Author: RhiannonoftheMoon PM
COMPLETE Be careful what you wish for: wise advice for a hanyou who can’t make up his mind and may end up loosing it all. Or maybe it’s Kagome’s turn to choose? Rated for adult situations, violence and language.Rated: Fiction M - English - Romance/Angst - Sesshomaru & Kagome H. - Chapters: 15 - Words: 66,643 - Reviews: 291 - Favs: 370 - Follows: 86 - Updated: 02-18-06 - Published: 11-13-05 - Status: Complete - id: 2658509
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
A/N: I don't know if this plot line has been done before. I haven't seen it, but considering that there are over 53000 IY fanfics posted on FFnet, there is a very good chance it has been done several times. So, no yelling required.
It's also inspired by some of the frustration I've had with the last few episodes of IY. You might even recognize some of the imagery. (Spoiler warning: if you haven't seen the episodes aired in November '05, skip the rest of this paragraph). Seriously, Kikyou has been dead for 50 years and everyone's like, "Oh no! Kikyou's been killed!" She was already fucking dead! I wanted to smack Inuyasha silly. I'll save the spankings for his brother. Hee hee. (End of warning)
It's just a bit of fun, folks. Hope you enjoy.
Disclaimer: I do not own any character created by Rumiko Takahashi.
Chapter1 – Wish Gone Wrong
Kagome stared at the completed Shikon no Tama in her hand, the purified power within swirling just under its crystalline surface. To think they had come so far, suffered so much, for such an insignificant thing. And she had suffered the least of them.
She raised her eyes to Sango's straight back, the light of the campfire throwing dancing shadows around her though the proud taijiya did not move. Head held high, her thick, black ponytail tossed by the wind, she was staring into the night, silently mourning the passing of her younger brother Kohaku. He had died one month ago at the hands of Naraku, who had ripped the jewel shard out of his back in a desperate attempt to save his own miserable life. Her tears had long since dried, but each night, she took a moment to remember him and her fallen kinsmen.
Miroku moaned softly in his sleep as he struggled against the effects of the poisonous insects that he'd sucked into the void in his hand. The wind tunnel was now closed, but the toxins had given him a fever and chills wracked his lean frame. Kagome had done what she could for him; now she had to wait for the antidote to take effect. She hoped he lived to enjoy his life now that the curse of Naraku had been broken.
Shippo stirred in her lap, his fluffy red hair and tail the only parts she could see of the little kit who had curled against her stomach. A full-blooded fox demon child, she had adopted him as her own son and loved him as such. He'd lost his parents to the Thunder Brothers, who had killed them for a shard of the jewel she now held in her hand.
The only member of their little band of shard hunter that was missing was Inuyasha, the half-dog demon she'd been in love with for the past four years. But instead of remaining with them after their victory over their vanquished foe, he was off searching for his lover, Kikyou. She had been injured during the fight and disappeared after the battle had ended. Once the hanyou had been sure Kagome was relatively unhurt, he'd rushed after her. That had been the most painful wound of the battle.
The one person that Kagome wouldn't have minded seeing out of their lives for good, she admitted to herself with a pang of guilt, other than Naraku himself, was still alive…okay, undead. Fifty-four years ago, Naraku had tricked Kikyou and Inuyasha into betraying each other over this very jewel, and fifty-four years ago she had sealed him to a tree and died. Four years ago, Kagome had unsealed him and Kikyou had been brought back to undeath in a clay body by the magic of the witch Urusae. Kikyou had claimed Inuyasha's life as her own, intending to take him back to hell with her, and Inuyasha seemed willing enough to follow her.
So much suffering.
And Kagome? She hadn't had her family killed or cursed. She'd escaped with nothing more than a broken heart. The jewel was whole, Naraku dead, her errand complete, but Inuyasha was not hers and she doubted he ever would be. After all, she was his love's reincarnation, a pale echo of the woman he truly desired. She would give him the jewel so that he could make his wish and then she would return home through the Bone Eater's well, a time portal between modern day Tokyo and feudal Japan. There was nothing left to keep her in this era; she should go home to her own time. Nothing but her friends and adopted son…
Like a manifestation of her own thoughts, the hanyou stepped into the ring of firelight, the warmth of the flame licking over his silver hair and small, triangular ears. His golden eyes were cast down, refusing to meet her own. Closing her hand over the jewel, and she dropped her head hid her face with her black bangs. She knew he could smell her tears, but she didn't want him to see them.
