Disclaimer: I do not own Inuyasha or any other characters here-in except for Sturaki (I'm a native English speaker, so sorry if that name actually means something, I just liked the way it looked)
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Chapter 1: Seeing the Witch
Sesshoumaru stood on the side of the cliff, looking down at the waterfall contemplatively. He had left Rin and Jaken back at the palace a few days earlier with strict instructions not to leave the grounds. It would not be safe for his young charge to be out during this time of the year.
Sesshoumaru sighed. He hated this time of the year: mating season. It would begin in a few days and last for a moon cycle. He just wished it were over with already. He had no hope left about ever finding his mate. 'That old hag lied,' he thought to himself bitterly.
He remembered that day like it was yesterday. He had been merely four hundred and fifty years old at the time. His father and mother had been attempting to find him a suitable mate for the last fifty years. They had brought forth everyone they thought might be suitable some of whom seemed to be rather questionable in taste. However, despite their efforts, none of the potential mates made even the slightest impression on Sesshoumaru.
As a last resort, his parents had brought him before an old witch. They had desired to know what the problem with their son was. His parents had begun to fear that he would never take a mate and would not be able to produce an heir because of it. Sesshoumaru had been reluctant to see this witch, but he did not want to appear disrespectful and so went along with his parents' decision without complaint.
As they entered the room, Sesshoumaru took note of how the place was filled with an almost overwhelming number of smells. He silently wondered how his mother and father were able to stand it, yet remained impassive himself. The floors were covered with jars and there was a short table with a shallow bowl in the center of it in the middle of the room. The witch was not in the room at present, but he could hear her behind the mat that covered the doorway which obviously led to a sleeping chamber.
Sesshoumaru watched his mother and father exchange a look before his father cleared his throat. "Ahem. Lady Sturaki? We have come to seek your wisdom."
There was another sound of movement in the back room, this time closer to the mat. A moment later, the mat was pushed to the side and a very short woman came out. She came to no higher than Sesshoumaru's waist and had a head of black hair that was pulled back in a bun. She had a very lithe figure and her eyes appeared to be almost pools of liquid silver.
Sturaki looked them each over from where she stood before she opened her mouth to speak. "Ah yes, the Lord and Lady of the West and their son. Why is it you have traveled so far to see this witch?" she asked, with an indication that they should sit down around the table, which they did.
Again, his father spoke, "We have come to ask a question of you."
"A question? What sort of question?"
This time his mother spoke, "We are concerned for our son, Lady Sturaki."
"And what need have you to be concerned for your son, Lady of the West?"
"Our son has seen four hundred and fifty summers, yet he is still without a mate."
"Have you not asked among the available demonesses? Surely they would be of greater assistance to you than this old witch."
His father grew impatient. "If it were that simple, we would have already done it! We have already introduced him to every available demoness in the land. We have been trying to find his mate for the last 50 years! Do you think we are so simple minded as to not have considered that option first!"
Sesshoumaru watched silently as his mother put out an arm to his father. He visibly calmed from his rant and she began to speak again. "As my mate was attempting to explain, we have already searched high and low for our son's mate. We are here to ask you if he even has a mate. And, if he does, how can we find her? We are greatly concerned by the lack of an heir."
Sturaki remained silent for a moment, watching his parents carefully before turning to him. "And what says you, child? Why have you not found a mate out of all the demonesses that have been brought before you?"
Sesshoumaru looked at her a moment, contemplating what possible angle she might have. He had just not been interested in any of the demonesses. If he was only to have one mate for the rest of his life, he wanted it to be someone he was at least remotely interested in. The demonesses who had been brought before him were either simpering fools or only interested in the wealth and power that would come from being mate to the next lord of the west. He had no time for such idiocy or attachments.
However, the truth was not always the best way to answer a question, especially with his parents sitting right there. So, he opted for a half-truth instead. "I have not found a suitable demoness as of yet."
The witch raised a brow. "Is that so?" she asked with an amused tone to her voice. "Well then, perhaps I shall be able to help you in finding one." With that, she stood and began to gather various jars from around the room, placing them on the table as she did so.
When she had collected a dozen jars, she returned to her seat on the floor. As Sesshoumaru watched in concealed fascination, she began to pull items out of the collected jars and place them in the bowl that was in the center of the table.
With all her 'ingredients' in place, she took one finger and swirled it through the mass that was now in the bowl. A cloud of gray-bluish smoke rose from the bowl as she did so. With a look of utmost concentration, Sturaki stared into the smoke.
After a time, they heard her mumble, "Ah, yes, of course."
Unable to remain silent any longer, Sesshoumaru's mother spoke up. "What is it? What do you see?"
Sturaki looked to his mother with a small smile. "Worry not, Lady of the West, your son does indeed have a mate."
With a great sigh of relief, his father asked, "Where then might we find this demoness? Where have we not yet searched?"
"The future," she responded, now looking directly at Sesshoumaru. "Your mate has not yet been born, child."
If anything, his parents became even more worried. "How far into the future do you mean?" his mother asked warily.
Turning her gaze to his mother, Sturaki replied, "Your son's mate will be born in over 100 years from now."
As Sesshoumaru tried to process this information, he heard his father exclaim, "Over a 100 years! How are we supposed to wait that long for an heir?"
"You must wait and you will, Lord of the West. Your son and his mate are very important to the future of this world and the fates cannot be rushed. If he does not find his correct mate, I fear for us all."
At this, Seshoumaru broke his silence. "How will I know that it is my correct mate?"
Sturaki gave him a sweet smile. "You will know, child. Your senses will be overwhelmed, your heart will race and you will feel the inexorable pull on your very soul to be with your mate. All you need do is be open to it."
With these words, Sturaki stood and began to put her jars away, effectively dismissing them. As his parents thanked her for her time, Sesshoumaru headed to the door. So, he had a mate, she just hadn't been born yet. With a start, he realized this meant he did not even have to consider finding his mate for at least another 100 years. He almost grinned.
With a growl, Sesshoumaru pulled himself back to the present. He had been so pleased at the idea of his parents ceasing the parade of demonesses before him at the time. He had had no idea then that later on he would find himself completely incapable of finding his mate, even after over 300 years had passed. He wondered if it was possible that his mate was still yet to be born.
Over the past 250 years, Sesshoumaru had taken it upon himself to meet every new female demoness that was born, always wondering if this demoness was the one who would one day be his mate. He had yet to feel even remotely attracted to any of them and, as the years went by, he had begun to convince himself that there most likely was no mate for him and that old hag had been lying after all.
As he was contemplating yet another mating season spent alone, it never occurred to Sesshoumaru that he might have been wrong or that he and his parents might have completely misinterpreted the witch's words.