Straw into Gold

Dedication: The second part of this story is dedicated to all my reviewers who said they liked the first part and the Sesshy Kagura Pairing.

Disclaimer: I still don't own the rights to the story, but I do own the ashes of the mill, which I'm about to sell on Ebay.

Recap: Kagura had met a demon named Sesshystiltzkin and he helped her get rid of the straw and fill the room up with gold. The Emperor was so pleased with her work that he decided to hire her on for a second night. What will happen next?

The servants led Kagura down a hall into a bathing room where a tub of hot water and some scented soap had been placed. One maid helped the befuddled mill girl off with her old scorched kimono and Kagura eagerly sunk into the tub and began to wash off all the soot and sweat.

After she was done with her bath another maidservant came and dressed Kagura in a red silk kimono more elegant than any she had ever dreamed of wearing. Then a group of servants came in and laid out a feast for her, the most sumptuous food she had ever tasted on silver dishes. And all day long a succession of different servants played the taiko and sang her songs. They did pantomimes for her and brushed her hair until it gleamed like black satin and manicured her nails. They were friendly towards her in every way. But when evening came, they locked her in a room even bigger than the first and filled, except for the three-foot area around the spinning wheel, with straw.

Kagura sank down into one of the numerous piles of straw. Well, she told herself, with the exception of the threat of losing your head, you've never had a better day. Then she tried to tell herself that she was lucky to have had such a wonderful day, but she didn't feel lucky. Instead Kagura felt let down. All that gold Sesshystiltzkin had brought and here she was right back where she had started. It was kind of him to have tried to help, but it had all came to nothing. She rested her chin in her hands and growled angrily.

And looked up again when she felt a gentle touch on her arm. "I wasn't crying." She pointed out.

'No," Sesshystiltzkin replied, "but this time I was looking for you." He walked around the room, or at least the spinning wheel part, which didn't have straw heaped around it. "More straw into gold," he observed. "Is the emperor still threatening to chop off your head?"

"Yup." Kagura replied caustically. She was tired of playing the victim one night was enough.

Sesshystiltzkin decided to ignore her tone. "Did he even pay you for the last batch?"

Kagura held out the seven gold coins the emperor had given her.

"Quite a bargain." The young demon sank down next to her in the straw. "Offer them to me, and I'll bring more gold."

Kagura looked at him incredulously. "Offer you seven gold coins for a room full of gold? At least the fan had some sentimental value."

Sesshystiltzkin just grinned at her. "Offer them to me." He repeated.

Kagura gently placed the coins into his hand.

Then, just as they had done the previous night, Sesshystiltzkin brought armloads of gold objects from between the particles while Kagura tossed straw out the window. But this time the young woman knew the king would be pleased, so instead of worrying if her head would still be attached to the rest of her body the next day, she and Sesshystiltzkin talked and laughed together as though they were old friends.

By the time the emperor had returned at dawn, all the straw was gone and the room was filled with gold.

"Domo arigato." Kagura whispered as they heard the key turn in the lock.

Sesshystiltzkin bowed politely, then disappeared .

The door banged open.

"Well done!" The emperor exclaimed once again. "Truly, amazingly well done!"

"Hai," Kagura replied quickly. "And now I must be leaving or my father will be wor-"

"Nonsense," The emperor interrupted. "Your father is just fine. And we're having such a good time together I insist you stay with me."

If this is his idea of a good time I'd hate to see him have a bad time. Kagura thought to herself. Aloud she squeaked out, "stay?"

"Of course," the emperor replied confidently. "Someone with your abilities would make an excellent empress."

"Empress?" Kagura repeated dumbstruck.

The emperor gave a gracious nod. "Spin another roomful of straw into gold and we'll consider that your dowry. I'll marry you the following day."

"Oh my." Kagura's hands flew to her face.

The emperor gestured to a nearby servant. "Dress her in the finest silks and jewels." He ordered. "Feed her off my own dishes. Treat her like an empress until tonight."

"Demo," Kagura started, "demo-"

The emperor kissed her hands and swept out of the room in a cloud of perfume.

The servants dressed Kagura in a kimono even richer than the one she was wearing weighed down with beads of jade and other precious stones. There were more jewels for her to hang around her neck and fingers and to hang from her ears; and they laid out a banquet for her with food even more sumptuous than the day before. The food was served on dishes of ivory and gold with gold chopsticks and sake cups. And all day long servants played the biwa and shakuhachi. They recited haikus for her and did even more elaborate pantomimes; and they styled her hair in an elaborate fashion and strung pearls through her hair, and gave her a pedicure so her feet weren't as rough as they had been, and were respectful to her in every way. But when evening came they locked her in a bigger room than the night before filled to the beams with straw except around the spinning wheel.

"Sesshystiltzkin," Kagura said out loud, "if there was ever a time I needed you this is it!"

The young demon appeared before her. He bowed just as he had bowed this morning when he left as though he had been awaiting her summons all day.

