16-year-old Kagome Higurashi squealed as her wet, soapy fingers failed the grab the edge of the plate. Kagome squeezed her eyes shut as the sound of glass breaking rang through the garden-size kitchen. Again.

Maids around Kagome shook their heads and chuckled among themselves, causing Kagome to blush five shades of red.

Even though Kagome had been working here for the last year, she had a lot to learn about washing dishes. And lots of other stuff as well.

Kagome's already red face deepened as maids smirked at her. Quickly, she bent to pick up the scattered glass under her. As fast as she could, she gathered them in her hands, ignoring the cuts the glass gave her. After gathering the glass, she shoved her thumb into her mouth to suck on the blood that started to spill, and dumped away the fifth dish she broke in the last two hours.

Bowing in apology, Kagome backed away from the kitchen, embarrassed. Quickly, she shuffled out of the huge glass doors and into the mile long hallway, and stepped onto the gorgeous velvet red carpet. She placed a hand on her burning cheek and groaned. " If Kikyou or my Majesty finds out I broke another dish .. they'll absolutely .. "

" Kagome ! " a ear-piercing shriek blasted into Kagome's eardrums

Too late.

" .. freak. " Kagome finished with another groan. Great, here comes all mighty Lady Kikyou ..

A girl, perhaps seventeen or sixteen, strolled over to Kagome with cold grey eyes. Her white and red kimono dragged itself gracefully across the red carpet to Kagome, who had sank onto the floor. The princess's long raven black hair was tied into a loose ponytail by a lace and contrast to her hair, her skin was extremely pale.

Though looking fairly pale and having black, black hair sound quite scary, Kikyou breaks that stereotype theory. The princess was a beauty, a rare find at that. Princes would come all over the lands to claim her as their own but Kikyou refused. Though Kagome didn't know why Kikyou would turn those gorgeous princes down, Kagome would never know.

Well .. how would she when they don't even talk. Or .. rather Kikyou doesn't talk.

Kagome had tried every way possible to strike up a simple conversation with her older ' stepsister ' before, but has finally found out there is no way to get a mere word out of the older girl. Sighing, Kagome forced her head up to the princess standing above her.

Though Kagome really never considered Kikyou as a stepsister, she has no other choice. When Kagome was 14, she lived in a poor peasant town with a poor family. They scarcely had enough to feed on and Kagome worked night and day to earn an inadequate meal. Finally, Kagome's single mother couldn't take it any longer. Keeping Kagome's younger brother, Souta, with her, Kagome's mother sold Kagome to a sympathetic priest in a wealthier town.

After working for a year in the town, Kagome realized that there were many dirty things that happened in the long nights at the village. At night, she would bury her head into the wooden floor to drown out the sounds of forced intercourse. But worse came to worse when a man tried to assault Kagome while she was working alone in an alley. Knocking him out with a bucket she had been filling up with water, Kagome ran away from the town, having no intention of returning.

For days, Kagome wandered around the lands wearily, lost and hungry. So on one day, Kagome fainted in exhaustion and lack of food, shelter, and bitter loneliness. That's when a passing guard saw Kagome, and quickly brought her to his home. The palace.

Kagome never liked Kikyou, and Kikyou never liked her as well. Kagome didn't hate Kikyou, but wasn't very happy how Kikyou treated her. Like a slave, a commoner. Kagome didn't know why Kikyou despised her so much, since she couldn't think of anything she did wrong. But the day the King and the Queen accepted Kagome as their second daughter, Kikyou would grimace in disgust at the sight of Kagome. Maybe it the reason was because Kagome looked so much like her.

Kagome shuddered. The thought of how similar they looked sent chills up Kagome's spine. Sure, they both have pale skin and long black hair, with extraordinary similar features, Kagome could write out a list of how they were different from each other. For instance, Kagome had chocolate brown eyes, while Kikyou had dull grey eyes. Kagome was a brighter, more optimistic person, while Kikyou the total opposite. Kikyou's distant mood never really made sense to Kagome, but Kagome knew she wouldn't find out any time soon.

