Chapter One: If Memory Serves Me…

The haunting howl of the night wind trailed down the halls in a rush, with it her hair fluttering about her face. She had to reach up and push the wayward strands out of her eyes, tucking them behind her ears before continuing down the dark corridor.

Beyond, in the distance, her destination could be seen. An open doorway; the doors were made of glass and from her position she could barely make out the edge of the balcony on the other side. Thunder crashed outside and moments later a spark of electric illumination filled the halls.

Her eyes were shifting with the storm, trying to adjust enough to the changes in the light to make out the shapes and figures of the hallway. She could feel her pulse begin to race as she passed the many trinkets and paintings that had become too familiar to her. Now they appeared foreign and frightening with their change.

Then she was lightly padding to the doorway, her light cotton nightgown brushing against the carpet beneath her bare feet. Her eyes darted around and in the next flash of light she saw him standing there, rain pouring down his slender form and silver strands flipping around him angrily.

For a few moments she merely stood there, wide eyed and confused. Someone was in her house! When he began to turn she felt her lungs burn as she tried to draw in a ragged breath, the cool night air entering her and chilling her thoroughly. Amber met Sapphire and she let out a small startled cry that came out twisted and strained.

"You! You are… no that can't be possible! You're…."

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center b One Year Earlier /b /center

The smack of the car door brought Kagome out of her mindless wanderings and she sighed, crawling out of the passenger seat and closing her door gently before turning to face her fuming mother. "This had better be good, Kagome!"

Her mother turned sharply and began to march towards the school, irritation radiating off her for miles. Inwardly the girl felt herself groan in desperation. She knew this would not end well. With a little sigh she slumped her shoulders and followed after her mother, entering the principal's waiting room and sitting next to her mother on a dusty couch. Looking around the ugly room she frowned at the distaste of the decorator. What did they do? Purposely find every gaudy color they could and then hit blend?

Moments later they were sitting behind the desk of the principal, he had her record in his hands and was tapping it lightly with a pencil before flipping it closed and handing it over to her mother. "As you can see here, Mrs. Higurashi your daughter has begun a steady decline in her efforts to maintain her grades. While we understand that she has been considerably ill over the past year and a half, since her recovery began she has made little time to repair her record."

Kagome's mother sat forward on the chair and sighed, opening the file and scanning the document slowly. "So what can she do?"

The principal shook his head slowly and frowned. "I'm afraid there isn't much that can be done. If her absences and lack of make-up work had not exceeded more than six months of time then she might have been able to go through with a summer program which we use to boost children in unusual situations, such as this. However, because of the extent of time that has already elapsed I'm afraid there is little the public school system can do for her."

"Can't I just take another grade over again?" Kagome asked, hoping to come up with a solution so that her mother didn't explode.

"No. You're beyond the age where you're allowed to remain in school for the full term you would need. By the time you obtained all the credits you need you would already be 21, almost 22 according to our records. We have limitations on the ages of our students." The man stood and went over to stand near his window, staring out the blinds into the blaring sun-lit afternoon. "There are few options available at this point. You could, if you can afford such a luxury, attend a private school. Their age regulations are less strict and then you could easily pass just a year and a half behind your peers. Or, you can forget all of this and when the term is over you may go."

"Go?" Her eyes widened and she looked at her mother in confusion.

"Honey, he means that if you don't go to private school that you'll have to find a job." Her mother supplied before shaking her head and closing the file slowly, sliding it across the desk again. "Well, thank you for your time. I appreciate your informing me of this."

"I am sorry to have to be the one to bear such bad news, Mrs. Higurashi."

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It had taken her nearly four years. To complete the Shikon and the ninth grade again while doing it. She had failed her classes miserably and had to repeat the entire grade, her constant absences hadn't helped matters. Kagome felt used. Not that she could jump up and scream to the world: "I just saved your sorry butts and this is the thanks I get?" that would be against her character. Besides, it would be horribly embarrassing. Her family was proud of what she had done in the Sengoku-jidai; they supported her journey thoroughly and did their best in supplying her with everything they could.

