Blind Stitch my Heart
Part 1 – "Our Beginnings, Our Ends"
Written by: profiler120
Rating: PG-13 (rating is probably higher than necessary)
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com
Author's Notes: I haven't determined either the time period or the setting for this story. But it is after 1846 because Kagome is using a sewing machine, not hand stitching. But it's important to note, it's not written to any faithful historical time period. It's an AU if you haven't determined that already. ^_^
It's important to note that I used the same surname "Masaharu" for this story as in my other story "Clumsy." When it's written "Masaharu-san," or the "Master" it means Sesshoumaru, not Inutaisho. Inutaisho will be mentioned only in passing, if at all. I just wanted to clear it up beforehand.
It just occurred to me that human Inuyasha doesn't have gold eyes and white hair, can you believe that? I wrote him all wrong for "Clumsy"! Oh well, I'm going with the same description here, (white hair, gold eyes) because it makes this family exotic.
[Revised: May 13, 2003 - minor grammatical errors.]
She groaned, releasing her foot from the pedal and stopping the rapid, neat stitching of the sewing machine.
"Higurashi-san!" The shrill female voice called again.
She sighed and made her way to the open door and peered about. The hall was grand and open; she walked to the delicately carved wood railing and glanced down.
"Ah! There you are Higurashi-san. Have you seen Sango? She has work to be doing in the kitchen,"
"No, I'm sorry I haven't." She replied.
"Very well, please tell her to come down if you her, won't you?"
The old woman waddled back into the kitchen and out of sight. Kagome smiled to herself as she turned back to the sewing room in which she was working. She stretched before sitting back down in her chair and began working again on the elaborate clothing she was preparing for her employer.
She was the current seamstress employed by the Masaharu Estate. She was technically directly under the power of the owner of the estate, Masaharu Sesshoumaru, but he was very rarely seen. Rather she received letters detailing the clothing he wanted made. Arrangements were made for all the necessary materials to be bought and when the clothes were finished, always within a tight deadline, they were sent to him and she never saw the finished result on the man himself.
She was also responsible for the clothing of the staff of the Masaharu Estate. That included Kaede- the housekeeper, Sango- Kaede's young assistant, Rin- the Master's young ward, and Inuyasha- the Master's younger brother. Along with anyone else he deemed an order for although the young master was not known for generosity.
A perfect example of his callousness was Rin. She was the daughter of his deceased sister and had been given to him to care for since he was better off in means than the also dead husband's family. She heard about it from Sango, an orphan from a nearby town that worked on the estate because it provided a home and safety. When his sister and her husband died they had left the girl to the care of Masaharu. He had arranged for her to be brought to the Estate, along with her things, arranged for a tutor without once ever seeing the girl.
No, little Rin was allowed run of the estate with only her live-in teacher to keep watch of her, and more often than not, she didn't. The Master visited the Estate, his ancestral home, maybe once or twice a year, as he preferred a smaller residence farther away from town. Apparently, he didn't like the noise, or the visitors.
She repressed the scowl as she released her foot from the pedal, reaching the edge of the material. She pulled it back from the machine cutting the silken black threads before tying them off securely. She held it up for inspection. Stitching together kimonos was one of her easier projects. This one was for Rin. It was a beautiful white and pink patterned kimono checkered with cherry blossoms. It was to be a gift for the girl although she was certain her benevolent employer had no plans to give it to her himself.
She looked up when a light tapping came upon the door. Sango was standing with a small smile.
"Hello," Kagome greeted her.
Perhaps of all Masaharu's employees, she herself was the best off. She'd come from a reasonably well off family, although they paled in comparison to the house of Masaharu. She had chosen to be a seamstress after her mother. After the death of her father, her mother had begun sewing more fervently and had insisted that Kagome learn the trade as well. After which she'd ended up here, sewing for him. She wasn't bitter about it though.
Being away from her mother and younger brother was unpleasant and sometimes terribly lonely but she made out okay.
"You need something Sango?"
"I was supposed to bring you this,"
She lifted the bolt of fabric in her arms. It was white, which usually meant it was something for the Master himself. On top of the pile was a letter, which meant she had a new order. She set aside the back section of the kimono and took the things from Sango.
"Oh, more clothes. You wouldn't think a seamstress would have this much to do,"
Sango smiled. "You're lucky to have the job you have Kagome. Besides the Master must really like your work because this is the longest we've ever had the same seamstress. You've been here a year now, haven't you?"
Kagome nodded in agreement. "That sounds right."