"What the hell are you still doing here?" Inuyasha grouched at the one of the four people around the fire who was not a part of their group. Sesshomaru, his full demon half-brother, ignored him, continuing to stare at a point in space that none other could see. As beautiful as he was deadly, with a mane of impossibly long, silver hair and golden eyes he was a contrast of effeminate grace and masculine presence. He sat at ease on a log, one knee bent and the other straightened before him, with his right, and only, arm resting on his knee.
"How dare you insult my Lord with your filthy words!" Jaken hopped to his feet and squawked in a shrill voice, his two-foot green body gyrating in indignation.
"That's enough, Jaken," Sesshomaru said quietly when Rin stirred in her sleep. The child had been resurrected by Sesshomaru and now followed him like a puppy. Though the demon lord seemed indifferent and compassionless, he protected her fiercely.
Inuyasha levered a glower at the imp, then turned back to his brother. "Don't you have something better to do than hang around with us?"
"Such as searching for dead women in the middle of the night? You are a fool, Inuyasha." Sesshomaru did not honor the hanyou with a glance, nor did he understand his brother's obsession with mortal women, a trait passed down from their father, perhaps, or maybe his only choice because no self-respecting demon bitch would have him. Still, he had this lovesick woman-child following him around and watching him with sad eyes while he chased the tail of an undead creature who could not bear him pups. It was obvious from her scent that she was nothing more than graveyard soil and old bones, while the other one was very much alive… and crying…again.
Her tears disturbed him, the harsh smell of salt out of place in these quiet woods. They were a sign of weakness to a youkai, but the girl was not weak as most of her peers. He'd known her in passing for the last four years, but it had been as enemies. Not a typical human, she had stood up to him fearlessly on more than one occasion, ruining his armor and defending his brother with a temerity that had captured his attention like no other human had, save for Rin. Over the years, he'd begun to recognize her as the source of Inuyasha's growing strength, though he doubted his idiot brother realized it.
He was not with the group by choice; he had been tracking Naraku himself and his group converged with that of his half-brother's when they confronted the evil hanyou. A coincidence, perhaps, but their combined strength had finally felled their enemy. The only reason he was still with them was because Ah-Un had been severely injured in the fight. Rin had been heartbroken, so instead of putting the two-headed dragon out of its misery, he had allowed the miko to treat it. The fact that she had offered to help, and then nursed it with the skill of a healer, had momentarily surprised him. The dragon was now resting with Rin curled up by its side.
"Shut the fuck up. You don't know anything," Inuyasha snapped, his cheeks heating with guilt. He knew what he was doing to Kagome, that every time he went after Kikyou, her deep brown eyes would get a little more miserable. He'd listened to her cry herself to sleep on more than one occasion when she thought he was still out looking for his first love. He hated himself for hurting her and was terribly afraid that one day, she might not forgive him, but couldn't resist seeing Kikyo. And that was all it was, he simply had to see her, sometimes hold her, but it was a betrayal of Kagome nonetheless.
"I know you are a worthless half-breed and an idiot."
"Yeah? Well why don't you tell that to my Tetsusaiga," he drew his sword with a flourish, brandishing the rusty blade as it transformed into an enormous fang. It was the only thing he had on his brother, the fact that he possessed their father's sword of destruction and Sesshomaru did not.
"Osuwari," Kagome spoke softly, her eyes still fixed on her fingers wrapped around the jewel. With a startled yelp, Inuyasha crashed to the ground, dragged down by the enchanted rosary around his neck.
"Kagome!" he protested, glad to have an excuse to be angry with her. It was better than the crushing feeling of guilt that had been plaguing him. When the spell released him, he picked himself up off the ground and sheathed his sword, sending a seething glare at his brother. He meant to send one to Kagome as well, but she wasn't looking at him. The anger faded and his ears drooped. Shoulders slumping in defeat, he slouched over to her and seated himself by her side.
"Kagome," he started, but was cut off by a wave of her hand.
"It's okay, I understand." She opened her hand, revealing the pink orb in her palm. "It's yours now." She took his hand and turned it over, rolling the jewel onto his palm.
One wish, just for him.
