Author's Note: It is done. Enjoy. I just want to say thank you all for reading this, and for all the reviews and comments.
"You wished to mate and marry Kagome, yet it was your hand that traveled through her body in a rage." Kiyomi's voice shook with tears. "Yours was the hand that killed the miko of the shikon no tama."
"How is this possible? The necklace – it should have kept this from happening." Kiyomi choked on her words and Sesshoumaru stared at his hand, the blood beginning to thicken on his hand.
"Some things even I cannot protect her from. This was something that had to happen, as much as I hate for her to have experienced this." A voice sounded and Kiyomi's head whipped around, trying to place the voice. "I do not like what the taiyoukai has done to my intended and I will fix it." The necklace around Kagome's neck, the gift from Sesshoumaru Darcy, began to glow.
"Who—" The taiyoukai growled, stepping into a combative stance as the necklace began to glow pink, a figure beginning to form. Kiyomi gaped on in shock. Was Darcy going to reveal himself? How was he even here? He was hundreds of years away.
"I am the youkai that she is in contract with. I am the one that you keep trying to tempt her from. And I am the one who will bring her back to life. She is mine, not yours, taiyoukai. And I will not let you take her from me."
The taiyoukai glared at the figure forming. He could tell that it was a youkai, long hair pulled back in a ponytail but he could not see whom the damnable youkai was that had stood between him and what he wanted.
"How do you think you can bring her back? You are not even man enough to show yourself to me."
"You will find out who I am in time, I promise." Darcy moved towards the taiyoukai, moving through the air with ease. His hand reached out towards Tensaiga and the youkai growled, slashing at the youkai apparition that moved towards him.
"That will not work, Taiyoukai." Darcy growled and lunged towards the taiyoukai. Kiyomi shrieked as Darcy moved though the taiyoukai, the tensaiga sliding out of the sheath at the taiyoukai's side. Darcy did not waste any time on moving back towards Kagome. He stood over her with tensaiga, poised the slash the sword over her body. He did not flinch as the taiyoukai lunged towards him; the claws that slashed through his body left no mark.
"What are you doing?"
"Restoring life to the miko of the shikon no tama." Darcy slashed the sword and did not stay to watch the life return to Kagome; instead he turned to face the taiyoukai, offering back the sword. "I also ensured that you would remain the ruler of this kingdom. That you will not be thrown from your kingdom in shame." Darcy glanced down at Kagome, how, with Kiyomi's help, unsteadily sat up. "But I know this. You will bear the mark of shame for this deep. Even now the powers within the miko swell, to finish healing her wounds and to leave the mark of her condemnation on you."
He could see Kagome's eyes widen in shock.
"I too will leave my mark of condemnation on you. You have broken the very tenants of youkai law that keep peace and order within our society. You killed a woman in a courting contract because she refused you. This mark will remain with you until the miko of the shikon no tama removes it.
Darcy turned his back on the taiyoukai, and the taiyoukai gasped as blood began to flow from his side.
"How did you—"
"Those wounds will scar. They will remain a visible imperfection on your body, mimicking the scars that you have left on Kagome. She can remove it if she chooses, but only if she chooses.
"Darcy…" Kagome's choked, her eyes wide. She had asked him about those marks, and the pink circle on his hip, and he had refused to answer. They were marks of shame for him, and he merely stated that in time she would discover on her own what they meant. She found her eyes drawn to Sesshoumaru, his arm coated in her blood and she shuddered.
"I am sorry that I could not save you from this love." His voice was soft and Kagome smiled shakily as he leaned in, placing a brief kiss on her lips. "I will be waiting for you when you return. I promise you that you no longer have anything to fear from him. All that which I worried about has come to pass." the glowing Darcy leaned forward to embrace the miko and the light faded, returning to the necklace that she wore around her neck.
"I think that we will head back to the village as soon as we get Kagome cleaned up." A new voice chimed from a short distance away and the taiyoukai whirled around, his eyes narrowing at Kagura.
