the sea of planks responsible for the death of many people before her. Who was she to try against its strength?

Moonlight filtered through the barred windows, casting her shadow across the lengths of the room. The white walls of the castle seemed to glow where touched by the moonlight, illuminating a painting of a ferocious golden dragon. Shuddering at its intense glare, she averted her eyes and pressed on.

In the shadow of the night, she had barely slipped past the sentry outside the screen paper doors. They were samurai[3], the much loathed, arrogant upper class. She was lucky her lightness of foot had carried her thus far. One miscalculated step would result in a sound from the floor, an alarm to all who would hear that an intruder was present. Then the samurai would come, katana[4] drawn, emerging from darkness and her lithe body would do nothing to save her.

Not all samurai were hateful. Kando-sama[5] told her she had the inborn gift of grace and balance. A smile curved her lips as she remembered his opposition to what she was doing.

"Nobody can cross the nightingale floor. The daimyo [6] knows you can't do this, he wants you to die." He stood, surrounded by green serenity, adamant in his belief.

Her head was bowed as she spoke to the still lake at her feet, "You do not know I cannot do this."

"Emiko," he said her name, cupping her chin.

"Please, don't.' She flinched at his touch. Kando Shigeo of the samurai class was an excellent warrior. He followed the laws of Bushido[7] to exactness. Now he stood in front of her, a mere arms length away- hair in a topknot, katana at his side and a faint smile on his mouth, next to a blooming cherry blossom tree. Their seclusion was no excuse for his intimacy.

'How can someone like you even stand to touch someone like me?' she asked.

"Someone beautiful and caring?" his white teeth grinned at her.

"Someone indentured." She turned away.

His grin faded. 'I care not about class. It is my heart that is important." He pressed her hand against the professed organ. "If you were to accept my hand in marriage then a samurai family could adopt you and then we could marry."

"That only works for peasants. I am a servant; it is punishable by law to be standing straight in your presence. As I am, I can do nothing. That is why I have to do this.' She bowed, 'I'm sorry," and turned to leave but he grabbed her hand and pulled her back.

"You could die," he whispered, becoming very still.

"I have to try," she whispered back. "I can't afford to not take this chance at freedom."

"The daimyo is an evil man. He purposely offered you the one thing he knew you would not be able to refuse, no matter the cost." He pulled her into his arms.

"Maybe so," she conceded, voice muffled by his robe. Detaching herself, she looked at him. "I cannot wait for my life of servitude to be lifted from me. I won't wait for the storm to pass; I'll dance in rain."

"Like the first time I met you." Kando Shigeo smiled, remembering the small figure in the pouring rain. She twisted and turned to the music of the elements, the rain shaping her clothes to her body and dampening her long dark hair. In that moment, class did not matter. Expectations and punishment did not matter. She was beautiful.

He drew a dagger from its sheath and pressed it to her. 'Emiko, you cannot die. If anyone can walk the nightingale floor, it will be you."

His last words to her echoed in her mind and she shook her head, dispelling her thoughts. She clutched his dagger tighter and took a deliberate step forward. This morning, the daimyo had been pleased to hear of her agreement to take part in his plot. If she succeeded in her part, the shogun would be eliminated and her daimyo, as the next in line of the Akamura Clan[8], would rule. If she beat all odds, she would win her freedom.

She stepped again, crouching low, trying to evenly distribute her weight onto the floor. The shogun was a paper sliding door away. So near to her goal, she hardly dared to breathe as she slid it open.

There the shogun lay. The ruler of the castle, leader of the Akamura Clan, hands clasped at his peacefully moving chest, eyelids shut. Her feet touched the tatami[9] flooring and made their way to where he lay, sleeping on a futon[10]. She raised the dagger, poised to kill when his eyes abruptly opened, intelligent and alert. Her eyes widened and for a moment their eyes locked. He saw his assassin, still blooming with youth and beauty, holding a cold dagger to his neck. She saw an old man, his gaze holding no intention of stopping her.

She pressed the dagger harder and the blade punctured his skin. Still, he continued to watch, not lifting a finger as blood trickled down his neck. Her breath constricted her throat; her heart pounded in her ears and suddenly, the hilt of the dagger felt slippery with sweat. He saw the fear in her eyes and wondered what cruelty would possess someone to send but a child to do a man's job.

Her grip on the dagger loosened and then failed her completely. The dagger fell to the ground, a loud thud resonating as it stabbed the futon. Snapping out of her reverie, she realised what she had failed to do.

He sat up and samurai slipped into the room, surrounding her. With a motion of his hand, he directed the samurai to take her. They obeyed. Struggling wildly she fought in vain. The daimyo would not forgive her for being captured and she knew stories of the horror that awaited those accused of treason.

The shogun turned his expressionless face to the wildly sobbing girl. This girl had managed to cross his nightingale floor he noted with a degree of respect. Holding out his palm, he stopped the samurai from leaving. The struggle ceased and she breathed loudly. He walked towards her and presented her the dagger she had dropped, palm outstretched.

Her breathing quietened. Words she had spoken a lifetime ago ran through her mind. She understood the chance he had given her. Taking the dagger, she plunged it into her stomach and swept it to the side.[11] Dropping to the floor, she noticed the carefully closed face of Kando Shigeo, discomposure only evident in his eyes. She forced herself to smile, one last time for the person she loved before closing her eyes to never open them again.

[1] Japanese castle- meaning "white heron castle"

[2] The title for a ruler of Shogunate Japan, meaning "commander" or "troops"

[3] A member of the hereditary warrior class of feudal Japan

[4] Japanese sword

[5] Japanese honorific spoken to show respect to those above you

[6] A feudal lord in Shogunate Japan, c. 10th century to 19th century

[7] roughly translated as "the way of the warrior," is a Japanese code of conduct and way of samurai life

[8] Clan in charge of Himeji Castle during the Shogunate period of Japan

[9] traditional type of Japanese flooring traditionally made of rice straw

[10] traditional style of Japanese bedding consisting of padded mattresses and quilts

[11] Seppuku literally "stomach cutting" was part of the Japanese Bushido and was used by samurai when shame dictated they do so, as well as to avoid torture for information or mainly, to die with honour rather than be captured by enemies

A/N: So the task for this short story was to write something, following a prompt, and set it in a particular context with the ideas and values embedded into the story.

So let's ignore the fact it was school work! How was it as a story? :)

Feedback is REALLY appreciated!