Title: Duty and Honor
Author: Personification of Fluff
Author: R, for violence and adult situations
Summary: Rin is an adult now, working for Sesshomaru as liason to the humans living in his lands. But their relationship, now that of lord and lady, becomes rocky when Sesshomaru's lands are under threat of invasion, and what's worse: Inuyasha's daughter is stranded in the Sengoku Jidai! Will Sesshomaru and Rin finally own up to their true feelings only to leave each other when war erupts, or will duty and honor win out?
Sesshomaru: Ruler of the land once known as 'Masashi's Domain'
Hatsuhana: A distant relative or Sesshomaru's and rich lord
Captain James Cook: Leader of the European explorers
Jaken: Sesshomaru's personal advisor
Tetsuya: A friendly monk from a village near Arashi's shrine
Kohaku: Arashi's uncle and Kissaki's father, a farmer and ex-demon exterminator
Shippo: A fox-demon orphan
Aun: A loyal, two-headed reptilian steed
Arashi: The priestess of the shrine one day known as the Higurashi shrine
Rin: A lady in Sesshomaru's service
Kaede: A young girl trapped from the future with a demonic heritage
Kissaki: A warrior and demon-exterminator
Hikari: A lady in-waiting in Sesshomaru's court
Sakura: Kissaki's mother, Arashi's aunt
Author's Notes: (reads her cast list) Oh my God… It's Inuyasha…. All over again… only everyone is female! (No, not really, but I wanted to say it before one of you did!) The premise of this book is a continuation of CaU, explaining what happened in the Sengoku Jidai after Sango and Miroku died. You don't necessarily have to read it to know what happened (for some reason, not everyone is a fan of Sango and Miroku), but it might help. And… yes, they talk funny in the fic. No, I'm not trying to make it sound older by talking like Shakespeare, but I am trying to use proper grammar and give them a more extensive vocabulary. After all, this is a story about court intrigue, and what's the court without aristocracy?
It was all an accident.
I have to make this perfectly clear before I start my story. It was all an accident.
It was accidental that poor Kaede-chan, Kagome and Inuaysha's daughter, became stuck in this world. It was all an accident that she had brought the Tetsusaiga with her, as she always did. The demon blood is stronger, it seems, in the past, when our more dangerous world increases the chance of its power being needed. It was all an accident that I was sent there the morning after Kaede-chan revealed herself to Arashi-sama, and the young priestess knew she had made a mistake.
Everything following these things, I believe, are accidents as well.
And so, you see, I have learned to like accidents very much.
But I suppose that really, this story begins a few weeks before the incidents I have already mentioned.
As soon as anyone hears that tone in Sesshomaru's voice, they know that they're about to get it. I've been hearing that voice since I was eight years old, and given my age when this was happening, it comes to a grand total of twenty-six years that I've been hearing Sesshomaru say 'Rin this' or 'Rin that' in a tone that would have made men twice my age pee their pants in fear. I was born under luck stars, it seemed.
I stood up from my patch of earth I was tending, dusting off my kimono and smiling as Lord Sesshomaru approach me from the castle, our home now for many years, more years than I can remember. "Yes, my lord?" I asked sweetly, being polite as I always was to Sesshomaru. I narrowed my eyes a little as Jaken toddled behind him.
For some reason, I still wanted to throw things at Jaken. A lot. Heavy things, too.
Sesshomaru's gold eyes ran up and down my body as he stood across from me. I held his gaze a moment, and then looked down at the ground. Sometimes, when he looked at me like that, I could almost imagine that it was longing I saw in his eyes for me, but I knew that he would never, ever, want me like that. I didn't even want him like that, not most of the time. But every once in a while, he would look at me, or he would get close enough to me that I would be able to feel the warmth of his body and smell his powerful scent, and I would wish that he would just reach out and hold me and kiss me, and finally, for once, act like I was a fully grown woman and not like an eight year old child!
He gestured towards one of the walking paths littering around our—his, his—manicured lawns. "Walk with me, Rin."
Jaken scurried back off toward the mansion, and I obediently followed Sesshomaru around the paths, never more than one step behind him. I looked around at the gardens, simply enjoying the way the sun was beating down on us, heating my skin, and the way the colorful flowers appealed to me. I do so love flowers. I never looked down at the ground when I walked besides Sesshomaru-sama. I was proud to be with, proud to work with, him. I had come a long way from being the girl who had to sneak around behind people's backs.
