Disclaimer: I do not own Inuyasha.

- Alternate Universe - Romance/Angst/Tragedy -

Summary: She walks in the starlight, a maiden born of the moon. In her hands is life and hope, for those who hold the bleakest despair. In the time of youkai-human wars, she is a legend and ideal. Yet those whose lives are saved by her can only recall a scent - of a flower that does not exist.

Rating: R for language, adult situations, violence, and disturbing scenes.

To know before reading: The song used below is a children's song called "Kagome Kagome". No translation will be posted here, for it will eventually be made known to you through the characters' eyes. It is only spoken in Japanese once - the first time it appears. Also, there is some slight OOCness involved. Just some, as this is an AU. The biggest difference will be in Kagome, who is much more angsty than the anime/manga character we know and love. (Don't worry... she's doesn't NOT resemble herself. She's just... a little different.)

This is not light-hearted fluff. It's a little heavy, and tragic/emotional - the tragedy isn't very direct, but it's an underlying theme through all of Starlight's Veil. However, there is a somewhat light-hearted moment at the end. Where it came from, I don't know, but it's there. =)


Starlight's Veil

She Who Wanders


The village was silent as the moon gazed upon the earth. Windows were shuttered or covered in fur, allowing no aspect of life to creep through the unpaved streets. Rain fell easily from the clouds, covering all of the sky, but for the single, glorious crescent in the sky. The world was encased in an ethereal shimmer of silver, a magical, otherworldly glow covering the earth-bound houses.

Wind caught at the hem of a cloak, raising it into the breeze as she stared down at the human dwellings. A distant ache throbbed in her heart, something she could never forget. Something she could never remember.

There was something about these small, civilized portions of the land that called to her. While her mind could no longer recall these images that brought her pain, her heart held them close. She raised her hand, reaching out to this ghostly town, where people slept, blissfully unaware of reality until the morning sun rose in the east.

Pale, slender fingers grasped only air. As always, it eluded her, the feeling of peace they carried during their slumbering hours. She could sense it, yearn for it, but could never touch even the edges of such warmth.

Even in these desolate times, they could escape into their dreams. Never did they realize how blessed they were, to be able to do so. Never would they live as she did, wandering, bound to those with tortured hearts.

They did not sleep, only to be confronted by the pain of another's soul. She could never save them all, but was bound to keep trying. It was her curse and joy. To be forever alone, accompanied only by the light of the stars - which even nature sought to keep from her this night.

Her hand dropped to her side as she turned her back to the humble village. Once again she moved, without thought or plan. The tormented would guide her way. She would find the pain, ease the suffering.

Sometimes, they would live. Other times, they would die. But always, their souls held a measure of comfort from her.

None ever laid eyes on her. No words were ever spoken. Only a communion, a healing, before she was gone again - on to the next man, woman, child. To the next human or youkai who lay alone, besieged by their thoughts and deeds. Tainted in their lives and unable to be absolved of their sins. Unable to forget or forgive themselves, when the holy would be willing to cleanse them.

It was to those she was drawn. She would relive all the horrors, understand intimately their thoughts and desires. She held many lifetimes within her, of those she had given, if not purity, a chance of peace.

And she herself was plagued.

Hidden from the senses, she passed through the night, a silent wraith, an angel swathed in obsidian with eyes too old and wise for her years, a messiah with the shrieks of the condemned in her ears.


Laughter touched her ears.

Carefree and innocent.

The sun was smiling benevolently, high in the sky, watching as its children danced to their own songs of life.

Just as the girl was doing now, sharing her song with a silent watcher.

Kagome Kagome Kago no naka no Tori wa

Itsu Itsu deyaru? Yoake no ban ni

Tsuru to kame ga subetta

Ushirono shomen dare?

She danced happily in the field of flowers, dark hair streaming behind her. Her heart was untroubled, whole and complete. She had love and kindness.

There was no need to be here, watching the child, in the light of day. There was no time to watch the untroubled. Those in need of spiritual assistance called to her, pulling her away from the enchanting sight and childish song.

It was bright and overly warm, a day meant for lingering, but still her feet glided over the ground, guided by a force unseen and unfelt by the population. Birds flew overhead, a melody of sound brought forth from such small bodies. Beautiful sounds that she could not truly hear.

Death hovered before her, hidden in the trees. Unerring and uncannily silent on the forest floor, she continued toward the pain. No physical sound reached her ears as the youkai's sense of survival won out over his body's torment, though in her mind his heart thundered with questions. Bitterness, anger, guilt and grief all tore through her.

The scent of blood assaulted her nose as she came to the small grove. The crimson fluid streaked and stained the fur covering his body, pouring from various wounds. Some were clean and sharp, while others were jagged, as though given by both sword and claw.