"I do not feel that the miko should stay in your care any longer."
"I agree." Kiyomi spoke as she helped Kagome to her feet.
"It would please me if Rin could come with us. It will give you time to remain here and reflect on what has happened this day." Kagome slowly moved past the taiyoukai, leaning heavily on Kiyomi as she walked. "It would upset me to see you again before I leave, your palace, but Rin will need you near when I leave for the last time. We will send word."
"Who gave you permission to—" Sesshoumaru fell silent as Kagome's powers flared, slamming into his body.
"Now you bear the mark of shame from the miko of the shikon no tama. Any who see it will know what it is, and when they ask you why you bear it you will answer them in truth." Kagome glanced at him, her face blank. "I doubt that you will show anyone that mark, Taiyoukai Sesshoumaru, for who will you admit your shame to? The only one that you could have told will be the only one that you could not. Good day." She turned back, her steps towards the palace slow.
"Does Shippo yet know that I live?"
"He ran when Darcy grabbed the sword from that bastard." Kagura growled and Kagome laid a hand on her arm.
"It he could have prevented it he would have. But he could not. I did provoke him."
"But you did not deserve—"
"I have suffered no lasting harm. But we cannot let Rin know what he has done." Kagome looked to both Kagura and Kiyomi. "Promise me that you will not tell her what he has done this day. She adores him and I know that he will not harm her."
"We will not tell, but Shippo has already told Sesshoumaru that Rin will be staying with us. He wished to mate with you and killed you for refusing him, how will he act when Rin is a teenager. I feel that Shippo will tell her of this behavior, for she will one day ask why she no longer lives with Sesshoumaru."
"I don't think that he would—"
"Look at how he treats his own half brother. Until he learns to control his temper I do not think that she is safe. She is not old enough to rebel against him, but when she is of age, I fear for her."
Kagome nodded slowly. "I see your point, Kagura, though she has not indicated that he had done anything to her."
"Would she? I doubt yet that anything has occurred. She adores him, and hurries to carry out his every command. He would not even tell you what the marks of shame meant." Kiyomi dropped her voice so it would not carry to the taiyoukai. "I saw that surprise in your face when you realized what those marks know, and I felt the meaning of your parting words with the taiyoukai. Some things cannot be changed, and I think that in your present, in our future, that all would take care to make sure that what had to pass would pass."
"I had always wondered what had changed him so…" Kagome's voice trailed off, the rest of her thought heavy in the air. They all wondered if this was the beginning of the changes.
"When will you tell him that he is…?"
"I am not yet certain that I will. I think I need to, but…." Kagome shook her head, stiffening as she heard Rim's voice carrying towards them. Her eyes widened and Kagura smirked, wrapping an arm around the miko as she threw a feather to the ground. The pair hovered in the air, on a feather, as Rin ran around a corner, Shippo a moment behind. She skidded to a stop before Kiyomi, her eyes wide.
"Rin cannot find Kagome-nee-san."
"She is going to take a bath. We decided that we were going to leave the palace tonight, but you are more then welcome to travel with us. Would you like that?"
"I would love to. Is it ok with Sesshoumaru-sama?"
Kiyomi nodded. "He will come to the village when Kagome leaves. He has some business to take care of and wants you to have as much time with Kagome as possible."
"YAY!!!!" Rin twirled in place. "Rin will go pack!"
Rin grabbed Shippo by the arm and pulled him towards the palace. As he moved he glanced upwards, smiling wildly as he saw Kagome waving at him from the feather that she and Kagura occupied.
The remaining time that Kagome had in the feudal era passed quickly, and as the day of her departure approached she found it harder and harder to keep the sadness from her actions. She would miss them, even though she would be seeing them again soon. She would never see Shippo grow up, she would not see how courtship of Rin. She would not see Kouga's change of heart in his attitude towards Kagura and their courtship. She would miss the birth of their child. She would see Kikyo again in training, but she and Inuyasha would die of old age before she could see them again.