Sango sighed wistfully. "I should get back before Kaede begins calling again. See you later,"
Kagome quickly perused the contents of the letter written in the Master's fine hand. It seemed simple enough, albeit odd. The order was for a woman's kimono, a rather elaborate one. She'd never done anything quite on the scale of what he was asking, but she had no choice but to give it her all. He hadn't however included the woman's measurements. He'd sent only one bolt of material to start, others, he noted would be provided when they were necessary, as they would be. How was she to make something without knowing how big or little she was?
Facing termination was a daily threat hung over the heads of all Masaharu's employees, even if he wasn't there to issue them.
She set the things aside. She should be able to complete the kimono for Rin by today, and start the kimono for the mystery woman later tonight or early tomorrow. Thusly, she began her work again
Kagome bristled as the younger brother of her employer perched himself arrogantly in the doorway of the sewing room. He leaned against the frame of the sliding door, scowling as though her very appearance was an offense to him.
"Yes Inuyasha-sama? Can I help you?" she forced herself to choke the words out.
"You still here? I thought you'd be gone by now." He snorted.
"Really? Why's that?" She turned her attention to her work, lowering the pinned material pieces under the pressing foot before snapping it down securely.
"Eh, Sesshoumaru doesn't have much patience for incompetence,"
She looked up glaring. "Are you saying I can't sew?" Her voice was low, but not necessarily threatening if you didn't know the temper of Higurashi Kagome.
He crossed his arms arrogantly, in the fashion that often made her scowl. "You're all right, but not great or anything. At least until he finds someone better,"
"Is there something I can do for you, or were you looking for entertainment?" She snapped. "I have work to be doing,"
"Keh! It's going to snow- I need something warmer."
He turned to go.
"Uh, wait!" She called back. "What exactly do you want?"
He waved a hand absently. "Whatever just make something. I need it by the end of the week."
She sighed. There was so much to do, if anyone needed an assistant, it was she. There was always someone that needed something.
"Okay," she agreed reluctantly. Rin first, Sesshoumaru second and unfortunately or not Inuyasha was last.
She returned to the pink silk under her sewing needle. Once she finished this line of stitches it would be just short of complete. She'd need to finish the edging of the sleeves, attach the band that went around the neck to the bottom of the kimono and hem the bottom, and then it was finished.
Those tasks however would take a good deal of time because they were hand stitched together. Well, most of it was hand stitched; some could be done on the machine. She glanced toward the window; the sun was rapidly setting now. Dinner would be announced soon for Inuyasha who was likely to be dining with his guest Miroku, a local priest that had a penchant for groping women. Although he seemed to have a peculiar interest in Sango and often went out of his way to be alone with her. It would have been amusing if Sango didn't detest it.
As for how Inuyasha had become friends with a priest was a mystery to her. She didn't care enough to inquire. She would eat dinner after Inuyasha and his guest with the other employees in the back kitchen. She didn't mind the late dining time, you got used to it after a while, although she was quite hungry now.
She barely escaped grating her teeth in frustration. "Yes Inuyasha-sama?"
"My brother's coming home." Her eyes widened. "I thought you'd like to know."
When he moved to leave she stood clumsily, knocking her shears to the floor. "When you say 'coming home', you mean here right? How long exactly will he be staying? He usually doesn't come this time of year,"
He shrugged in that annoying fashion of his, turning his golden gaze upon her fully. The gold orbs darted around her figure appreciatively before he continued. He was given to doing things like that right before insulting her.
"He's bringing back some bitch he met, I don't know the details. Or... I do, but I didn't read them." he added as an afterthought.
"Really, I never met anyone so irresponsible," she muttered to herself.
"Anyway," he straightened. "They'll be here tomorrow,"
She hadn't much experience working under the heavy gaze of Masaharu-san. In all reality she hoped he wouldn't stay long although she reproved herself for thinking it. It was his house. She gathered her unnecessary tools and put them away before gathering her hand sewing supplies and finding a more comfortable chair. She'd be sitting in it for a few hours yet.
The heralding of dawn was a beautiful thing. She was up well before sunrise, an hour at least. The Master was arriving today, the phrase had repeated over and over in her head. Her sleep had been unsound and disturbed which may explain why she was up so early today. She washed and dressed quickly and left her room.
She was surprised when she almost collided with Kaede in the hall.
"Ah, you've risen early as well, Higurashi-san, that's good. The Master will be here soon," the old woman smiled as she hobbled down the stairs.