She knelt gracefully, automatically tugging at the strings tied around her neck and placing her cloak to the side. A cool hand rested gently on his chest, monitoring his heart. He would live with proper treatment, if she attended to him quickly.

Calm and unfazed by the trickles of life escaping his skin, she cut his tunic away from his chest. It seemed the worst injury was one to his abdomen, a gaping hole to the side of his body. Small white roots were taken from a pouch tied to her belt, and two nearby stones were put to good use, turning the plants into a cool mash.

She hummed softly as she worked, a haunting melody that mingled with the gentle scent of a flower. Undoubtedly it was a flower, though it was one unknown to those who walked the earth, and emanated solely from the woman herself.

She soaked a square of cloth with water from her flask, before gently wiping at the wounds. Muscles shifted and tensed beneath her touch, eyelids fluttering open to reveal cloudy azure eyes. A soft hiss as claws suddenly swiped at her in deadly reflex.

Injured animals rarely responded sweetly to her tender ministrations. She caught his hand in hers, the contact soothing as she spoke, her voice low, her words spoken in a dialect he should not understand. Yet the meaning came clearly to his mind as he relaxed, his eyes closing once again.

Once again she resumed cleansing his abrasions, though she was no longer humming. She sang softly, words of power and healing, before finally winding into the song she had heard earlier in the day - the child's. Gently her fingers smeared the white paste over the worst of his wounds, eyelashes fluttering down to shield her eyes from view.

Very slowly, power pulsed from her fingertips, warming the mashed roots, gaining strength from the medium. Although it was not specifically a salve used to cure, it allowed a healer to use more power without taking it from herself.

Torn muscle slowly rebuilt as skin knitted together, sealing once again. Warmth spread through her patient's body as his mind was embraced by another. Her hand settled on his chest, directly above his heart, feeling the healthy, strong beat.

The body was healing rapidly - now it was time to enter his soul.


A feral growl, before teeth tore into soft, succulent skin. A high, keening scream of pain.

He stood above them all, watching as his wolves fed on the humans who dared defy him. And yet, something inside him broke.

It was an innocent village, of children and parents, of brothers and sisters. How would he feel if some rampaging party did this to the Pack? Was this truly right? Certainly it was what many youkai did - but did not the wolves have honor and integrity?

As human life bled into the ground, feeding the era of death and bleak despair, he wondered. Were youkai so completely different from these humans? Could he possibly create a change?

But, no. It could not be. Such a dream was a child's fantasy, and he could not indulge in such. His father stood beside him, proud and strong.

Kouga, Prince of the Wolf Clan, would lead his clan the way it was led now.

They were enemies. And such was life.


She could feel his heart constrict. It was an old memory, a childhood one, hidden away. She had unlocked it with her seeking.


He watched silently from the shadows, as the child carefully tossed a fish to the injured wolf. One of his wolves. Did the brat not realize how much danger he was in? Did he not know that any moment now, he would become dinner for the wounded animal?

Did he not realize that Kouga stood behind him, willing to sacrifice a human for one of his beloved companions?

But his decision wavered. And as it did, the child scampered off - to the village, or wherever his safe life led. And the young wolf, injured out of inexperience in raids, crept to the fish and began to feed.


And therein lay his torment. He was a youkai, a wolf Prince, with a Pack to lead. Before his own concerns came that of his followers, his family. Yet deep inside he harbored regret for the innocent lives spilled in such a useless war.

His head lay in her lap, her fingers running through his tangled hair in a soothing gesture. His brow furrowed as she continued to delve, deep into his heart and memories. With each memory, with each thought and emotion, she held it and forced him to inspect it.

Forced him to acknowledge his true thoughts and emotions. Forced him to accept them and learn that, in order to find the peace he so craved, he would need to hold true to himself, the one hidden away since childhood.

It was easier for him, for she was a buffer to the suffering encased inside him. She bore the brunt of his agony as she sifted through scenes of carnage, of times where he laughed joyously as he slaughtered. And she soothed him, showing him the road to absolvement, to peace.

It was not as hard as it had been once, in her childhood. She had seen enough that this left her unfazed. Unfazed, but for the tears trailing down her cheeks, and the pain constricting her heart. But she never faltered as she healed the invisible scars.

Soon he slept, dreamlessly, the sleep of the reborn.

She dressed his wounds, nearly healed, before slipping into her dark cloak and disappearing to wander beneath the stars once more.

There were others who needed her, called for her without realizing they did so.


She stood calmly, the wind pulling at her outer garment, slipping within to bring chills to her skin. She ignored it, as she always had. Her eyes were locked on the stars.

Brilliant dots of light covered the sky. They were never alone; always they had each other. They were they, while she was one. The difference was staggering. She was lonely. The feeling had festered inside her for years, as she became a legend told in village taverns. A savior on the field of death, an angel appearing in the dead of night.