He stared at the Shikon no Tama, feeling its power radiating through his skin. For as long as he could remember, he had wanted to become a full demon. Did he still want that? He didn't know; the few times he'd transformed into a full demon, he had almost lost himself to bloodlust. Would Kagome stay with him now that the quest was over? Would it even be fair to ask it of her? He didn't know that, either. His heart was torn between two women who shared the same soul. Once, he had mistaken them for the same person; how wrong he had been. "I…you should keep it until we get back to the well," he said, but let it sit in his palm.
Kagome nodded, the pain in her chest constricting her breath. He expected her to go home. And why wouldn't he? She'd just be in the way of his relationship with Kikyou. She wrapped an arm around Shippo's slumbering form, holding him close against her stomach. He burrowed into her warmth, curling his fingers into her white blouse.
"That wish is wasted on one such as you. It should be given to one more deserving of its power," Sesshomaru said apathetically, as if discussing the weather.
"Someone like you, right? Fat fucking chance."
"I did not say that."
Inuyasha snorted, fisting his hand around the jewel. "Bastard. I wish our places were reversed; then you'd understand."
As soon as the words had tumbled over his lips, pink light streamed out from between his closed fingers. The light engulfed him, and then reached with cold fingers to take hold of Sesshomaru. Blinded by the brightness of the Shikon's magic, the humans could only shield their eyes with raised arms. Shippo whimpered quietly against her, turning his head away from the light, but did not wake.
Gradually, the light faded away, leaving two stunned brothers staring at each other across the campfire. Inuyasha saw himself as if he was looking in a mirror, but he knew that was impossible. He had been next to Kagome a moment ago, and he was still there… but it wasn't him! His mind reeled in confusion. If he wasn't him, then who was he? The impassive expression and slight narrowing of the other's eyes sent a chill through his body, raising his hackles: he knew that look. And he knew who he was.
"Inuyasha?" Kagome asked, placing her hand on his red clad arm and staring up into his face.
His silver ears rotated toward her and his amber eyes lowered, fixing her with an icy stare. "Remove your hand from this Sesshomaru."
Kagome gasped and snatched her hand away as if it had been burnt. It was Inuyasha's face, his body, but it was not his soul staring at her from those pools of gold. Jaken uttered a strangled cry and fell backward in a dead faint.
"Kagome, I'm over here," Inuyasha said shakily, not liking how close she was to his brother: his brother, who was wearing his body. Clumsily, not used to his increased height or the loss of an arm, Inuyasha stumbled around the fire. The smell of her fear, the sound of her heart hammering in her chest permeated the air, and she trembled slightly as she leaned away from him. His heightened senses told him that she was afraid of him and he fought against the instincts that urged him to press his advantage; that the female should submit to his will.
"It's me, Kagome," he captured one of her hands in his, holding it awkwardly in unfamiliar claws. She flinched, instinctively scooting closer to his brother, who stared at her with distaste.
"Inuyasha, what have you done?" she whispered, extending hesitant fingers to touch the crescent moon crest on his forehead.
Sesshomaru resisted the urge to rub the place on his arm that still tingled from her touch. His heart had lurched in chest when she'd placed her warm fingers on his arm. For a moment, his entire attention had been fixed on the dark-eyed female who gazed up at him with such concern, and then he distanced himself from the confusion caused by his body's responses. Was this the curse of human blood, this uncontrollable flux of emotion and instinct? Sesshomaru had maintained a tight grasp over his youkai blood. It was apparent that Inuyasha could not.
"The fool has made his wish," Sesshomaru stated, opening the hand that clutched the Shikon no Tama. Transparent and empty, it lay in his palm like a sphere of polished quartz. He tipped his hand, letting the thing roll out and onto the ground. Sesshomaru felt his ears rotate to follow the small tinkle as it hit the dirt; hanyou ears, now his ears.
Black rage exploded from the pit of his stomach, strangling coherent thought. He drew back his fist and slammed it into face of the demon in front of him, snarling in satisfaction as he felt bones crunch under his knuckles. Before his brother could recover, he followed with another punch under the jaw, snapping Inuyasha's head back and knocking him backward onto the ground.
Scrambling in the dirt and falling when he tried to put weight on an arm that didn't exist, Inuyasha snarled back, the pain in his face evaporating as he felt his face elongate. This cold fury him was nothing like the blind wrath that gripped him in his hanyou body.