There was a cold chill settled over the house and she was glad she had slippers on her feet. She was adjusting the white ribbon holding back her ebony colored hair when one of the doors in the hall slid open rudely.
"What the hell is all this noise?" He snapped, his eyes glowing with irritation. His long white hair was tousled and his kimono was rumpled from sleep.
"Um... what noise?" She stopped to ask.
He turned his gaze sharply in her direction. "Heh, you're up early..."
"I'm sorry if I woke you, I couldn't sleep well and I have a new order from Masaharu-san so I thought I should start early. My apologies Inuyasha-sama,"
He blinked and she began to walk past his wide-open room.
"Hey," he called back and she paused and turned back obediently. "You're not really worried are you? About what I said yesterday..."
She looked up.
He scratched his head awkwardly. "I didn't mean it or anything. I mean, he's not coming back to fire you or anything like that."
She smiled weakly. "I was just... worried. Masaharu-san is... so... awkward to work around. He makes me very self-conscious about everything I sew. The two times I've seen him he never looked pleased and both times he complained that I could 'do better'."
"Keh! Sesshoumaru's a perfectionist. Just ignore him, I do."
She smiled brightly. "You are his brother, I work for him. If I ignore him, he'll terminate me."
He shifted and yawned. "Why do you work here anyway? You're not poor, you don't have to put up with my brother's attitude."
"My mother wants me to," she replied. "I couldn't tell her 'no'."
He nodded. "I'm going back to bed.... 'Night," he yawned again as he slid the door closed.
She smiled again to herself at his bidding her an informal goodnight' he did know it was morning, didn't he? She sighed and shook her head. He probably spent the night sipping sake with that priest, she thought as she proceeded onward to the sewing room at the far end of the hall.
It wasn't difficult to pinpoint the exact time of arrival of the Master. Everyone was scurrying about madly, and she could see Sango from the sewing room as she stood at the top of the stairs peering down anxiously, as though afraid to face him when he entered.
She was suddenly very glad that she wasn't expected to greet him upon his arrival with the others. She lifted her foot from the pedal to hear the first tones of his deep, melodious voice and then immediately began working again.
She was puzzeled as to whom the kimono was for and wondered if the Master would marry soon. It seemed so unlikely. Masaharu-san wasn't well liked by anyone she knew, but they didn't dare speak badly of him either. The thought of a woman actually 'loving' him was phenomenal. Although, if you looked at it reasonably the marriage probably had little to do with love and a lot to do with family tradition and planning and etc. After all that was usually the way things worked out. She scolded herself to stop thinking about something that may not be happening at all.
To determined to think nothing more of the matter until she heard the quick strides that were unfamiliar to her upon the stairs. Time for thought or preparation was pulled out from underneath her, as her employer appeared suddenly in the doorway that she kept open.
She stood hastily, dropping her box of pins that, thankfully, didn't spill all over the floor.
If there was any one thing she disliked about him was his gaze. It fell on her heavily, appraisingly as though there were always something that wasn't right or needed to be fixed.
So there he stood, adorned in one of his favorite white kimonos staring at her silently as though making an assessment. His hair, much longer than that of his brother fell loosely down his back and had a distinct silver tint to it. Both males however were adorned with the same golden eyes that marked their uniqueness to everyone else she'd ever met. It was an odd quality, but a beautiful one. There was no denying the beauty, should he not be offended by the feminine term, of her employer.
He possessed more grace and beauty than many women she knew, including her. But as she stood there, awkwardly contemplating his sudden appearance she feared what he'd say. He hadn't so much as breathed a word to her; he just stood there, staring at her in consideration.
"Higurashi-san, did you receive my letter?"
She nodded, and then remembered him scolding her for not giving audible answers and quickly added. "Yes,"
"Good, come with me,"
He spun quickly and walked away, and was down the stairs before she had scarcely left the room. She followed him down and found him standing in a room with Inuyasha, a woman whose back was turned toward her, and the priest friend of Inuyasha's.
"I don't recall inviting any of your friends Inuyasha," he commented primly.
"Convenient enough since he's not here to see you," Inuyasha replied quickly.
The tense stare down ended as Masaharu-san turned to her as though he'd known she was there all along when she'd been waiting but moments.
The woman turned then toward her and they were both visibly surprised.
"Kagome," the woman breathed.
"You know one another?" Masaharu inquired, noticeably displeased to be unaware of the connection between them.