"This time," Kagura said cheerfully, "at least I have something to offer you." Taking off her gold and jade earrings she continued, "And I've thought of a way out of this whole spinning ordeal: I'll tell the emperor that my magic spinning cannot be done more that three times for any one person. Three is a magical number you know." She unfastened the diamond and ruby necklace, but Sesshystiltzkin hadn't even taken the earrings yet. "What's the matter?." She asked concerned for her friend.

"Those aren't yours to give," He said simply. "Those are the emperor's."

"Ara," Kagura indicated her rings and the jewels sewn onto her outer kimono and obi.

Sesshystiltzkin shook his head. "Didn't the emperor pay you for the second roomful of gold?"

"No," Kagura responded. "He told me he would make me empress."

"I see," Sesshystiltzkin replied. "Well, that guy certainly has a way with words. First he says, 'Spin the straw into gold or I'll cut off your head.' Then he says, 'Spin the straw into gold or I'll cut off your head,' then he says, 'Spin this straw into gold and I'll marry you.' No wonder you want to marry him, the guy's obviously a true romantic."

"Now wait a minute!" Kagura exclaimed. "That's not fair. It's not every day a miller's daughter gets the chance to marry an emperor."

"No," Sesshystiltzkin replied softly, "I would imagine not." The young demon stared down at his pointed shoes as he spoke.

Kagura shuddered. Having come so far, she had finally allowed herself to think that she may actually survive her father's plan. She finally spoke. "I have nothing to offer you."

Sesshystiltzkin gazed at her for a long moment before answering. "Then, I shall do it for you for nothing."

Once again they worked together, Sesshystiltzkin bringing gold from his world into the locked room while Kagura tossed straw out the window. But while on the first night they had worked frantically hoping their plan would succeed and the emperor would be fooled, and the second night they had worked enjoying each other's company-this third night they had nothing to say to each other and worked silently and grimly.

As Kagura tossed the last handfuls of straw out the window she turned to the young demon who had helped her out three times and saved her neck; literally, and said, "Sesshystiltzkin, I-"

But he had already returned to his own world without a word of farewell, leaving Kagura to wait for the emperor alone in the breaking dawn.

The emperor was delighted with his new roomful of gold, but when Kagura told him that the laws of magic prevented her from spinning anymore gold for him, he complained bitterly that she had tricked him. Naraku was all for chopping off her head, but the emperor's advisors said that, since the royal marriage had already been announced, this was probably not a good idea.

And so the emperor and the miller's daughter were married.

The emperor made a decree that, as empress, Kagura was prohibited from doing common things such as spinning, and he used this excuse for why she no longer spun straw into gold. And as for the miller, the king pronounced him Master Miller of the province, and all other millers had to pay a tax to support him so that the emperor's father-in-law wouldn't have to soil his royally connected hands by manual labor.

But the emperor begrudged the gold that Kagura couldn't produce for him and the marriage was not a happy one.

Eventually Kagura announced that she was expecting a child. This made the emperor a bit happier; for he said it was about time he had an heir. As if he was the one giving birth. But when the child was born, it was a girl, and the emperor claimed that as a girl she wasn't a fit heir, he refused to even visit his new daughter.

"Name her what you wish to name her," the emperor told Kagura. "It's no concern of mine."

Kagura fought an urge to throw her chamber pot at the emperor's retreating form. Instead she sat on the window seat in the nursery and rocked her unnamed baby daughter back and forth, so furious her eyes filled with angry tears. She stared out the window so her tears wouldn't fall on the baby, for she was determined that the child would never learn how her own father did not love her.

From beside her, as soft voice said, "She's lovely," Kagura turned and saw Sesshystiltzkin gently touch the baby's tiny hand. "She's lovely," Sesshystiltzkin repeated. "She looks exactly like you. Why are you crying?"

It was the first time that Kagura had seen him in over a year, since that last morning in that roomful of gold. She wanted to tell him how much she had missed him and how happy she was to see him again. How she had thought of his kindness every day of her new life as an empress, but instead she blurted out how the emperor was disappointed to have a daughter instead of a son.

"Anyone with a working brain would be proud to have her as a daughter." Sesshystiltzkin replied icily. "But maybe you could tell the emperor that when she gets older she'll be able to spin straw into gold." He knelt beside Kagura. "I'll come back, and bring him three more rooms full."

"That's very sweet of you." Kagura replied softly. "But I'm sure he'd love her if he only stopped to think about it."

In a voice so quiet Kagura had to strain her ears to hear him, Sesshystiltzkin said, 'I don't believe that love is really something you stop to think about. It's either there or it's not."

"What I mean is," Kagura explained, "I'm sure he does love her, but he just doesn't realize it yet. Maybe I should tell him she's sick. If he's worried about her, he'll have to see how precious she is."

"But the servants would tell him that she isn't sick." Sesshystiltzkin pointed out gently. "You could tell him that a wicked old demon is going to steal her away unless…."