"Osuwari! Osuwari!" Kagome screamed shrilly and stood, frantic to break up the rapidly escalating fight, Shippo clinging to her shirt and yowling in protest. Sesshomaru's neck was yanked down by an irresistible force and hit the dirt with a painful thump, the rage evaporating into shock. Again, he was slammed into the ground, unable to fight it.
"Hiraikotsu!" Sango sent her bone boomerang into the demon lord who was transforming as she watched. She understood that it was Inuyasha, but too many battles had shaped her instincts, and the boomerang was out of her hand before she could think. It hit him in the stomach and pinned him against a tree.
"Stop it, you two! This isn't going to solve anything!" Kagome snatched the jewel from the ground, holding it so tightly that her fingernails bit into her skin. "You'll be hurting your own bodies."
Blinking sleepily, Rin glanced between the tall, graceful demon against the tree and dog-eared one on the ground. "My lord?" she asked, approaching fearlessly and peering up at Inuyasha.
"I ain't your lord, runt," he pushed the boomerang off of him, freeing himself and warily eyeing his brother, who was fuming in the humiliating position in which he was kept. "And this wasn't my wish. I wanted to be a full demon, not a jackass."
Kagome made a frustrated noise in the back of her throat. "Inuyasha no baka! This was your wish and now the jewel is dead." She paled and sat heavily next to Sesshomaru's prone form. "The well…"
"No! You never think, do you? You've squandered you wish and the now well is probably closed!" She burst into tears, burying her face in her hands.
"Don't cry, Kagome." Horrified at his own stupidity and Kagome's sobs, he tried to touch her shoulder.
She batted his hand away. "Don't touch me, Inuyasha! Osuwari!"
The air was knocked out of him as Sesshomaru hit the ground hard, a small crater forming around his body. Growling, he rolled his eyes to glare up at the hysterical human. She had yet to realize her mistake and he made a mental note to somehow rectify this situation. He was Sesshomaru, Lord of the Western Lands, and a human female would not subdue him.
Inuyasha winced and backed away, almost wishing it were he on the ground. More than any other time he could remember, he deserved a good sitting. "I didn't mean-"
"Osuwari!" she yelled in his face, balling her fists. He simply stood there, a stricken look on his face.
"Stop that at once, wench!" Sesshomaru snarled from the ground, his voice muffled.
Kagome blinked several times, then looked down at the demon lord turned hanyou. "Oh, I'm so sorry, Sesshomaru-sama."
Inuyasha's jaw dropped. "Don't apologize to him!" The comical look of outrage was out of place on those elegant features.
Miroku opened his eyes and propped himself on an elbow. "Am I seeing what I think I'm seeing? Did she just call Inuyasha Sesshomaru?" he asked the demon slayer standing next to him watching the scene with wide, disbelieving eyes.
"Houshi-sama, you sleep like the dead. Inuyasha accidentally wished on the jewel, and now he and Sesshomaru have…well…" she waved a hand at Sesshomaru the hanyou, who had reclaimed his seat on the log, his indifferent expression belied by the twitching of his silver ears. Inuyasha, the youkai, sat several feet from Kagome, hands planted on the ground between his feet, knees splayed apart.
He dropped backward onto his sleeping roll with a big sigh. "I've always said he was dense. What is our next move?" Sango just shook her head, completely at a loss.
The wind hissed through the long, brown, dry grasses and tossed her hair into her face. She tucked the unruly strands behind her ears, and then pulled an arrow from her quiver. Her eyes searched the field for the jewel shards she knew were there; though injured, Naraku's evil aura permeated the air.
A patch of grass suddenly flattened, then moved parallel to her position, catching her eye. Squinting against the afternoon sun, she thought she saw a glimmer of pink…yes! There they were! She shouted to her friends and pointed to the waving grass, notching an arrow and releasing it in one fluid movement. The arrow flew true, arching over the field in a corona of purification.
A gray-green tentacle shot out of the grass and knocked the arrow aside, but not without sustaining damage. The tip burst off, pulpy and wet, then fell into the grass, smoking with foul, purple miasma. More tentacles erupted from the prairie, snaking toward her. Hiraikotsu spun through the air, cutting through two tentacles at once and returning to its mistress.
Something slimy wrapped around her ankle and wrenched her off her feet, hitting the ground hard on her stomach. She screamed as she was dragged toward the hub of those writhing fingers of flesh, her bow forgotten in the grass.