However, that could not save her future. Her education was lost somewhere along the way during the worst of the times, when it had seemed as if they were so close to finally completing the jewel only to have their nemesis come forward and strike them down. Once, they had believed they got him. That one time they had truly found every shard there was to get that wasn't had by the evil han'yō, Naraku. But at the last moment, before Kagome's blinding arrow struck him he managed to do the unthinkable. A shower of energy spread across the skies and with it the shards of the Shikon jewel, now primarily tainted with the han'yō's dark energy.

Naraku had been felled for a long while, the wind sorceress Kagura taking him up before InuYasha could completely destroy him and fleeing the scene. Kagome had fallen to her knees, weak from loss of energy and angered at her enemy far beyond she had ever been before. How dare he? Now she was here for longer! Now her life would continue this façade of normalcy but never find its way back to some semblance of it. Miroku came up to her, asking gently if she were all right, and she merely nodded and waved him off to tend to Sango who still clutched her brother's corpse to her breast tightly, eyes wide in disbelief.

They had lost so much today, on this day that they had believed they could defeat their common enemy. Sometimes Kagome wondered if the fates themselves were laughing at her behind her back. It certainly seemed that way. A voice broke her inner turmoil, turning her anger outward easily. "You were not prepared." She stood, roughly wiping the dirt from her bare knees before turning to face the imposing figure. When did he get here? Had he merely watched the whole event and chosen not to assist?

"Hello Sesshōmaru, so nice of you to bother and announce your own presence well after the danger is gone!" Her voice was raised and slightly grated, sounding harsh, and her eyes were flashing with an anger that had to be released on someone. The stoic yōkai before her was the perfect target. Turning slightly she glanced behind her to see InuYasha still wielding the Tessaiga and trying his best to taunt Kagura back. It wasn't working and it wouldn't. The little witch was not stupid. She needed Naraku not to die before she could free her so-called siblings. Rolling her eyes at him she decided to let him do as he pleased and turned her aggression back to Sesshōmaru. "So what do you have to say for yourself? Just why are you here anyway, some sick form of entertainment?"

For a few moments he said nothing and merely assessed the scene before him with careful eyes. Then when he was satisfied that he had all the information he could observe he settled his gaze on Kagome, slightly raising an eyebrow at her attitude. "Do not forget whom you speak to, miko. This Sesshōmaru has been following your entourage for some time now." He watched, inwardly amused, when a great deal of her anger subsided to be replaced with shock as her mouth fell open slightly. "It became apparent that Naraku would appear to fight you soon. If you and your companions fell then this Sesshōmaru had already decided to take matters unto his own hand."

She frowned at that and sighed, shaking her head in disbelief. "Instead of helping us while we were able you decided that waiting until we died was the better option?" He, too, frowned but not at what she said it was at her implications and manner. Rude bitch, she really should have been beaten into submission a long time ago. Humans were a stupid race, however, so it was their demise and not his own. He looked away from her then, face going blank again, and turned his gaze to the approaching InuYasha.

"What are you doing here? Come to see a real sword in action?" Sesshōmaru's eyes lowered slightly, tightening his look into a glare as InuYasha neared more. His half-brother was always rude and stupid; he hoped that it was not some chaotic gene that traveled in their father's side. If that were the case he would have to drown any future pups that displayed that temperament just to weed it out, an unwelcome idea. Without responding to the boy he turned back to look at the miko who was, oddly enough, giving the han'yō a disapproving glare as well. She obviously had not liked being interrupted.

"You require more training. This Sesshōmaru chose the option he did merely because he believed you to be adequate in power to destroy Naraku. Obviously, this Sesshōmaru was mistaken." He turned to leave, without saying a word or sparing a glance. Kagome merely stood there, mouth wide open now and eyes blinking in wonder as she digested what he said and what he implied. If he really believed that she was strong enough to destroy Naraku once and for all then the likelihood of that being true was very high, right? Sesshōmaru might be a number of horrible things but he was no liar.