A woman's spirit, walking the lands. The stories were endless. She was amused by this need to force a life and history upon a mystery. It had taken two years for the whispers to roam the country of a beautiful miko, walking the land. A healer of heart and soul, with great capacity for love and kindness.

It was true; the capacity was there. But never had she held the chance to tap it. She was a transient part of people's lives, appearing briefly for the first stages of soul-healing. It was up to them whether to accept it and end their own personal torment or to reject it, but the first step was always hers.

Except once.

That one single time...

With him.

She had watched him as he lay injured at the base of a tree. Pain radiated from him, but he had not called her. She had simply felt it and made her way there, and watched.

But someone was already there; a young child, who had been fearless in the face of his near-transformation, rejection of the food she brought, and, finally, his softly voiced question. She'd smiled then. Smiled through the bruises she had accrued from a beating by cruel villagers, a beating given because she'd dared to steal food for this injured taiyoukai.

The pain in his soul had lessened at that moment, though he had not sensed it.

But she had. She had sensed, and watched as this young child soothed his soul. And had waited until sleep had overtaken her, and exhaustion had overtaken him.

He had not needed a healing of his heart or soul, for it had already begun. Instead she had quietly healed the wounds of youkai and human child, before leaving in the night.

But still she remembered her pounding heart as she had neared the two.

Her fingers had shaken as she touched the wounds, made by an invisible force of power. Her voice had wavered as she sang the words of healing.

Never before had someone elicited such a reaction from her - not even the first time she had stumbled across a soul in torment.

And she'd walked away from it, ignoring the curiosity, once she'd seen the child follow the now-healed youkai. There had been no words spoken between them, only a quiet agreement. He would protect her; she would be loyal to him. Neither would be alone.

That was when the loneliness truly began. To save lives, she had given up her future. She had given up her own life, and had been... content. It was something she had wanted to do, and had made the decision. Certainly it had been made in her youth, but she had never regretted the decision before.

Now regret filtered into her blood, her mind. Her ability to sense pain and soothe it had begun to dwindle. Two years of this, and she knew why.

It was him, and that child. Her curiosity, her longing. Her secret desire for family and love. For life again. It had bloomed deep inside her heart upon seeing his strength - the strength he had to overcome his own troubles without her.

He had been the first. The only.

She was certain it wasn't love that kept her mind on him. She knew it was nothing more than an obsession... and nothing less.

Something so strong, that it enveloped her in a haze of confusion. That caused her abilities to wane, her power to fade.

Nay; her power hadn't faded. It was her senses that were clouded. She needed to find closure with him before she could once again truly walk her chosen path. It was this need, this choice of action, that brought her to these lands. She did not know his name, or his loyalties. She simply walked, and hoped she would find him.

Perhaps she never would. Meanwhile, she helped those she found. It was getting harder each night. Each day. When the sun rose, she could only remember the warmth of the girl's smile, given freely in response to a simple question. Then night embraced the world, she could only remember him.

Why was she so drawn to him?

Was it because his spiritual strength was stronger than hers?

Or was she simply looking for a way out - an excuse to keep from spending her life tending to those in need? Trying to believe that no one needed her help?

Was it truly that she did not want this life?

She lowered her head as she walked, puzzled. Why was she beset with such uncertainty when already five years of healing and wandering had passed easily? Now it had been two years of doubt and fog.

The memories and emotions of all those she had encountered weighed heavily in her heart. For the first time, she felt tainted by it all. No amount of bathing could erase the feeling from her skin.

What was her fascination? She needed to understand it. She needed to find him.


Kouga paced before the screen door, waiting impatiently for the call to enter. After years of leading the Wolf Clan, it was hard to remember that he was no longer independent and hadn't been for three months. He was an outcast, along with his two loyal companions and the wolves who had recognized his fierce devotion to his beliefs.

Now he was working for the Lord of the Western Lands as a scout, and general peace-maker. Although the lands were in turmoil, they were gradually being reclaimed and brought back to order.

A little girl darted through the hall, running and clasping his leg tightly. She spoke no words, simply smiled brightly at him, dark eyes dancing in her face. He nodded curtly in acknowledgement of her usual greeting and stood calmly.

Then the wall was opened and a voice bade him enter. He stepped forward immediately, though little Rin darted before him to give a greeting to the man within.

"Sesshoumaru," he greeted calmly. The taiyoukai watched him impassively, though one hand was resting on the child's head. Kouga doubted the lord even realized he was indulging in such a display of affection.

"Your report."

His voice was icy, as normal. Ignoring it, he smiled faintly as he began to recite. "The eastern border has been completely subdued. There are no longer any attacks in that region. However, I did find news that you will be happy to hear."