"Rin," Sesshomaru eventually said, when we were far enough away from the house that the demons who worked there wouldn't be able to hear or see us. "Rin, when will you take a human husband and settle down?"
Okay, I had been exaggerating when I said that I wished he would notice I wasn't eight years old anymore. Every year since I had turned thirteen, he had asked me that very question: when would I get a mortal husband and have a child? And every year since I had turned thirteen, I had given him the same answer. He'd asked me once every year, always on the same day: the day that he had brought me back to life.
I couldn't remember when my real birthday was, and so I had always counted that day as my birthday. It was a birth, of sorts. I sighed mentally. 'Congratulations, Rin,' I told myself. 'You're now thirty-four. When will you realize that he's never going to be interested in you? You're human! He doesn't like humans. Not even you, Rin.'
"I will marry a human male when I find one I like," I answered, just as I always did.
"You still haven't found anyone who interests you?"
"No, Sesshomaru-sama, I have not."
He turned around, looking at me. I concentrated on the way his silver hair moved gently back and forth, rather than the way he was looking at me sternly. "Rin, I wish you would go and settle down and have children before your body tires of this life. I would have found a mortal man for you years ago, if I were your father. The fact that I have an unmarried woman your age as a…."
"Pardon me, Lord Sesshomaru," I interrupted, slowly looking at him levelly. He was surprised that I interrupted him. I think the last time that I had cut him off was when I had been sixteen years old and in the middle of a hormonal-storm. After that, no matter how much I wanted to have a mood swing and cut him off, I kept my tongue. I never wanted to see him look that mad at me again.
Now, though, he didn't look mad, he just looked surprised. I was a little shocked myself. But if I ever heard him say the words "if I was your father" again, I think I'd run him through with his own sword. Or maybe I'd just take his other arm. That would be punishment enough.
"Pardon me, but you are not my father. Secondly, you know very well that despite what other aristocratic demons may think of you keeping a human as a retainer, I am worth too much to you politically to ever let me go. If you did, you'd have to train some new human to be able to act accordingly in both human and demon societies to be able to represent you in places where you can't go. Even if you don't age like humans do, it's a waste of valuable energy to train someone new while I am still here, Lord Sesshomaru." I blinked coolly, still keeping my gaze level to his. "Is there anything else you wish to discuss with me, my Lord? If you don't, I do have duties to which to attend."
"And what duties might be so important that they would take you from the company of your lord?"
I felt myself blushing a little bit. "I want to finish tending to my flowers, Sesshomaru-sama."
My voice was softer than it had been before, and my eyes demurely snuck back to look at the direction of my tiny little flower bed. The flowers were beautiful, and apparently came from very far away. They were a fiery shade of yellow-orange, and they grew as tall as my thigh. They were dotted with little black marks, and they smelled beautiful. They grew in that little patch every year since we had first occupied the mansion. I could smell them from my bedroom window, and none of the gardeners were allowed to touch the little row of tiger-lilies if I was away.
I could tell from his silence that he was not impressed with my excuse. I turned back to him, my gaze hovering around the edge of his armor, not quite looking down, but not looking at his eyes either. "I also need to prepare myself for supper, my lord. I don't want to dishonor you by looking improper in front of your guests. I am lucky to be allowed to eat dinner at your table, and I do not want to lose that honor, my lord. After dinner it will be too dark for me to finish my gardening."
"And I want to have another lesson with you as well," Sesshomaru said in his cold voice. If someone didn't know what exactly our lessons were, they might have been afraid for me, but I was already looking forward to after dinner. He turned away from me, continuing to walk along the paths behind the house. "Very well, Rin. Carry on with your plants. I will see you at dinner." He paused a moment, and he glanced over his shoulder at me, his gold eyes capturing my gaze for a moment. "This time, be certain to get the dirt from under your nails. You forgot last time."
I have been very lucky in life since I was eight years old. I can't recall what my luck was like before that. Perhaps people would be worried when I say that I like leaving with the demons that I do, particularly when one meets Jaken or Seshsomaru-sama in one of his moods, but I do like it. I'm lucky. I always have a meal on the table, and a bit of spending money in my purse, and clothes to wear on my back.