Sesshystiltzkin paused to consider and Kagura responded, "You don't look wicked, and I'm sure that as far as demons go you're not that old."

Sesshystiltzkin smiled at her, which made him look even less wicked and old.

It almost made Kagura wish…but that wish was much too dangerous to finish.

"We could tell him that you're the one who taught me to spin straw into gold." She said thinking quickly. "And that in exchange I promised you my first born child. The only way to break the agreement is…." Kagura sighed loudly. "Well, whatever it is that you ask of the emperor, it has to be something easy to make sure he can actually do it."

"But of course," Sesshystiltzkin agreed. "How easy?"

Kagura thought for a second and then replied, "He has to guess your name."

Sesshystiltzkin looked at her questioningly. "Easier than that," he suggested. "It's not that common of a name."

"Tell him you'll give him three days before you take the baby." Kagura answered. "Surely that will be enough time to arrange some way for somebody to learn your name."

But it wasn't as easy as Kagura had thought.

The emperor was too busy with councils and court decisions to even ask why a wicked demon wanted his daughter. "We're still young, we can have more children." He'd told her before rushing off to another meeting. But even so, he did have the servants in the castle write out a list of all the names they could think of.

The next day, when Sesshystiltzkin appeared in the throne room, the emperor read out every name they had, starting with Achika and ending with Zelda

Sesshystiltzkin shook his head after each name and when it was over he told them that they had only two more days, but they'd never guess.

The emperor had to be at the dedication of a new ship that day, but he ordered the councilors and scholars of the castle to look through all the old chronicles of history and put together a list of every name they found.

The next day Sesshystiltzkin again appeared in the throne room and the emperor read out every name beginning with Aachen and ending with Zwingli.

Once again Sesshystiltzkin shook his head after each name, but this time he gave Kagura a worried look before announcing that they had only one more day but they'd never guess. He was beginning to worry, Kagura could tell, that they never would.

The emperor had been invited to a hunting party with a neighboring emperor, but before he left he told the servants to search around the villages and surrounding forests and countryside to see if they could discover any new names.

As the servants trickled back home that evening and the next morning one after the other with no new names, or even new words to be used as names, Kagura decided that she would just have to blurt out Sesshystiltzkin and hope that the emperor didn't ask where she'd heard it.

Then the last of the castle servants returned.

"Good news your highness," this last man greeted her. "Although I searched all day yesterday without finding any new names, as I was riding back to the castle through the woods this morning I came across that same demon who's been threatening the young princess. Fortunately he didn't take any notice of me. And even more fortunate he was dancing around a campfire singing, 'Yo-ho, Sashaystitzkiln-'"

"I beg your pardon?" Kagura asked. "Sashaystitzkiln?"

The servant repeated the name incorrectly again, saying, "He sang, 'Yo-ho, Sashaystitzkiln is my name. Sashaystitzkiln, Sashaystitzkiln, Sashaystitzkiln. The emperor doesn't know it. The empress doesn't know it. Only I know it and I'm not telling that Sashaystitzkiln is my name.'"

Kagura stifled a giggle, "That's quite a song," she replied trying not to burst into gut wrenching laughter at the image of the normally dignified Sesshystiltzkin dancing around a campfire, and-after all that-the servant getting the name wrong. Still Sesshystiltzkin wouldn't complain that it wasn't exactly right. "Well," she agreed grinning, "this is indeed fortunate. You have our gratitude, mine and the emperor's."

At least Kagura hoped the emperor would feel gratitude, or at the very least, feign it.

Sesshystiltzkin appeared in the throne room at the appointed time, but the emperor was late getting back from an appointment with the royal wigmaker. When the emperor did finally arrive, laughing and carrying on with his companions he didn't appear nearly as worried as Sesshystiltzkin felt.

"We have discovered a likely name," Kagura announced to the emperor.

"Oh, that's nice." He replied absently, fluffing his new wig, which was even curlier than his other two hundred wigs.

Look at me, Kagura thought furiously at him. For Kami sake at least look at your daughter!

But the emperor looked at his reflection in his gold hand mirror and blew kisses to himself.

Hugging her daughter close, Kagura turned to Sesshystiltzkin, who was looking at them. No one can change straw into gold, Kagura thought to herself suddenly. Some things are just straw and some things are just gold, and sometimes you just have to figure out for yourself, which is which.

She walked past the emperor and laid her free hand on Sesshystiltzkin's arm, looking up into the young demon's eyes she said, "Take us with you."

So Sesshystiltzkin put his arm around Kagura and stepped sideways, as always, between the particles.

The emperor, of course hired his own publicist and messengers to spread the news of what happened. But as for Sesshystiltzkin and Kagura, they lived happily ever after. And it was Sesshystiltzkin who chose the name for Kagura's baby girl. He called her Abigail, which means "a father's joy."

The End

Thank you:

Aamalie, SweetAngie7, Punkbabysitter, ZeldaChic04, InuYaska, MapleRose and Jenna.