Kagome narrowed her usual soft brown eyes into menacing slits as the older girl approached her. " What do you want, Kikyou ? "

Kikyou stiffened at Kagome's harsh tone, but remained as passive as ever. " That's Lady Kikyou, my dearest little stepsister, " Kikyou retorted coldly, feeling pleased as Kagome instantly stiffened.

Kagome clenched her fists as her teeth gritted. Kikyou always looked as her as the ' little one ' .. and it was getting onto Kagome's nerves. Being older doesn't mean everything, but it was in this house. Er, palace.

" Lady Kikyou, " Kagome repeated after the older girl sweetly, " What is it you inquire of me, young princess, high of all gods, almighty, great .. "

" You broke another dish. " Kikyou interrupted, obviously annoyed of Kagome's fake sweet behavior.

Kagome held the urge to roll her eyes but just shrugged instead. " You have plenty of dishes here, Kik .. er .. Lady Kikyou. Your parents are the great King and Queen .. surely you have other things to worry about then a single dish. " Kagome was surprised at how polite she had sounded, even though she just wanted to scream her head off at her stepsister.

Kikyou narrowed her eyes at Kagome, who innocently peered at the older girl. " Don't play dumb with me, Kagome. Since you came here, you broke 165 dishes. And if this continues, we won't have any dishes left by the end of the next year. "

Kagome frowned, knowing Kikyou was right. But they were royalty, they could probably get all the dishes they wanted in the world, but why pick on her ? It wasn't her fault her stupid fingers won't cooperate.

" Sorry Lady Kikyou, I'll try to remember that next time. " Kagome apologized as she got up and bowed. Even though she wasn't sorry at all.

Kikyou lifted her chin at Kagome, who in return lifted her chin as well. Before the two could send daggers at each other, the King and Queen walked in.

Quickly, Kagome got down on her knees, and Kikyou bowed her head at her parents and stepped off the carpet. Even though Kagome was on her knees, she could see Kikyou's bowed head fuming. She probably hated to be so respectful to her parents, it would probably drive Kagome crazy to if she had to wait for her parents to lift their fork into their mouths at dinner before she could. If they decided to talk before eating, Kagome would probably die from starvation, since the King and the Queen tend to babble a lot.

Sending Kikyou her best sympathetic look, Kagome looked back down onto the red carpet. Hmm .. she's been looking at it for quite a while now. It is pretty soft ..

" My dearest daughter, Kikyou .. I see you have arrived before us to scold young Kagome for terrorizing another piece of furniture. " Kagome blushed a deep shade of red as she heard the King chuckle.

Kagome also heard Kikyou stiffen and nod. " Yes father, I made sure she no longer break another plate. "

The King chuckled as the Queen smiled at the young girl on the floor. " You may stand up, Kagome. " The Queen gently said.

Quickly, Kagome got off the floor and hastily brushed herself, keeping her head low. " Yes your Majesty. "

The King turned to Kikyou, " Daughter, I don't believe Kagome will not break another dish, but thank you for telling her. But for that, Kagome, you may wash the hall we stand on tonight. "

Kagome inwardly groaned, as she quickly glanced at the hall they stood on. It looked like it would never end, like a endless pathway to heaven .. and she had to clean it. So much for sleeping early ..

Kagome watched as the King and the Queen made their way down the hall, with servants and guards bowing on the way, and sighed. She was never going to get out of being a maid and onto being a real daughter. She knew she never would though, considering that she was adopted.

Adopted. Kagome clenched her fists. She hated that word. It just reminded her she would never be better than the perfect princess, Kikyou. She would always remain the shadow, who would look hauntingly like the older princess, and will never reign over her. Not that Kagome wanted to ..

Kikyou cleared her throat, breaking Kagome's negative thoughts. " You better start girl, for this hallway is quite long. "

Kagome rolled her eyes, " No duh, Sherlock. "

Kikyou narrowed her eyes at the younger girl but didn't say a word. Instead, she turned and walked away.