Sesshomaru-sama always cares for me… sometimes too much. Since he had gotten back his father's title, once again ruling over the western lands of Nippon, he was always making sure that I had everything I wanted in life. He gave me pretty dresses, and things for my hair… anything a girl could want. I tried thanking him for them many times, and saying that they weren't necessary, but he says they are. As one of his personal servants at the palace and abroad, he says that I need to look proper, otherwise it would make him look bad.
But sometimes… I wonder. When I walked back to my room from the garden, I found another kimono laying out on my bed, waiting for me to wear it to dinner. I sighed when I saw it there, though I smiled. Hikari was already in my room, pulling out some hair things and smiling at me.
"He got you another dress," she teased. I sighed as I shut the screen door, making her laugh. "If you don't like this one, I do. It's a very pretty color, Lady Rin."
"I agree, Hikari-sama," I said, stepping forward and gently touching the silken material. It was a deep shade of red-orange, so that when one held it to the light, it drifted back and forth lazily between the two colors. The way it seemed to flow reminded me of Seshsomaru-sama. He always seemed to flow: the way he moved, the way his hair drifted in the wind, the way his clothes moved… It was also in my favorite color. It was things like that, things that showed his attention to detail, that made me wonder about Sesshomaru-sama sometimes and which kept my hopes kindled even after all these years.
If he really did care about me, if he really didn't want me around, would he go to the trouble of getting me a kimono in my favorite color? Would he go to the trouble of giving me my tiger-lilies? Would he let me play in the garden even though I'm past middle age?
Hikari helped to dress me and do up my hair for supper. She was the woman that Sesshomaru had hired to help me when I was home from around his lands. Sesshomaru-sama had made a nice choice. She was very sweet and polite, and extremely pretty… and extremely human looking for a demon. Sesshomaru-sama looked a little like a very pretty human, for all his pointy ears and his fangs and eyes and the marks on his cheek. Hikari, on the other hand, actually looked human. She had brown eyes which glowed in the night, and the clear, porcelain-like skin many human-demons seemed to have, and this hair that shimmered like mica in the light. She reminded me, actually, a lot of Kagome-sama…
Whom no one ever talked of. No one brought up Kagome-sama, or Sango-sama, or the matter of Lord Sesshomaru's younger half-brother. I haven't heard the name of Inuyasha since Naraku disappeared over two decades ago. At times I wondered if Sesshomaru-sama had forgotten about his half-brother. I doubt that he has, or that he ever will. At even rarer times, though, I wonder why. Does he still want to fight his half-brother, maybe even kill Inuyasha-sama, simply because he doesn't want to have humans in his bloodline? Or does he want to kill Inuyasha because Inuyasha-sama was able to take down Naraku with the help of his adventuring friends and Sesshomaru-sama wants to kill the man able to defeat someone so evil as Naraku?
I suspect the reasons may be quite simpler… Lord Sesshomaru is a complicated man… demon, but he is as direct as the rest of us. Sometimes too direct. People are sacred of him, and respect him, and the directness kept people from ever bringing up Kagome and Inuyasha.
When I was ready for dinner, ready to try and look presentable for Sesshomaru-sama and his distinguished guests, I was wearing the red-orange silk kimono he had gotten me. Hikari had somehow managed to pin every one of my thick strands of hair in place. I walked down the hallway with my head held high. I felt proud, and prouder when I saw Sesshomaru-sama standing at the junction of two hallways, waiting for me.
I stuck my hands out for him to inspect when I neared him, smiling childishly up at him. Over thirty and I still only reach his shoulder. "Not a single speck of dirt, Sesshomaru-sama."
"Hm," he replied. His eyes moved up and down my body. I had to bite the inside of my cheek to keep from moving under his intensely golden gaze. "You look presentable," he decided, to which I blushed. Lord Sesshomaru is always sparse with his praise, and even when he does compliment people, they are always simple compliments. I have never heard him say 'pretty', or 'beautiful'.
"Thank you, Sesshomaru-sama."
I walked into the dining room behind him. The guests, already present and seated, stood up respectfully when he entered. I quietly sneaked down to the far end of the darkly colored table. My head was still held high. Sesshomaru-sama took his spot at the head of the table. I smiled at Kouga and Ayame as I walked by them, taking my seat next to the wolf-princess.