"Inuyasha!" she cried, her fingers scrambling for purchase in the dry soil. Blades of grass slipped through her clenched fists, slicing through the soft skin of her palms as she was pulled inexorably closer to the monstrosity, and Inuyasha did not come.
"Inuyasha!" Her throat burned with the force of her scream. Another tentacle wound around her other leg, squeezing her calf. She shuddered with revulsion and kicked frantically, trying to dislodge the slimy thing. It tightened its grip, sliding further up her leg.
A heavy gust of wind bent the grass and she was able to see her friends: Sango cradling Miroku who lay sprawled in the grass, already in the grips of the saimyoushou poison, Inuyasha scenting the air, then running after Kikyou, Rin wailing as the dragon thrashed and bled.
"No, Inuyasha! I'm over here!" she extended her arm toward his retreating back, fingers grasping at the empty air. The breath was squeezed out of her as a tentacle wrapped her chest, twining around her neck to cover her mouth. Choking on the bitter taste of slime, her panicked eyes watched him disappear into the forest without a backward glance.
Kagome sat up fast, gagging and coughing as she struggled to breath, sweat drenching her body. It's okay, Kagome, you were only dreaming," Shippo whispered to her, clinging to her clammy neck. He'd almost woken her when she'd begun to toss in her sleep; now he wished he had.
She pressed a hand against her pounding heart, panting slightly. Of course it was a dream; that wasn't how it had happened. Inuyasha had rescued her after that first tentacle had grabbed her ankle. He'd lopped off the end of the tentacle, showering them both with purple ichor, then gathered her into his arms and leapt away from the fray. That had only been the beginning, and he hadn't left her until after the battle.
Glancing around the campsite, she searched for the hanyou in question, sighing in relief when she found him lounging on a log and staring into space, his red haori and hakama a beacon in the darkness. The waning moon glinted off of his cascade of silver hair and triangular ears. Feeling her stare, his golden, expressionless eyes slid toward her and she gasped. Not Inuyasha…
She dropped her head quickly and slouched back into her sleeping bag, trying to get comfortable in her damp clothing. Shippo's warm body helped stop her shivering, but didn't touch the frost on her heart. Inuyasha was not at camp, which probably meant that he'd gone looking for Kikyou again.
Sesshomaru listened to the rhythm of the girl's breathing slow as she slipped in slumber. He found it interesting that she feared him more in this body of his brother's than in his own. But she had woken up scared, reeking of human fluids. Such vile, messy creatures, human were. Always something disgusting either going in or coming out of them. Irritation rose in a swell and a frown settled on his face. Though a half-breed, his brother's nose worked passably well. How could he stand the company of three of these filthy creatures?
He smoothed his features when he realized that he'd allowed his emotions to show on his face. Yes, the great taiyoukai had emotions, but it was weakness that prompted others to display each thought and emotion on their faces and bodies. He knew he had a reputation for being cold-hearted and indifferent; had carefully fostered that image with years of discipline and an iron will. Give the enemy no more information that was absolutely necessary and maintain the advantage of surprise; it had served him well for centuries. Lord Sesshomaru kept his thoughts and his council to himself.
However, he could not seem to exercise that control over this half-human body. It almost seemed to have a mind of its own, prompting him to do things he would never, in his right mind, had have done. He clenched his fist, remembering the rage that overwhelmed him and the satisfaction of feeling his knuckles smashing into his brother's face. Such behavior was undignified, utterly beneath him. To think that he, Sesshomaru, had started a fistfight when the great Tetsusaiga had been sheathed at his hip.
Reflexively, his eyes crept to his father's mighty fang lying next to Tenseiga and Tokijin. Inuyasha had not been pleased when he'd realized that he could no longer wield his sword. Kagome had insisted that they remove their swords before another fight broke out and they'd agreed; Sesshomaru because he had yet to figure a way out of Kagome's subduing spell and Inuyasha because he didn't like seeing his brother posses Tetsusaiga.
Sesshomaru had desired the sword since he'd learned of its power, sure that his father would bequeath it to his heir. When the old dog had died and left it to his younger son, Sesshomaru had been furious and refused to accept his father's will. The sword had been enchanted to prevent full demons from using it, but better it be useless and in his hands than used by Inuyasha.