"Don't think about it." Sango sank down beside Kagome, her arms wrapping themselves around the body of her friend. "We have had so much time with you, and that time has been blessed. You were never meant to stay here." Sango's voice shook; tears threatening to spill down her face and Kagome found that tears also welled up in her eyes.
"I will miss you, Kagome. You are my sister, and I will never forget you and all that you have done for me." Sango could not stop the tears and Kagome found that her body began to tremble, sobs threatening to break forth.
"And I will never forget you. I –" Kagome found that she could not speak, the sobs welling up in her throat and the two women sobbed. This was their real goodbye, the parting by the well would not be as filled with emotion. Rin and Shippo were both threatening to break down, and all the adults had decided that they needed to be as strong as they could for the children.
Instead of extended goodbyes Kagome would present each of her dear friends with a gift, and as they opened them she intended to disappear down the well. She knew that the goodbye would be hard; she did not want to make it harder. Right now al they were waiting on was the arrival of Jaken and Sesshoumaru. Rin would need the support of her ward, though Kagome found that she was did not look forward to the arrival of the taiyoukai. She had decided to reveal to him that he was the one whom she was courting. She had not meant to, but as she looked at the present she had chosen for him, a copy of Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, she found that she could not help but leave him a note inside the front cover of the book, and in doing that she revealed to him the thing that she feared would break the taiyoukai. Something had changed the taiyoukai from the secure arrogant demon that he was so someone who feared rejection with all of his being. Kagome had finally realized what it was that kept Darcy so distant from her. He feared that she would reject him because he had killed her. She should have been able to recognize it, it was a fear that she had harbored with Inuyasha, but seeing that which you had disliked most in yourself in the one that you were beginning to love was a hard thing to do.
Kagome wiped the tears from her face as Kanna entered Sango and Miroku's home. She moved silently, giving the two women time to compose themselves.
"He is here. It is time." Kanna spoke and Kagome's head jerked up, her eyes wide. She could hear a touch of emotion in Kanna's voice. The Kanna that the young youkai would become had emotion in her voice, but the Kanna of the feudal era did not. It seemed her departure was to be the catalyst for far more than she had realized.
Kagome did not want to leave her friends, but she would be relived to be back in a time and a place where here every action would not influence years of history, and the lives of her friends thereafter. The weight of the responsibility was a burden that she did not wish to bare any longer. Kiyomi and Kagura, whom she spent most of her time with, could see the weariness that she felt, but neither would comment on it.
She appreciated heir concern, and their discretion. Commenting would just make things harder, and Kagome could tell that she was nearing her breaking point. "I will carry the bag for you. Join us when you can." Kanna moved softly through the hut, easily placing Kagome's yellow bag over her shoulder. She left the neatly wrapped presents in a corner of the hut. Those were Kagome's to carry and hers to give.
"We will be there in a moment." Sango heard her voice break, and Kagome's hands slipped around her once more, brining her close into a tight embrace.
"We will wait." Kanna slipped outside, the clothing swishing closed over the door, heavy in the silence.
"We should go—" Sango's voice wavered and Kagome shook her head. "In a moment."
Kagome slowly made her way towards the well, her arms full of gifts. Sango moved beside her. Kagome had refused to let Sango carry anything.
"Your condition is a delicate one, Sango. You need to take it easy. It will be better for you that way."
Sango blushed and looked away. "I am not helpless, Kagome."
"You never have been helpless. But you have more than just yourself to worry about. Too much strain on your body will mean strain on the baby. And I know that Miroku is ecstatic about the fact that you will finally bear him a child."
"He speaks of nothing else." Sango blushed. "If we have a daughter we will name her Kagome. He suggested that when I told him the news."
"I would be honored." Kagome smiled at Sango, bright and happy, to hide the tears that threatened to pour down her face. Did she really have to go down the well? Could she not stay here with her friends?
"You have Darcy to return to Kagome." Sango's voice was soft. "I want you to stay here, I cannot bear to see you leave, but you have never belonged here with us. You are too modern, you bring too many changes that may in the village are not ready for."