Servants began to serve tea and blood-wine. The alcoholic drink went to the demons, the tea to Ayame and I. The fermented drink was far too strong for me to drink. Sometimes the smell of it alone was enough to make me a little bit tipsy. If a demon could actually become intoxicated from it, then it was obviously not meant for human consumption. Besides, I had no palate for blood-wine. Though I had been learning about demon culture since Sesshomaru-sama had raised me, I was human, and I dared not drink blood; that was something demons only did.
Knowing my distaste for the drink, Ayame was kind enough to pass up the chance at the delicacy while I was around, and drank tea with me. Kouga, beside her, drank the blood-wine with the other demons. She said it was because he didn't want the other demons to forget that though Lord Sesshomaru had seized control of this domain, he was still in control of his forests and the wolf clans, and he was the one at the table who had fought both Inuyasha and Naraku and had survived unscathed.
"Ah, Lord Sesshomaru," a demon sighed, interrupting my thoughts. The square-looking demon took a deep gulp from his drink. "When will you have real blood-wine? It's not as if you don't have money enough for it."
Sesshomaru-sama didn't even bat an eye. I, however, stiffened. If the blood-wine they served didn't unsettle my stomach, then thinking about the blood-win which had existed in the time of Sesshomaru-sama's grandfather was absolutely horrid. Real blood-wine was traditionally made from human blood. Sesshomaru-sama had his staff make it out of the blood from animals.
"The humans in the land are under our protection," he said simply, leaning back slightly as a servant placed a plate of appetizers before him. "Perhaps in our grandfathers' time demons could kill humans whenever they wanted for whatever reason, but not now. The demon-slayers are being rebuilt, and our numbers are fewer than they were before that accursed Naraku began to target both demons and humans for his vile amusement. Nippon has changed; we are in a new era.
"We will not have my empire be destroyed when I have just finished rebuilding it because we are needlessly killing the people who tend to the farms, who tend to our animals and our houses. We can control our hunger. We are better than that. We are not human beings, who are subjects to the whims of their bodies. We are austere. We are in control. We have the ability to conform our body to our will. Treat the humans as you would a wild animal—though weak, they can be dangerous if provoked—and rule over them justly. In this way, we will remain in power until the human villages have crumbled."
He daintily took a bite of his appetizer before laying down his chopsticks and folding his graceful hands in his lap. "Speaking of power, it is time we start this month's parliament. What news have we to report?"
People glanced around at each other. No one seemed to want to start the discussion. I mentally sighed.
"I will start, Lord Sesshomaru."
Someone on the other side of the table coughed, trying to cover up the sounds of indignation. Of course the human was going first. I glanced across the table at him. Somehow, I was able to cover up the expressions of exasperation and anger I was feeling. This was not the first time someone had something to say about me speaking at the dinner table simply because of my heritage, rather than of my age or my sex.
"You had your chance to go first, Sir Tai. My Lord, Sir Mushashi, from whom you took this land, has apprehended the thief roaming the countryside last month. He has him under confinement and awaits orders as to where to send him. That is all. The humans were quiet, as they always are, my lord."
Sesshomaru-sama inclined his head, nodding. "Thank you, Lady Rin." As always, he said my voice with a kind of detachment which had first offended me. Now that I was older, I was used to it. "We will debate upon that subject at a latter time."
"Speaking of humans," said the gurgling voice of a water-demon, "I have news from the port. A ship came in. The humans have made some kind of compact with them. We have not yet revealed ourselves to these strange humans."
I felt a sudden chill go down my spine, but I knew not the cause.
"They seem to be travelers," he continued. "They look different. The color has been washed from them, Lord Sesshomaru. Their hair is yellow, some brown, and some black. Their eyes are the color of ocean, and of glass. Some eyes are even gray, my lord. They come wearing strange clothes, and bearing strange arms."
"Interesting. Yet travelers may they be, they are still trespassing on my land. Why have you not done anything yet, Lord Haku? You should have either frightened them away, or else invited them in."
"I know, my lord. I have my human ambassador caring for them currently, but it is hard to understand them," the dragon-demon reported, nodding his head. "I did send word to you to ask you what to do. Judging by your response, you did not get it yet. My lord, they are strange, queer men. Their weapons are oddly designed, and we know nothing about them. We are easily capable of taking a wound from a katana or a spear, but these are metal things, of which we know nothing. Until we know the full potential of these men, I thought it wise not to provoke them."