There was a long pause. Of course, Sesshoumaru never gave in to impatience. Biting back a sigh that he had been unable to rattle the man, he continued. "Rumors fly that She Who Wanders is in these lands. There have been no less than three men who claimed she healed them and communed with them, giving them new belief in their lives. I have been unable to track down these men, though I have Hakakku and Ginta working on it."

Sesshoumaru became stiffer than before, if possible. She was the thread that bound the two together. Both could remember an elusive scent of a non-existent flower, and warmth coming from small hands. A soft voice, singing gently a song of healing, in an ancient language long forgotten by all but the youkai, a few monks and the rare miko.

They were both obsessed by this woman, who had the scent of a human and stronger holy powers than any alive, this woman who so easily eluded even the best of youkai. She seemed to disappear at will. Perhaps she was a walking spirit - though the strong, warm hands had been filled with life.

She had quickly become a fascinating enigma for Kouga and Sesshoumaru. At all times there was a search out for her - but never could they catch more than rumors.

It was probably the same this time. Very few 'eyewitness' accounts were true. But hope flared all the same.

"That is all," Kouga belatedly added, realizing that the Lord of the Western Lands could possibly be waiting for more news. He was answered with a curt nod, before being dismissed.

When the wolf youkai departed, Sesshoumaru turned his golden gaze to the window. She could be in his lands. He knew then that he would once again leave his manor to scout his grounds, in a vain search for the scent that remained firmly entrenched in his memory.

She was an obsession that could not, or would not, leave. It was she who had healed his wounds, brought back the arm that had been missing. She who had healed the child sleeping next to him that night. And she had done so without him recognizing her presence until she had disappeared.

Although he had searched that night and the next, there had been no trail. It was impossible for a human to simply disappear as she had - but it happened. The mystery bothered him. He needed to solve it.

Rin wrapped her arms around his leg and pressed against him. The girl was affectionate, though she still hadn't spoken a word. Except her name, once. The morning after she had healed them.

But nothing since.

He had the oddest feeling that if he found her, this obsession would end. And Rin would speak, allowing him to hear the words that shimmered in her eyes.

Two years ago, he had been faintly appalled at caring for a human child. But now he knew her to be his daughter, and cherished above all possessions. Because of that, he had forgone his toying with humans, though he still killed those who were in his way. He hadn't gone soft since she entered his life - that would be a death sentence for them both. But there had been some minute changes.

He glanced toward the door as a toad-like figure walked in, carrying the Staff of Heads. Then he looked at his daughter, who clung so happily to his leg.

"Jaken. We leave in the morning."


She knew she was moving in the correct direction, though she did not know why she was so certain of it. Day and night she walked, unable to rest until exhaustion flared in her bones. Her body was weakening with this abuse, but she pushed past it. Her questions agitated, heated her blood and brought her renewed energy when she needed it.

It wasn't long before fever swept through her, product of malnourishment and overwork. She had leached from her powers during those days she did not forage or hunt, when remembering such things became trivial. She could no longer sense needy souls, being enveloped in a dreary haze. Only one thing kept her moving.


She could sense him, somehow. He must be near. And so she ignored the sickness running rampant through her body, growing stronger with her lack of action against it. It was a simple thing, to purge herself of illness, but she could no longer gather the concentration to do so easy a task.

Her breathing became raspy and labored as she stumbled, taking no path known to the human eye. She was walking on a straight line to her end goal, the man she so wished to find. Wooden clogs saved her feet from various scrapes and cuts, but still blood trickled. The cloak protected her from all but the dangers of nature.

She clutched the ends of the cloak tightly in her hands, forcing past branches and brush. Just think one step ahead, and the distance would no longer seem so great. Think minute by minute, and the pain may not be so overwhelming.

She was not immune to physical ailment, despite her gifts. She was still human as the rest, if slated to a different way of life. She was not as mysterious as she seemed, though in ways she was more of an enigma than any could guess. Such complexities thrived behind the eyes resembling the night sky, filled with such sorrow.

She was no longer the child she once was, evident by her years fulfilling the duties she had taken on in her youth and innocence. Now she could no longer do so, until she confronted this youkai who had weakened her.

Knees impacted hard against the earth as she once again fell. It was dry, the rain having moved on, though the grass was still green and vibrant. She lowered her hands to the ground, touching the life held within the small, flimsy emerald blades. Her fingers trembled with the movement.

No longer did she hold the strength to get back on her feet and continue moving. She breathed a soft sigh as she pulled apart the knot around her neck, allowing her cloak to fall. Slowly, she curled on her side, digging her hands into the fabric and holding tightly. For now, she would rest. As the sun rode high in the sky, she would fall into dreamless sleep.

Perhaps the fever would leave her after her body began to relax and her mind rested, shying away from the turmoil within. Though she knew it to be a futile hope. She would need to gather her powers to purge her blood.