"I cannot be the kind of woman that living here would require. You are a demon exterminator and so you can defy the roles that women are supposed to hold."
"You are a miko, they expect tradition form you. That is something that you can never be."
"It is something that I do not wish to be."
"And that is why you cannot stay here."
"I know." They felt silent as they approached the well. Kagome could see Miroku standing near Inuyasha and Kikyo. Kouga stood a short distance off, his arms crossed over his chest, scowling. Rin and Shippo stood near Kiyomi, who conversed easily with Kagura and Kanna. Sesshoumaru and Jaken stood apart from the group and Kagome could sense that irritation that the taiyoukai exuded. He did not wish to be here, and Kagome could not blame him. Why would he choose to be around those who knew his sin?
"I—I don't have a lot to say. I have said all that I needed to you all before now." Kagome paused, taking in a deep breath. "I just wished to leave you all with one last thing. I have a gift for each of you, and I hope that when you use these gifts you will remember me." Kagome smiled.
She moved through the group, handing out their gifts, but she found that her focus was on the taiyoukai. She did not pause as she moved, not did her attention wander to see her friend's reactions. She could feel the weight of Kagura and Kiyomi's gazes as they watched her approach Jaken and Sesshoumaru, their gifts the final ones in their hands.
"Jaken, I appreciate all the help and guidance that you have provided for me." She handed him a gift and her gaze locked with Sesshoumaru's. "Taiyoukai Sesshoumaru, I hope that you will accept this gift from me."
"This Sesshoumaru is honored that you would deem him worthy to receive a gift." His voice was low and she inclined her head as she handed him the gift. She could hear him open the gift as she turned away from him, moving towards Kanna to retrieve her pack before moving to the well. She paused there, noting the way that her friends were absorbed in their gifts and her smile wavered, tears welling in her eyes. As she moved to climb into the well she glanced back once towards Sesshoumaru, and she noted how pale he was, her gift to him open in his hands.
He looked to her and she smiled, nodding slowly and the unanswered questions in his gaze.
"Kagome—" His voice was a whisper and he moved towards the well as she disappeared into it, the blue magic flaring for one last time before, slowing fading. He could hear the cries of her friends as they noticed her disappearance, but it was the book in his hands that drew his attention.
I find it hard to write all that is in my heart in this book. I cannot say that our relationship has not been fraught with difficulties, and I must say that I have not always loved you. I cannot love the taiyoukai that you are, for you have hurt me far too much, but I do love the youkai that you are. This book could be our story, Darcy love, but it is not. Take care of yourself, Sesshoumaru, and I look forward to the day that I see you again. You are no longer the taiyoukai Sesshoumaru to me, but only my Sesshoumaru Darcy.
"So you finally realized who it is that she is courting." Jaken's voice was soft.
"I did, Kagura, Shippo, Kanna and Kiyomi."
"Why did no one tell me?"
"She told you often enough, you just were never wiling to listen. She said that she would never mate with the taiyoukai, she never said that she would not marry you."
"But this Sesshoumaru—" He could not help but glance at his hand and Jaken nodded.
"I am sure that she will forgive you, She truly loves Darcy. Look how hard she fought to maintain his reputation and the integrity of their courtship."
"How can she even begin to—"
"I don't know, but that is what makes Kagome Kagome." Kagura walked over to the taiyoukai. "I am not forgiving as Kagome. You do not deserve my forgiveness. You will have to prove to me, Kanna and Kiyomi that you deserve her before we will let you anywhere near her."
"HE is the one she is courting?" Kouga's voice rang out through the clearing and Inuyasha's shout of surprise echoed through the forest, the birds flying from their perches. Neither Kouga nor Inuyasha were fine with this fact, but it turned their attention from the immediate sadness of her departure.
Kagome however had no such distraction. She sank down in the well, tears streaming down her face, and no one was there to quell her sobs. She could tell that there were people outside of the well house, she could hear the whispers, but for the moment she was given her space, to recover and compose herself. She appreciated having a moment to herself but she could also feel the tension building within her. She was nervous to step outside of the well house and see him.
