Disclaimer: I don't own Saiyuki... I just wish I did ^_^
A big THANK YOU!!!! to all those who reviewed "The Ice Maiden"!!! You made my day!!! ^_^ I hope you'll like this one as well.
(I know the title is a bit stupid, but I just couldn't come up with a better one...)
I'll leave you to the prologue. Enjoy!
Mother and Child
I would have killed her with my own hands had she not been already so close to death.
"You will forgive us, won't you Shunrei?" she bleated, her foolish eyes searching into mine for a trace of pity or forgiveness. Her gnarled old hand clutched at my arm. I shuddered at the touch of her filthy skin, tainted by guilt.
They had stolen my son, telling me that he was dead.
They had condemned me to a life of sorrow and misery.
They had trapped me in hell.
Now they wanted me to forgive them.
"It was for your own good," she said, trying to make me change my mind, so that she could die in peace.
I sneered at her and turned away. Surely she did not expect me to believe such idiocies?
Liar. It was for your sake not mine. Now it's too late. I cannot forgive you.
I felt her grip on my wrist weakening. I looked down. She was dead.
I called to the younger priestess and left Kayede to her care. I left the room, where the stench of guilt was stifling me. I hated them. They were dead and at peace. They had left me alive and in hell.
I had barely believed it that winter night, ten years ago, when the old woman had confessed to having abandoned my child to the mercy of the river. Even now, I was unsure whether to believe in his existence. Was he alive or dead?
I walked down slowly to the river, the only place where I could be alone from prying eyes. There I could forget the temple and all the hypocrites residing there, and stay alone with my husband and child.
I still loved him. Sometimes I still dreamt of him, holding me tight, his gentle voice murmuring sweet nothings, his laughter echoing in the darkness, his eyes shining with love for me. I was cold and empty, but he had filled my life with joy. When he died, part of me died with him. When they told me my child was dead, I knew I had betrayed Hiroshi's love.
I should have been stronger. I shouldn't have fainted. That way they wouldn't have been able to take him away.
I sat down beneath a sakura tree. The wind was cold and tore through the trees howling with rage, tearing down blossoms mercilessly from the trees. My heart filled with sudden terror.
Where are you, child?
Are you cold?
Are you hungry?
Are you unhappy?
Where are you, child?
Had he drowned or had he survived? I hated not knowing, being forced to live with an eternal doubt. I thought of him yet as a child, but he would be a man now, twenty three years old, with golden locks like mine, amethyst eyes like Hiroshi's. That's what Kayede told me. I could only imagine what my son could be like. I had never even touched him… they stole him away from me before I could kiss him and tell him how much I loved him….
Did he hate me? Did he think of me as the woman who had abandoned him?
No child. They lied to you if they told you so.
I would never have left you. I would never have done to you what my own mother did to me.
I was a strange child, cold and clever far beyond my years. My mother, a noble-woman, had given me to the temple as a gift when I was only three.
I loved her. She would come to visit me once a year perhaps, and I would look upon these visits as a man dying of thirst would look upon a drop of water. They were too few, too brief. I would cling to her, and bury my face in the fold of her dresses, made of the finest silk, and take deep breaths, trying to memorise the smell of her perfume… Those were the only times I allowed myself to betray some sign of affection. Then she would leave, and I would face another year alone, with my two maids trying to replace my mother.
The visits ceased after my eighth birthday. I was told I was too old to need my mother; she had other children to think about… pathetic lies. She had betrayed me. I never cried for her and I swore that I would never let my guard down again. It hurt too much to love.
But then I met him. I loved him and gave myself to him body and soul. He was my god. But I lost him too…
The wind had grown stronger, and dark clouds were scurrying across the sky. I shivered slightly.
I had not wanted my child to grow without the love of a mother. I was determined to take care of him. When they told me that he was stillborn, I felt my heart breaking. A part of me died with the child... The dreams and hopes I had built for my son and myself came crashing down, leaving me with nothing but broken fragments.
I was ill for weeks after. When I recovered I was no longer the old Shunrei, but only an empty shell. I had lost the will to live – I simply existed.I did not try to fight for myself, for what did I have to fight for now? I had been allowed a sip from my cup of love and happiness, and then it had been snatched away from me… I became more of a loner than before, continuing in the monotony of my temple duties, avoiding contact with the people. My tongue, always quick and biting grew sharper that a knife. I hated the world. I hated life.
I was bitter and angry. I wanted to punish myself. That was why I did not slit my veins. By dying I would have lessened the pain; by living I would pay myself back for having a dead child. I blamed myself.
Why did he die?
The question tormented me daily. At night I would dream of hearing a child crying. I would follow the sound, knowing that I would find my son. Then I would see him, wrapped in a bundle of rags, his little body thin and dirty, and lifeless eyes would stare back at me from his emaciated face…
But my child could be alive.
I looked at the river, strong and powerful. I wanted to believe that he was alive.
Had he been adopted, taken in by another woman? I felt a sudden twinge of jealousy. What if my son had found another to take my place? I hated the thought of him caressing another woman's face, calling her 'mother', lavishing on her the love which should have been mine. I hated the woman bitterly for having taken my child, for having heard his first word, seen him walk for the first time, for giving him a name...
I did not even know my son's name.
It started to rain. I stood up to return to the temple. My emotions were in turmoil. Rage, hatred, confusion, love… all these feelings tore at my breast. I longed to leave and search for my child, and claim him back. But I knew it was impossible. I was still a prisoner inside this golden cage, just as I had been when I met Hiroshi.
When I tried to escape they broke my wings and crippled me forever.
Now I am trapped here for eternity.
As I climbed up the hill I saw someone approaching. It was a novice, Aiya.
"Please," the girl was breathless, having run down to meet me. "Please my lady… a group of men… one is a monk… he's badly injured…"
At the moment I couldn't have cared less about any monk at my temple's doors. I wanted to send them to hell, tell them to look elsewhere for help. I grimaced. But it was my 'duty' after all to aid strangers. I sighed and followed the girl wearily to the temple.
Before I went in, I looked back for one last time at the river which had taken away my child.
I love you my son
Please read on.…. (^_^)