But she could no longer grasp them. They were held just out of reach.


The impassive figure walked steadily, as the toad led the two-headed beast behind him. Rin ran happily around them all, never passing her father and always staying close. She had learned that traveling meant not only adventure, but danger. That lesson had been brought home several times during her first year, though nothing had directly happened to her.

No, it was the change within her father she would witness. One moment he would be the calm, distant youkai - the next, he would be the ruthless taiyoukai, Sesshoumaru, Lord of the Western Lands.

Sesshoumaru ignored the soft mutterings coming from Jaken. As always, he grumbled over his duty to protect Rin, though in truth he had come to be fond of the child. It was routine for the two to bicker. Jaken seemed almost as young as his daughter at times.

But for now, they were fairly quiet. The taiyoukai's pensive, tightly controlled mood was a time for silence. Irritations were not to be borne during these periods.

Rumors spoke uneasily of a wandering miko, who stopped for none but those in extreme suffering. None saw her, though they would see the results of her healing the next day. Two weeks, and all he held were rumors once again. Frustration flooded him, before it was viciously tamped down and ignored. Emotion helped not at all during a hunt. Patience and careful stalking was needed to catch the elusive prey.

There was only one thing that lit an unfamiliar feeling of hope within him. A faint premonition of victory.

The rumors were no longer overawed or reverent of her presence. They were frightened of this woman they could not understand, whose deeds were no longer as miraculous as before. The recovered patients would speak quietly of sorrow and confusion, as though they had glimpsed something of her heart. They were thankful of her healing, but wished only that she could find her own peace.

It was different, and the villagers were afraid of this. She was no longer conforming nicely to the legends and myths surrounding her. She must have truly been by here. But why could he not catch her scent or presence? How had she managed to hide the strength of her power?

He paused as the wind carried an odd scent. One he could almost recognize. Jaken bumped into his ankle, apologized, and moved back two steps. He knew Rin was watching his back curiously, but spoke no words of explanation.

This scent... it carried those flowers. Yet there was sickness in it, one that he was sure he should remember.

"Stay and guard Rin," he ordered, turning sharply to his left and disappearing into the trees. He recognized the illness now, a scent so long buried in his memory. Plague.

He moved swiftly toward the source, knowing that it would be her. He felt excited, agitated. He had found her now, and she wouldn't easily escape him. Yet this underlying note of decay and death brought the heat of battle into his blood - a battle that he would not be able to fight. He was no healer, and had no ability to destroy the illness festering within her body. Tenseiga could - but it would only work occasionally. It was as though the sword had a higher expectation of him, somehow.

He knew she would need to be taken to someone with skill… yet didn't trust the human dwellings nearby to save her. It would have to be the manor; Jaken and Ah`Un would need to give a message to Kouga to find a village miko with the strength to purge plague.

Something cool and soft brushed against her cheek, icy compared to the flushed heat of her skin. She fought to open her eyes, only to whimper as light stabbed through her head, paining her. She turned her head away, eyelashes fluttering down to rest against her pale cheeks. Breathing hurt, and so she drew in only as much air as was necessary.

In her delirium, she thought she was lifted into a gentle, strong embrace, and clung to her cloak. She would not lose it, even in a fit of hallucination. She thought it was he. Her obsession must have grown strong, if she thought he was there at her weakest time. It was a measure of her desperation to find him.

But all the same, her perceived presence of him calmed her. Her mind was soothed, as her breath came easier. Muscles that she never realized to be tensed relaxed. Her whimpers ceased, though the occasional gasp of pain still existed.

And, ludicrously, a song came to her mind. It burned, insisted on being recalled. Flooded her thoughts.

Kagome, Kagome, the bird in the cage…


A translucent, shimmering azure curtain cascading over the flat, smoothed surface of dull gray stones, accompanied by a gentle babble of sound. It reached to soothe, covering the clearing in tranquil atmosphere.

There was no peace to be found here today. Thoughts flew to the western wing of the manor, to blankets piled on the floor, to the hourly replacement of heated stones beneath a writhing body. Death and decay curdled the very air, offending his keen senses.

Two youkai stood by the artificial waterfall, having heard the opinion of five separate healers, each a miko of significant power and experience. All condemned the patient to death.

The patient. As though she had already slipped from their tenuous hold. As though she were bound for the spirit world, where she could never return; where her soul would be free from all earthly entrapments. She was human, and so it was certain she had a soul; she was a miko, and so it was certain she would find peace in the afterlife.

Kouga turned, beginning to speak - and stopped, as his companion continued to stare up at the sky, watching the clouds pass by, uncaring and unknowing of the life struggling within the manor.

No. Not struggling. She seemed to be slipping into death of her own free will. He clasped his hands behind his back and watched the Lord of the Western Lands, waiting to see for what reason he had been summoned here.