Which begged the question: why had he not yet killed his half-brother? He had tried several on several occasions, but each time, he had stopped for one reason or another. He would not admit to defeat in any of their battles, though it may have seemed like he had been beaten to others. The time had simply not been right, he decided with a small nod. Though after this complete and utter foul-up, all thanks to the carelessness of his sibling, his hands itched to pulverize him. Now he was forced to stay with the group until they figured how to undo this spell. Returning to his lands in this condition was out of the question. He had wanted Tetsusaiga, but certainly not like this.
His eyes strayed to the sleeping miko before he could stop them. What was it that she saw in Inuyasha? The image rose in his mind of the girl, huddled over his brother with tears in her eyes, shielding him with her own body. And Inuyasha repaid her loyalty by sneaking off after the undead woman when she had fallen asleep. Sesshomaru didn't care; it wasn't his problem. His brother was a beast, and beasts had no honor.
Except that now he was the beast.
"Stop where you are, demon!" Kikyou's stern voice halted him in his tracks. He felt her aura flare and his own strengthen in response to the challenge by an enemy power. With a struggle, he withdrew his youkai, trying to seem non-threatening to the priestess through the trees. He had been so excited when he'd finally found her scent on the wind that he'd momentarily forgotten that she probably wouldn't recognize him.
"Kikyou, it's Inuyasha," he called softly, still not used to the velvety sound of his voice.
"You lie. I sense the aura of a full youkai, not a hanyou."
"Listen to me, Kikyou," he stepped from the screen of trees, and then dodged to the side quickly as an arrow hit the tree next to his face. "Kikyou…" he whispered as he finally caught sight of her. Standing straight and proud under an enormous oak tree, she notched another arrow to her bow. If it were not for the injury on her shoulder that leaked magical essence and the musty odor of clay and bones, he could have sworn it was the same woman with whom he had fallen in love. 'It is the same woman,' he insisted to himself. 'She may have changed a little, but she's still my Kikyou!'
The pale, eerie light of her soul collectors glimmered around her, lighting the depths of her narrowed eyes. Twining around her with serpentine tails, each one paused over her injury and glowed briefly before moving on. Ever so slowly, her injury was knitting.
Her fingers tightened on the fletching of the arrow and Inuyasha shook himself out of his reverie. "You have to believe me, it's Inuyasha."
"How can this be?" Kikyou held the bow steady; now that she had seen the look in his eyes, she thought that maybe it was he after all, but he was also a demon and could not be trusted. She had seen this demon before, fighting against Inuyasha… her eyes roved over the moon on his forehead, magenta stripes on his cheeks. Sesshomaru, Lord of the Western Lands.
"There was an accident with the jewel…" he trailed off as Kikyou's eyes lit with understanding and she lowered the bow, dropping the arrow into the quiver on her back.
"The Shikon no Tama should never have been entrusted to my reincarnation," she said scathingly. "She is not powerful enough to keep it safe."
"It wasn't Kagome's fault! It was mine," he admitted, averting his gaze from her piercing eyes.
"As I said, she could not handle the responsibility, so now you reside in your half-brother's body. And the jewel?"
"It's just a dead rock, now."
She nodded once. "Why are you here, Inuyasha?"
His head snapped up. "You were injured during the battle and I thought-"
"I do not need your protection."
He took several quick steps forward, using his demon speed to reach her before she could protest and wrapped his arm around her, crushing her to his chest. She stiffened at first but could do nothing in that iron embrace, then relaxed against him and closed her eyes, feeling Inuyasha's soul through the unfamiliar body. How she missed his companionship, their conversations, the afternoons they would spend wandering the fields, Inuyasha trailing her and always on guard. All that was lost, wasn't it?
No matter what she did, Inuyasha always came back to her, despite his affection for her reincarnation. She had claimed his life as her own, and he had claimed hers in return, but she no longer wanted to drag him to hell. She had learned to exist as an undead creature but still desired to live the life as a normal woman. 'Well,' she corrected herself, 'I would rather not toil in the dirt with the peasant women of the village. Physical labor does not suit me.'
Her eyes popped open as a realization struck her. Inuyasha had said that the jewel was now nothing more than a rock, which meant that it had not been purified or destroyed. Could it be that she could gain an advantage from this situation? She hardly dared hope, but the glimmer that kindled in her heart refused to be smothered.