It was Kikyo that answered. "Kagome and I are cousins,"
"Cousins?" He repeated and turned his gaze back to Kagome as he spoke to Kikyo. "I was not aware that the Yamada and Higurashi families were so close,"
Kikyo nodded. "Our mothers are sisters but we haven't seen much of each other. I hope you have been well Kagome,"
"Yes, I hope the same for you as well." Kagome replied.
Kagome glanced around as silence fell over the room. Inuyasha was standing with his priest friend by a set of sliding doors that led out onto a veranda and the enclosed garden beyond. He appeared smitten with Kikyo, much to her amusement.
"The kimono is for Yamada-san, I leave the matter to you."
With that, he turned and stalked out of the room, the look of discontentment still carved on his delicate features.
Kikyo stepped forward. "What are you doing here? Why are you working for Masaharu-sama? Has something happened to the Shrine?"
"No, mother thought it would be a good idea. Everything is fine at the shrine. Is your mother well?"
"She just recently recovered from being ill, but she is expected to recover fully."
"Oh. My best wishes for her health."
"Thank you Kagome,"
"Well, if now is convenient for you, perhaps I could get your measurements so I could begin your kimono?"
"That sounds nice."
They walked together to the stairs and up into the higher recesses of the house.
"I'm actually glad you're here. When father sent me, back with Masaharu-sama I was very nervous. I'm not looking forward to this trip."
"Father wants me to marry Masaharu,"
"Wow," Kagome breathed. "You're going to marry Masaharu-sama, wouldn't that be something!"
Kikyo didn't smile. "The younger one actually. I'm actually here to meet Masaharu Inuyasha. Apparently it was the wish of their father that I marry one of his sons and with Masaharu in charge of the house now, he wants me to marry his younger brother."
"You know him, don't you? Would you tell me what he is like?" Kikyo asked as they stepped inside the room.
"He's a little difficult, but deep down he's a really good person. Sometimes he's a little awkward around females I noticed but once he gets used to someone he relaxes."
Kagome grabbed her measuring tape and began her measurements.
"And the other one?"
"The priest? He's a friend of Inuyasha-sama's. I actually don't know him."
Kikyo sighed as Kagome finished.
"Life here is really pretty boring. But Inuyasha is an avid swordsman, perhaps you could go watch or something?"
"Thank you, Kagome. Having at least one person I know will make this easier,"
Kagome smiled as Kikyo left the room and headed back down stairs were here attendants would be waiting for her by now.
She had finished for the evening. She was undoing the apron about her waist when she heard the faint rustle of clothing and turned to the doorway casually expecting just to see someone passing by.
Instead however she was met by Masaharu-sama who was just short of glowering at her.
"I have certain expectations of my employees, Higurashi. I do not enjoy being surprised with knowledge I should already have had."
She was clueless as to what he was talking about but she dropped her hands and head. "I'm sorry."
"Why was I not informed that you were related to Yamada beforehand?"
She looked up. "I didn't know you knew her and it didn't seem important." She replied meekly.
"It didn't seem important?! Family connections are extremely important."
She mumbled another apology.
"What exactly then are you doing in menial employment? A woman of your status should be at home,"
"Actually the Higurashi family doesn't hold too much prestige and my mother wanted me to sew, so she sent me here."
"Then your mother is a fool! You will return to the Higurashi shrine tomorrow morning."
She hesitated before turning her gaze up to him. "Is that right?" Her timidity melted away. "You have a lot of nerve, firing me because of my family! It's none of your business if I sit around the shrine entertaining guests or if I seek to employ myself to worthy activities. But I'm glad, because I don't think I could really contain myself to sit around this big, empty house one more day wondering if you'll sporadically decide to fire me for some kind of imagined incompetence. Good-bye Masaharu-sama," she smiled, and brushed past him on her way to her room leaving him stunned in the doorway.
She told herself she should be upset as she trekked back to her room, but the tears wouldn't come. She wasn't sad about leaving, but she was upset. She was being dismissed and on the basis that she was too good to work.
Instead of being sad, she was angry. Her emotions were overflowing as she ransacked her own room wanting to throw everything about, half wanting to break everything in the room. Still, she had more self-control than that and though she slept not that night, the room was neat and tidy the next morning.
She looked up to see Sango as she slipped out of the kitchen. "Are you going somewhere?"
"Home," she replied.
"Home? You're leaving?"
"Masaharu-sama fired me."
"What? But I thought you were making a kimono for Yamada-san."
"I was, now I'm not. Apparently because I am related to her, I'm too good to be working, so I have to go home. It's just as well though, especially after I mouthed off to him last night."