"You are certain those miko are of substantial power." The question was not voiced as such, though it was an inquiry all the same. The former wolf prince nodded curtly.

"They are the five most powerful in your realm."

"They all condemn her to death." He finally turned, half-lidded golden eyes appearing almost lazy as they watched the other youkai. "Any strong miko can purge illness from the blood, yet all of them profess their inability to do so. Are they so weak, then, that they cannot save the life of a fellow priestess?"

"They say the plague is too far into the latter stages for her life to be spared." He stood firm, uncertain as to what the taiyoukai wanted of him.

"What they truly mean is that all their efforts are rejected," Sesshoumaru corrected coldly. "She does not wish to be healed."

Silence flooded the little glade, uncomfortable and filled with unhappy truth. Azure eyes turned to the small waterfall as he quietly agreed.

"There is no way to save her," Kouga said quietly. "Her life is already ended."

The wind came then, as though to dispel the words just spoken. Tear them away from memory and fling them into places unknown, where such beliefs were never to be heard again. The wolfhound fur clasped around the Lord of the Western Land's shoulder rippled in the harsh breeze, a visual reminder as to his power. Power that was helpless and unable to act.

"She will not die. Her time has not yet come." He spoke so flatly, so surely, that the former wolf prince could only nod in response. Sesshoumaru turned to walk calmly away. "Send for another miko." As though a new one could give a better diagnosis of her condition.


She thrashed against the bonds holding her, crackling with evil power. She hated the feel of them, touching against her skin, burning her with malevolence. Her teeth bit down against her lower lip in an attempt to keep in the screams. She would not, could not, give in. She had to stay strong.

Soft whispers filled her ears. Why not fall? To continue serving those who cared not that she existed alone was a worthless endeavor. In that life, no one cared. No one remembered her. But the life being offered held everything. Affection, caring. A family, normality.

No! All of it was a lie, a deception. Better to stay true to the beliefs she held. Better to ignore the sly little whispers in her head.

Oh? a little voice sneered. Then why don't we recall some of the nastier memories? Why don't we show you why our way is best? The malice was unmistakable, searing through her in almost physical pain. She cried out, the sound breaking off sharply as she once again bit down on the soft flesh of her lip. Blood ran over her tongue as she bit through the skin.


Shouts ran through the village, tearing at the child's ears. He whimpered. "Mama, Papa… where are you? Don't leave me… I don't want to be alone." He ignored the flames as he crawled on the ground, coughing as smoke entered his mouth, crawling into his lungs. "Mama…"

He stumbled over a body, blinked into familiar, dark-lashed eyes. Mommy's eyes. Beautiful eyes even when staring up at the sky in death. Beautiful eyes surrounded by crimson blood. He curled up next to her, wondering at the stiffness. Wanting her to return. "Mama…"

She tore at the delicate flesh, snarling in delight. Yes! Let the blood run from rent skin, let the smell of death permeate the ground. All would die in the village, and she would crow her victory that night. The taste of man-flesh would be sweet in her mouth, blood warming her skin.

Her Clan had done well tonight. Their strength had grown. Grown even as it was torn down by their victims. Two dead, but it didn't matter. None of it mattered. Only the blood-haze that entered her mind had any meaning. She cared not that these had once been her allies. No, they were now her prey. Because she was invincible.

She laughed as flames licked the huts, turning the human establishment into nothing but a graveyard. Abandoning the lifeless body at her feet, she lithely jumped over a fallen wagon. A new victim was what she needed.

Perhaps that child there, crying over his mother. A babe, too little to run. Too little to understand what had happened to the precious woman who had borne him. Her teeth shone in a savage grin as she stalked towards the child.

He would be her dinner for the night. He would soothe her snarling belly.


Remember that? You couldn't save the child in the end. You soothed his heart, but he still died in your arms, with the youkai lifeless beside you. The voice taunted her, mocked her, laughing at the turmoil in her heart at the bitter remembrance.

She shook her head. In the end, the youkai had wept in horror as her soul had been embraced by the priestess draining her life. The need for bloodshed had disappeared and sanity returned, as she realized what she had done to those her Clan had sworn to protect. That, at least, was a small victory, and she would not lose sight of that because of the wicked voice in her head.

You lie to yourself. You wanted to save the child. You didn't seek to save her; you sought to harm her. You wanted her dead. Admit it; you are not as pure as you should be.

No. Her death was an accident; I was young and not in as much control over my power as I am now. The entire time, I sought to save. I never meant to take lives.

But you did… can you live with that? As a savior, you killed. Murdered.

She forgave me.

Did she?

The matter-of-fact question tore at her. Was she truly forgiven? Was she so flawed? No. She had been forgiven; her apology had been accepted calmly as the cat-youkai died from the powers she had failed to leash. She would still stand strong.