Slowly the sobs subsided and Kagome wiped the tears from her face. She left her bag in the bottom of the well, she would retrieve it later. Seeing it now was only a reminder of the friends that she had just left behind, and for the moment she only wished to look forward to the life that she had here. It would take time to be able to look back on her time in the feudal area and not feel the aching in her heart. Time heals all wounds, and ignoring the pain would not make it better, but she had something more immediate to focus on. She needed to talk with her Sesshoumaru, Sesshoumaru Darcy. Kagome was climbing the ladder and out of the well before she knew that she was moving. Her hand hovered over the doorknob to the well house and she was startled to feel the door moving under her hand. Her eyes, which had been focused on her hand, flew upward and they widened as she saw Rin, her stomach swollen with child, standing before her.
"Welcome home, Kagome." Rin opened her arms and Kagome flew into them, her hold around the young woman gentle.
"He is very worried about seeing you." Rin's voice was soft in Kagome's ear.
"Why would he—" Kagome's words fell silent. She knew why, and Kagome's arms tightened around her.
"He killed you Kagome. He bears the mark of shame that he placed on himself and that you placed on him. You have every right to refuse him at this point."
"He killed me. I still cannot believe that. I understand now so many more things. He killed me."
"I did not speak to him for years after I found out. Shippo waited until I was an adult, and no longer under his care. He suffered much, for his actions, from me, his own guilt, Kagura and Kiyomi. I think for the past five hundred years he has been waiting for this moment. He feels that this could be the end, or this could be the beginning."
"No, the beginning was the day that he gave me this necklace. The end, I cannot day when there will be an end, but it will not be today."
"I am relived to hear that. He loves you. With all that he is. He loves you as he could never love me."
Kagome pulled back from Rin and saw tears in her eyes.
"He was honorable with me, he never treated me wrong, and he made sure that I had all that I needed, but he did not know how to love until you shook the foundations of his world. I was lucky to have you, Kagura, Kiyomi, Sango and all the others in my life to show me what it was to love. Shippo was always there for me, even when I did not realize what I needed."
"Just as you all are here for me now. Sesshoumaru had been here for me, during the training and all my time home, when I had suffered at his hand."
"He will be here for you all his days should you let him. I hope that you find with him what we have all found with our mates."
"I know that I will, but it seems that I need to inform him of that as well." Kagome's eyes focused on Sesshoumaru as he climbed the stairs to enter the shrine. He moved with hesitation, but it took knowing him well to see the unease in his steps.
"He will wish to speak with you, and Shippo gets nervous when I stay out too long. The baby will come any day now, and he wished to make sure that I am well cared for during the childbirth."
Kagome nodded. She noticed that Shippo walked beside Sesshoumaru. "Your husband is here as well. I will talk with you soon." Kagome stepped towards Sesshoumaru, meeting him in the center of the courtyard. She knew that Shippo and Rin left after saying hello to her mother, but she and Sesshoumaru stood on the center of the courtyard. She tired to read his gaze but she could not, he was guarding himself from her.
"I do not like it when you hide from me, Sesshoumaru." Her voice was soft and his eyes widened.
"I have a feeling that this conversation is not one that you wish to have in public. Shall we move somewhere else, your home perhaps."
"You would trust me?"
"Do not be a fool, Sesshoumaru. I still weak the necklace of our courtship." Kagome could hear the irritation in her voice and she cringed. She turned on her heel and moved into the trees. She could hear his steps following her, and when they entered the trees he picked her up, disappearing in a flash of youkai speed. They did not speak as Sesshoumaru raced to his house, and he placed her down only when they arrived in the garden.
Kagome was surprised when he moved away from her, stepping back a distance.
"You killed me, Sesshoumaru." Her words were choked. "Every time that you look at me all you will see is this scar."