Sango laughed quietly. "I wish I'd have seen that, I'm sure he was shocked. I'll miss you Kagome,"
"Me too Sango. It was good to get to know you."
They embraced weakly and Kagome turned to the door.
"You're leaving so soon."
They walked out together. "Yeah, he said tomorrow morning' so, off I go. I'm going to walk since it's actually just down the road from here."
"You're walking to the Higurashi Shrine, that's miles away!" Sango protested.
"Not that many and besides I don't have anything else to do."
"Well I better go before Kaede comes calling. "
They exchanged their goodbyes and Kagome set off, hauling her bag beside her. Sango retreated to the house.
She had barely gotten beyond view of the house when she heard the call.
She dropped her bag and turned back. Running wildly across the lawn toward her shouting was Inuyasha. He was really quite a spectacle; someone should tell him he shouldn't do that.
He skidded to a stop in front of her, panting.
"Where you going?"
"Home," she replied. "You were right after all, I was dismissed."
"I know, he told me last night, the bastard. I tried to talk him out of it" he added.
She smiled. "It's no big deal, I won't die without this job, and I don't really need it. You should go back and see Kikyo. She's a nice girl, I'm sure you'll like her."
Instead of listening to her, he picked up her bag and began walking.
"Come on, the least I can do is walk you home after he was being such a jerk and all."
She followed him smiling weakly.
"So, you and Yamada are cousins, eh?"
She nodded and began telling him what she knew about her cousin, hoping to encourage an interest.
The house was unusually quiet for one of his visits home. The dismal attitude of his servants wasn't difficult to pick up on. Higurashi was gone. He'd seen her go from his upstairs window, just as he'd seen his stupid brother go chasing after her after the idiot girl had decided to walk home.
He stepped up and paused at the top of the stairs. He needed to replace Higurashi in order to finish the kimono for Yamada. He peered down the hall; the ever-open door of the sewing room was now ominously slid closed as though mourning her departure.
He didn't remember other seamstresses leaving the door open as he noticed Higurashi always had. He knew little about her. She was a young girl between sixteen and nineteen but he didn't know her exact age, it hadn't mattered.
He also knew of her popularity among his servants. Of course she was also the cousin of the girl that their father had chosen to marry his brother. How could he have allowed her to continue to work within his home? What if someone found out? He detested rumors, and he wouldn't be responsible for shaming the Masaharu family name.
First it would be simple, the girl couldn't find a suitable husband so she was working for him but it would morph into something distasteful. He had taken the girl for a lover and kept her as a servant to cover up her unplanned pregnancy with their lovechild. He couldn't stomach that.
It was entirely inappropriate. He'd made the right decision. He walked to the sewing room and stepped inside, sliding the door closed behind him. Across the sewing table was the apron she'd taken off when he'd come to see her last night. Peeking out of a half open drawer was the familiar pattern he'd chosen for his ward's new kimono.
The one he'd ordered for Rin. He reached toward it and let the pink silk slid through his fingers. It was beautifully made. He'd liked her work, that's why he'd kept her on so long; she was an exceptionally talented seamstress for one so young. Although she'd probably worked at it for many years. She had fashioned his clothes as well with a fine hand that brought him a great deal of compliments.
He had been somewhat harsh on her in the past but he was that way with everyone. He folded the beautiful silk robe up and placed it back in the drawer. There was no going back the decision was made. He left the room and headed downstairs to set about finding a replacement for Higurashi.
Yet throughout his search that day an image of the dark haired girl with the fiery eyes kept returning. He'd met so many women, dainty and demure that would agree with whatever he said without thought. He'd thought Higurashi to be among them until she'd set aside her apron and dared to gaze upon him disobediently.
No woman had ever made him feel quite so challenged. He was openly defied and not politely. She'd actually raised her voice to him and then left the room without his permission. The joy she'd sparked in a less than one-minute tirade haunted him throughout the day.
By noon the next day he'd completely reversed himself. To hell with what they said. If he wanted her, he'd have her, damn everyone else. She was a good seamstress, he liked the work she did on his clothes, as far as he'd been able to find out she kept Rin in line when she had the chance, and everyone liked her. Those were reasons enough to bring her back and rumors were unlikely to sprout up given that he spent most of his away from the house in which she lived. Yes, he'd go to her today.
It nagged however. She'd walked out proudly, albeit upset, at his dismissal. It was entirely likely she'd end up dismissing him. Of course, he grinned sardonically, he could always go to her mother, and Higurashi-san would flat out give him her daughter if he asked for her. He grinned again, he'd already won, and she didn't even know it.