An accident didn't make her beliefs wrong. It only served to show her how right they were.


He watched as the woman stirred, crying out in pain. Her pale brow was furrowed with pain and thought. He could smell the unnatural heat of her body, death reaching out to grasp her slender body in its claws. Six days, and nothing had changed. It was as though she was held in stasis.

She wasn't fighting death, but it seemed that something made it impossible for her to slip away from life. He stared down at her, standing beside the blankets and watching her impassively. He hated it here. The smell, the aura, the cries torn from her chapped, dry lips.

He'd watched as the servants tried to dribble water through the parched flesh, to no avail. She wouldn't swallow, and coughed out what little they gave her.

She was dying, though she did not die. How many had come forth on his demand, giving their opinions, with sad eyes? Even those she had not spoken to felt grief over her eventual passing. She inspired such feelings in all.

Rin knew she was there, though she had been forbidden contact with the woman. As a human child, she could too easily catch the disease rampaging, hidden beneath pale skin.

She no longer looked healthy and beautiful. Clammy pallor overtook her body, and moment by moment, little by little, she grew thinner, shrunk before his very eyes. The enigmatic, soft scent of that unfamiliar and exotic flower disappeared a little more each day, swamped with this plague.

This plague, he learned, that was no plague at all.

It had been the sixth miko who took him aside to speak quietly of her thoughts.

She was in a mental crux, and her body was reacting in a negative fashion. The holy powers gifted to her could also be a curse; it was uncommon to see such self-hatred, but not unheard of. And so she was attempting to purify herself subconsciously, but in a way that could only hurt her.

Could it be? He looked at this woman who had saved so many, who had healed the hearts of the damned and lifted weights from the souls of the cursed. Could she truly feel so unsettled within her own mind?

He felt disgust at the thought. She was strong, and should hold belief in herself, instead of falling to such a state. Although she was human, she held more power than any other alive. Yet because of her own self-doubt, because of her self-directed hatred, she was dying.

Hatred for what?

What would cause her to detest herself so strongly?

He turned and walked out of the room, leaving his thoughts behind him. There were things to be done. He had no time to waste on a woman who would not wake from her self-inflicted nightmare.


She clutched at the sheets, warm, seething beneath her palms. Groaned softly and shifted her weight.

She wanted to wake… but she was afraid.

Afraid of being alone.

You idiot… you've always been alone. Why are you afraid now?

She didn't know - only knew that it had been there since 'that' day. Since him. Since the vision of him and the child would not leave her mind.

Since she felt his presence beside her, though he was never there.

Since the delirium had taken her and sucked her dry.

I don't… want to live like this anymore.

I can't.

Stupid. She'd agreed to it… she'd known what she was in for the day she'd taken the cloak and began her everlasting journey.

But did I understand?

It hurt too much. She wasn't strong enough.

I should be strong…

She shivered, despite the heat holding her body, tight and unmoving. She yearned for soft words, a comforting presence. She longed to have someone understand.

"I understand."

She frowned. That voice…

"You need time for yourself… to understand yourself and heal from the scars you cannot see."

Why was she in her head?

"Taking the time to reflect is not failure."

She couldn't understand…

"It is not wrong for you to change in your beliefs, and in your heart."

Then she… she was not a failure.

She could live the life she wanted, if she so wished.

"Cast off your hatred - for I do not hate you."

"Even when I broke the promise I made?" The words came from her lips, floating through the air, hoarse from disuse.

"Your promise was only to tend to those in need…

"You did not need to give your entire life in that service. You, too, are a beloved child…"


She woke suddenly, abruptly torn from the in-between world of illness and strain. It was almost painful to jerk her mind to full consciousness, but she couldn't undo the action now.

Her breath came shallowly, biting at her lungs with each inhalation. The air was humid and almost stale - the stones beneath the blankets hard and uncomfortable. So that was why she'd felt so hot - they had tried to sweat the sickness out of her.

She lifted a hand shakily to her head, staring at the ceiling blankly. She was still weak, though the fever and delirium had fled. Coughing brokenly, she realized that she was, indeed, sick. When was the last time physical ailment had forced her into rest?

She couldn't remember.

A lifetime ago, perhaps.

Her eyes fluttered closed as she recalled the voice. Soft words, spoken by someone she'd never forgotten. By someone she could no longer remember the face of.

Dark eyes came to mind, filled with understanding and compassion.

Her mother…

Not the one who had born her. But the one who had stayed with her, in her secret heart. The one who had given her strength and tutelage in her powers, until she had proven herself to surpass even her ancestor in sheer strength and control.

How long had that taken?

Lifetime upon lifetime of training, mistakes, and pain.

But also lifetime upon lifetime of smiles, laughter, and sincere thanks.