Breathing a sigh of relief, Kagome groaned as she squinted at the length of the hallway. Sighing again, Kagome began to search for a bucket and a mop. This is going to be a long day ..

===

Kagome woke up with the sound of loud voices, erupting in an upsetting argument. Kagome groaned as she rolled out of her wooden bed, trying to ignore the screaming pains her back was giving her. She stretched and walk slowly across the big room, filled with cheap furniture. So much for living in a luxurious palace.

Another loud cry. It sounded like Kikyou against the King and the Queen.Wincing at the volume, Kagome covered her ears. She yawned and rubbed the sleep away from her eyes before ascending into the long hallway she spent all night, scrubbing to perfection.

When Kagome finally arrived downstairs to the dining table, the argument was over. And by the way Kikyou was pouting, she had lost the quarrel, whatever it was.

Kagome trudged toward her regular seat in the middle of the long table and sat down quietly, her eyes flickering to her Majesties at one end, and Kikyou in the other.

The awkward silence was really nice.

Kagome cleared her throat, trying to break the tension. " Um .. good morning .. " Kagome groaned. Stupid, stupid, stupid. Smart thing to do when there was just a uncomfortable argument between the most important people in the land and their daughter. I probably sounded like I was all that ..

Surprisingly, the Queen turned her head to Kagome and smiled warmly. " Good morning, Kagome. Did you have a nice sleep ? "

Kagome nodded timidly. " Yes, your majesty. " she lied. Yeah, if you mean falling to bed at four in the morning then waking up at seven a ' nice sleep '.

The Queen nodded, " That's nice Kagome, now .. how about some eggs ? Tsuybaki handpicked them fresh from the .. "

" MOTHER, IT'S JUST NOT FAIR ! " Kikyou finally exploded at the breakfast table.

The Queen frowned at Kikyou's sudden outburst and shook her head, " I'm sorry Kikyou, but this is out of your power to change what has been planned before you were even born. "

Kikyou let out a desperate cry that sounded strangled, " Why do I have to go tonight ? Such late notice ! " When Kikyou realized her parents' expression had not changed, she put in a more desperate tone in her voice and pressed on, " But what if he's a real jerk to me, mother ? What if he beats me and hurt me ? What if .. what if .. "

Kikyou let out a desperate sob and sniffed in her tears. She looked terrible. The usual passive, in control Kikyou, has peeled off her outer layer.

Throughout Kikyou's outburst, Kagome remained quiet. She has never, never seen Kikyou erupt like that. She was usual calm and stoic, and never show her emotions. Guess this shows how much Kagome doesn't know about Kikyou.

" Darling, " The King spoke up, his bellowing voice sending Kagome's hackles to rise. " I am sorry that you think that, but the Prince you have to marry is well disciplined. If he wasn't, I wouldn't want you to marry him, now would I ? " In a surprisingly soothing voice, the King continued. " Besides, I never said you couldn't meet him. I have planned with the King and the Queen on the other side that you could stay with them for three months, and meet the young prince before you marry him. But Kikyou, I am warning you .. after the three months are up, no matter how much you dislike him, you will be force to tie the knot with this young man. This was planned way before you were born, and if you two marry, it will do good to both of our kingdoms. For demons and humans have never joined, and this way, we can make legend. "

Seeing that Kikyou had calmed a bit, the King and the Queen smiled and stood up. " Do not worry, my darling Kikyou. You won't be going alone, "

Kikyou froze and Kagome dropped her fork on her plate, letting a ' ping ' echo in the sudden silence that fell upon them all.

Kikyou narrowed her eyes slowly at her parents, her teeth baring. " P-Pardon .. me ? "

Her parents frowned, " Kikyou, you will not glare at your parents, and you won't ever. And what your mother said was right .. you won't be going alone. " The King turned to Kagome and placed a large hand over her small shoulders. " Kagome will be going with you. "

That did it.