"We see. And these men, whence came them?"
"From land to the north-west called England, my lord. They call themselves Englishmen."
I thought I had heard that word before. I felt a vague sense of recognition at the way it was said… where I had it before?
"Whom do we have who is good with languages and teaching?" one demon asked another demon. "If they speak another language, we must learn it as quickly as possible, and vice versa. Many new possibilities are opening up: we could possibly trade with these people. If our enemies make an alliance with these people first, then the balance we have with them will be shifted into their favor. We…"
"Lord Sesshomaru?" I asked tentatively. I remembered where I had heard the word 'English' before. My voice sounded like a squeak in the room of booming voices. They heard it, and they fell silent; out of surprise, not out of respect. Every meeting I said the same thing: the humans were quiet, and then I too was silent for the rest of the meeting. There was rarely anything interesting to report. The demons didn't care if so-and-so had had a baby boy, or if so-and-so had gotten married. Just as they didn't care what happened in the life of a normal demon, so they didn't care what happened in the life of a normal human. All they cared about was the aristocracy.
"If they call themselves Englishmen," I began, feeling out of place and stupid. My face was as red as the collar on Seshsomaru-sama's kimono. "Well then, it is not inconceivable that they speak English, is it?"
"No, Lady Rin, it is not." Sesshomaru-sama's voice was like a growl. "What is your point?"
"Her point is," Kouga replied, his back straightening as he became the center of attention, "is that we already have someone who can speak their language. Kagome."
The table was suddenly silent at her name. Someone's chopsticks dropped on the ground. They all knew who she was, what she was. She was a brat of a human who had taken on Lord Sesshomaru years ago with nothing more than a bow and arrow. She was the human whose powers had helped to bring down Naraku. But what was most important was that she was the wife of Sesshomaru-sama's half brother. It made her family, and they secretly shuddered to think of Lord Sesshomaru being related to a human even in conjugal terms.
Kouga, Ayame and I, we knew that she came back now and then. We knew her husband and child sometimes came with her. We were the only ones who knew and who cared, and none of us had told Sesshomaru-sama, all for different reasons. Kouga and Ayame were friends with Kagome, and didn't want to see anyone be hurt. I also didn't want anyone to be hurt. We feared that if he found out Inuyasha still visited our lands and our time, then they would fight. Then, if Sesshomaru-sama won, Kagome and her family would be hurt. If Inuyasha won, then Sesshomaru-sama would be hurt. I didn't want to see anyone get hurt… or lose another arm.
Sesshomaru-sama's gold eyes narrowed at Kouga. Then his gaze flickered to me. Dealing with the humans was my responsibility. I should have known about this, and I obviously did. It had been my duty to say something to him about Kagome's presence, knowing he would be interested in it. That I hadn't reported it to him meant I was guilty of treason. I could die for trying to protect my friends. Sesshomaru-sama could draw his sword and behead me as I sat at the dinner table, and he would be quite well justified.
My eyes had been staring at my dinner plate. I felt his eyes on me, though, and I slowly looked up. I know I looked guilty. I didn't mean to show such emotion, but I was showing it. For a bare instant, Lord Sesshomaru's hard expression softened, and he looked proud that I was brave enough to face him, but then he just looked plain mad. Don't ask me a man who can be so stoic can have such different expressions in the blink of an eye. I'm just his vassal, and I have been since I was a little girl. I can read him the way any woman can read a man.
His gaze smoothly moved over Ayame to land on Kouga again. "I see," he said in the deep, sensual voice he used. It was dangerous, that voice. "And Inuyasha? What of him? Does he also return with his human bitch?"
"And his child," Kouga answered smugly, as if he liked pissing Sesshomaru-sama off. Ayame and I winced at the thought of what would happen if Sesshomaru-sama ever decided to take his anger out on Kouga.
"Inuyasha," he said dangerously, "has a child?"
"Yes, sir," Ayame gently replied. She laid a hand against her mate's arm, silencing him. "He has a daughter."
Our dinner was abruptly over when Sesshomaru-sama simply stood up and left.
-To be continued