With all the sorrow, also came the happiness, though she had never stayed to bask in it. Though it was still there, even if she had not stayed to keep a memory.

The truth was in the peace of those she'd left.

And she didn't need to feel so angry with herself for being unable to continue - for she, too, had a heart and soul in need of care, and heaped with the neglect of years.

She sighed, sinking once again into darkness. But this time it welcomed, soothed, as her body's physical mending began.


It was raining, but she didn't mind the cold. She felt cleansed from her period of confinement, as she walked along the path, occasionally kneeling to brush a slender finger over a soft petal, or breathe in its scent. Tranquility was preserved as rain created a barrier between her and the real world.

It was magical.



The faintest of smiles graced her pale lips as silk plastered against her body, clammy and clinging. It was a small price to pay for freedom. More than worth it as the wind whispered, tickled against her ears, welcoming her return. And she could hear, faintly, the calls of the tortured.

The sound brought giddiness to her soul - she was not scarred after all. That obsession she had held still settled in her heart, throbbing with life, but it no longer blocked her ability to help those in need. Her period of illness had helped her read her own desires and needs, brought to her a new understanding.

Despite the pain in the calls reaching her mind, she no longer felt the urgent need to move to its source and soothe it. She no longer pushed herself behind those of others. Now she could choose.

She could choose, because she had realized the necessity of having choice. Without choice, resentment festered; without choice, there was no true freedom in her movements.

The cloak hung innocently, still in the room she had been given. Soon they would realize she was missing; none even knew she had awoken from her near-death state.

Had that truly been only half a day ago? Even now she felt so much lighter in her soul, without the great weight she had carried for longer than she could recall. She was smiling, something that hadn't occurred since the first death she'd held in her arms.

She had accepted her past and memories, as well as her abilities and responsibilities. She'd accepted her life.

She'd even accepted the obsession that she could not indulge, for she could no longer feel his presence. It was shielded from her, and she knew it was Mother's doing. For her own safety and sanity.

A fat drop fell from an innocent leaf, causing her to flinch at the cold landing on her neck. And she laughed.

A carefree laugh - the laughter of the child she had heard so long ago.

The words of song came to her lips unbidden, the childish song she did not take the time to understand. In that moment, for her, it simply signified life - the laughing, happy, warm, full part of life, not the life of death, sadness, despair and grief.

Her feet moved before her mind could catch up to her thoughts, and she danced. Danced in the rain, her heart filled with simple joy. Danced beneath the stars, hidden behind clouds of gray. Danced in the garden where flowers rejoiced.

Kagome, Kagome, the bird in the cage, when will you come out? In the evening of the dawn, the crane and turtle slipped. Who stands behind you right now?

She laughed again as the question spilled forth in her mind. I stand behind myself, she thought triumphantly.

He watched her from his shelter beneath a leafy tree. That scent once again returned to him, elusive and beautiful, a floral scent that could not exist in this world. Yet it did, emanating from her skin naturally. And she was there, a delicate woman who danced with bright laughter, who sang the song of a child with simple delight.

At that time, she seemed innocent and young. She did not hold the cares that had tormented her in the sleep he had observed for the eternal span of two weeks, a time that now seemed to have flown. His angel, his saving grace, was now present, daringly alive and celebrating her life. The woman that had brought sorrow to his heart and confusion to his mind. The woman he had alternately scorned and feared for; the woman he respected deeply and without reservation.

And he smiled.

For now, there was no need to approach her - for now, there was no need to mar the moment.

The moment in the rain, the clouds veiling the stars.


CJ's Blurb: This was originally going to be a lot longer. I had planned two chapters; this one to be 19-20 pages, and the second to be perhaps 10 to 12. But toward the end, my mind just dragged me onto a ride and I came to this end, and I sat there, and said to myself… "It's perfect." You see, this wasn't a story. It was an insight into an alternate life, a look into the duties and responsibilities of a miko. Originally I was going to make a very tragic end. I admit it. But - there came this. An end with hope, an end where the beginning hasn't even been broached.

Before anyone asks - no. This is not set within the time of the anime. In fact, almost none of the anime happened. The scene with Sesshoumaru and Rin was borrowed because I happen to adore it.

Will I continue this? … It's possible that, some day, I will return to this storyline. But for now, I am content.

This style of writing takes a lot out of me, but sometimes I think it's my 'true' voice. It's one that I can pour heart and soul into when something grabs me by the throat. It's one that needs no story or plot, simply an emotion, time, and place.

It's a little heavier than what I have currently on FanFiction, but I hope you all enjoy. I'm curious as to the response of you readers to this. It took a lot of energy out of me to be written, so I hope I managed to convey most of what I wanted to.

Well, that's enough out of me for now.

Thank you for taking the time to read.

-Cassidy Jewell-