Both Kagome and Kikyou's jaws fell open and both shouted, " WHAT ?! " at the same time.

The Majesties looked a bit taken aback at their sudden outburst, fazed for a brief second by how similar they looked that time. Quickly, the King lifted his chin up and narrowed his eyes. " Never .. I repeat, never ..use the word ' what ' in my presence again. And preferably, out of my presence as well. "

Kagome quickly muttered an apology as Kikyou bowed her head. This can't be happening .. Kagome's mind screamed as she clasped her hands tightly together.

Seeing that that was cleared up, the Queen stepped up behind Kikyou. " Yes, young Kagome will be going with you, my daughter. I believe you two will cooperate, and have a good time .. " Ignoring the sudden stiffness both girls contracted, the Queen continued. " Kikyou, you will meet this young hanyou and fall in love with his presence. As for Kagome, " The Queen gave Kagome a encouraging smile, " You will look after the two and make sure the prince does not make fool of our precious Kikyou. "

For a moment, there was silence. Not an uncomfortable one, but a thoughtful one. Kikyou had let her head dip to her chest as Kagome released her clasped, now pale hands. Kagome's head began to throb as realization dawned upon her. I'm going to a faraway kingdom I am no familiar with .. with KIKYOU. I rather go alone then go with her ! It's going to be so awkward .. argh .. I HATE awkwardness .. if it was with myself, at least I wouldn't have to worry about not talking with anybody. I could always talk to myself ..

As Kagome mentally kicked herself for thinking such stupid thing, Kikyou stood up and bowed to her parents. " Father, mother, I believe Kagome and I should start packing. If you please excuse me, I'll get the servants to start packing mine. Farewell. " Kikyou gave her parents another polite bow and strolled out the room as Kagome tried to swallow the pang of jealousy that hit her stomach when she saw how graceful Kikyou could be. Kikyou was always graceful ..

" Well, Kagome, " the King's voice broke into Kagome's thoughts. " You should start packing, your trip leaves tonight. "

Quickly, Kagome stood up and bowed to the elders in front of her. " Yes I will, your majesty. "

The King and then Queen nodded to Kagome that she may leave, and she did. Hastily. Too hastily.

Turning around, Kagome rushed to the door, afraid they might ask her to see if the prince is a good kisser or not. In her sudden panic, she slipped on her way to the door and slammed into it, then falling on her butt.

Before the King or the Queen to rush to help the young girl, she quickly picked herself up and bowed to them. " I'm okay .. I meant to do that. Err .. bye ! " Then she disappeared behind the big golden doors.

The King and the Queen sighed, smiling after the young innocent girl.

===

Kagome climbed onto the carriage awaiting for her, and she quickly sunk into the soft velvet seats inside. She loved the feeling of the soft material against her skin, since she's never really felt such softness except when she bowed down to her Majesties on the carpet. Other than that, she never felt anything so soft.

Kagome was glad she got her own carriage, she wouldn't want to be in the same one as Kikyou anyway. That would be freaky. The aAawkKwarnDdNess .. =)

Kagome was pushed back by the sudden pull of the carriage, and Kagome felt herself being pulled forward inside. She grinned and felt her stomach to flip flops. Maybe this won't be so bad after all. I mean, what could possibly happen ? Hmm .. I wonder what the prince would be like .. hope he's cute ! Tee hee .. Kagome blushed as the thought occurred to her. Maybe he would ride out like a shining knight in an armor. Wait. He's a demon. Ookay .. maybe not .. but maybe he might arrive on a tail of fire or something really cool .. Kagome continued to dream on, as the horses in front of her pulled her along. Time just faded away as Kagome imagined the prince with golden blond hair, big baby blue eyes, a nice smile with a set of straight teeth, and a mature look on his pretty boy face, with a super sweet personality to top it all off, riding to her on a chariot of fluffy clouds ..

But Kagome has no idea.

A/N : New story, weee ! – throws confetti –