"Every time I look at myself all I see is the look on your face as my hand—I dream each night of your death, and I hate myself more and more each day for it. What I have done is unforgivable. I would not—"
"I forgave you, Sesshoumaru. I forgive you." Kagome moved towards the youkai, who froze. She pulled his forehead down to meet her lips, and her words were a whisper against his skin. "You no longer bear the mark of the shikon no tama. You have suffered long enough. Forgive yourself. You made a mistake, but it is also a mistake that you fixed."
She stepped back.
Sesshoumaru would not look at her as he spoke, his eyes fixed on his hand. "How can I ever forgive myself for killing you. I was an idiot. How could you even consider binding yourself so me? You have every right to choose to end this contract. No one would blame you. I have committed unspeakable atrocities in the way that I have treated you, and it would be enough to annul this contract."
Kagome paled as he spoke, her hands flying to her mouth. She could feel tears welling.
After all that had happened he did not wish to stay in the contract? Was seeing her that much of a reminder of his guilt? Was it too much for her to know his sin?
"I knew it…" Her voice was soft, quavering.
His head shot up. "Knew?"
"I knew that this had been too good to be true. How could you possibly truly love me? All I am is a reminder of your weaknesses, your sins." Kagome's hands moved to the necklace that she wore, the necklace that he had clung to during her convalescence in the feudal era. "I will release you from this contract, but only if that is your desire." Kagome did not bother to stop the tears that fell from her eyes.
"I had hoped to come back and let you know that I loved you, and that I was willing to move forward with the contract, but it seems that you were not a serious as you had—"
"NO!" His voice was a firm cry and he stepped towards Kagome, falling to his knees before her. His hands snaked around her body and he pulled her towards him, burying his face against her stomach, resting against the scar that his fist had created.
"I did not always love you, but I love you with every fiber of my being now. I do not deserve you. I never have, and I especially do not now." His voice was muffled, but Kagome could clearly hear every word that he spoke. "I do not wish to let you go, but how can you possibly love me after all of this? I mauled you, I scarred you, I mistreated you, and I killed you. I have done nothing to make myself worthy of your love."
"You have supported me, you have cared for me, and you have been everything that I have needed and more than I could possibly imagine. Sesshoumaru Darcy is not the Taiyoukai Sesshoumaru. You know that as well as I did. I am in a relationship with you now, the contract is now. The events of the past, they should remain there, in the past, where they belong."
"I was a broken miko who ran away from the pain of knowing that I loved Inuyasha and that he preferred Kikyo. I am not a fit mate for the ruler of the western lands. I am the miko of the shikon no tama, I have blood on my hands just as you do, but mine is youkai blood, the blood of your species. How am I anywhere near good enough for you?" Kagome buried her hands in his hair, pulling him close.
"This is not about who deserves who, or what we have done. All that matters is that I love you, and you love me. All the things in the past, they should not matter. All we need is now, it is all that we have."
"Do you wish for me to release you from the contract, Sesshoumaru?" Kagome sank down in front of him, peering into his eyes, judging his reaction.
"Do you love me?"
"I do, and I always will."
"Then show me. Stop trying to run away from me, from this. I love you." Kagome slowly leaned towards Sesshoumaru, her lips gentle against his own. Her hands traveled to his shirtfront and she pulled him towards her.
"I do not wish to wait, Sesshoumaru. The ceremonies can come later, tonight I wish to become your mate." She whispered against his lips and his arms tightened around her.
"There is no undoing this, Kagome."
"I know." Kagome smiled against his lips, their gazes locked. "I am yours, Sesshoumaru Darcy. My heart, my body, they belong to you, now and always. I trust that you will guard them well."
"You are my heart, and you have been for longer than I have realized. I, Sesshoumaru Darcy, belong to you now, and forever." He captured her lips in a fierce kiss, and the couple allowed their passions to rule them. The announcement that Sesshoumaru Darcy was mated, at long last, to the miko of the shikon no tama could wait, for now Sesshoumaru and Kagome cared only for themselves, and the feelings that flowed between them.