Disclaimer: Me? Own Inu-Yasha? You're funny. XD

Author's Note: I actually came up with this idea about 3 years ago; originally it was supposed to be a chapter fic. ((And originally, the idea was inspired both by a unit in social studies class, and a book on witches I saw in the library, once, when I was seven. I was flipping through it because I was bored, and I saw a picture of a naked woman dancing with a guy with an animal head. And the caption talked about how women would. . . ahem. . . with the devil to become witches and. . . stuff. . . yeah. . . )) However, as I have a) no time and b) no real, solid plot line, this is just going to be a one-shot for now—as I NEED TO GET THIS OUT OF MY HEAD. x.X

I love evil guys who use so many pet names for their ladies. . . XD

;) That said, please enjoy!

Warning: Dark, witchcraft, character death, devil worship, implied sexual relations. NOT MEANT TO OFFEND ANY WICCAN READERS.

X

X

X

The town rejoiced the dawn she was to burn, gathering from miles around to watch her slow death. Parties were planned, celebrations were scheduled; one or two farmers even began dancing in the street. The end of our suffering is near!, elders exclaimed, beaming widely at the awe-struck children. For never, ever in their young lives had they seen so much unbridled joy. We've found the witch; we've found her! And, though the toddlers understood none of this, their older counterparts smiled for the first time in years.

At last. . . Salem would be free. Free from the curses, jinxes, droughts, illnesses—all of the horrors that had plagued their beautiful city for the past three years. Free from the dark shadow the trees had been casting. . . of the haunting full moon. . . Free of the witch.

People cheered as she was dragged into the street; fruits and stones thrown at her in disgust. Her executioners yanked her long, thick hair; women spat at her pale feet; men stained her beautiful face with mud.

She glared daggers.

But that was all.

And though they were at first pleased by her general cooperation, panic soon began to grow in their constricting chests. Horror, dread; was she planning something? Was this a trap? They watched her fearfully as she continued down the road, scalp and body bleeding from their rough ministrations.

She said nothing; did nothing. There were no struggles, nor pleading, nor insisting of fraud or blame. Instead, the young woman simply took in her surroundings—memorizing each person's face as the mayor tied her to the stake; tightening the ropes around her white-clad body.

A priest stepped foreword; she hissed.

Then there was silence. A long silence; a heavy silence. It stretched from one end of the town to the next, swallowing every citizen like a monster. No one seemed quite sure of what to do; normally the victim would be begging for mercy by now.

But the witch did not even open her red-lipped mouth.

An executioner cleared his throat, summoning his torch. It was promptly brought to him, already brightly blazing. The crackle of the flames filled the mid-morning sky. All stared at it—even the woman.

Another long moment passed, then the man stepped foreword—dipping down so that the fires teasingly licked the prepared fodder.

"Do you have anything you'd like to say, Kikyo?" he asked softly, almost gently; the light flickering in his eyes.

Kikyo smiled—widely, madly; her teeth gleaming dangerously in the sun. "I'll be back."

An inferno burst to life; her delighted screams filled the sky.

And from a shadowed corner, a smirking figure watched— leaning casually against the wall, golden eyes alive in the darkness.

"Yes, love. . . you will.

You will."

X

XXX

Joined by Shadows

XXX

X

She didn't understand their hatred; couldn't comprehend. Wincing as another door was slammed shut in her face, the small girl sighed, dropping sadly to the curb as she wiped the spittle and tears from her cheeks.

Why did they despise her so? She had never done anything to them. . . only asked for chores; odd jobs for money with which to buy food. That was all. She'd never stolen or lied or cheated—she worked hard; and when she wasn't working hard, she left them alone.

So why did they detest her? Why did they whisper behind her back? Why did they scorn her hair, her eyes? Why did they curse her life? Why did they want her dead?

What threat could she pose; friend, family, and job-less?

There was nothing she could do to them, even if she wanted to.

Sighing, the six-year-old decided to make her way back home. Perhaps she could find a few crumbs of bread concealed in the corners— and there was always the possibility that she had left some potatoes hiding in the garden. If not. . . well, a few days of hunger had never killed anyone, right?

Right. . . ?

She fiddled nervously with her tattered blue dress, tugging at the stained white apron as she walked slowly away—watching the happy kids of the town laugh and play games in the street, their parents kindly offering refreshments and beverages when they grew weary. It was hard to believe that those gentle-looking adults had been the ones who. . .

No, I don't want to think about it.

Stepping a little faster down the cobbled walkway, she quickly found the dusty side road, following the tree-lined path towards her tiny house on the edge of town. It only took 15 minutes to reach if you knew where to search—veiled by vines and honeysuckle and weeds, so rundown it looked like part of the woods surrounding it. But it was nice just the same, with large patches of empty field where she tried to grow some simple crops.

The child smiled slightly, breathing in the musty scent of molding wood and forest. A blue bird sang from a nearby pine; aspens waved cheerfully near a small brook of crystalline water. "I'm home," she murmured as she opened the creaking door. "Buyo, are you here?"

. . . ? She blinked in surprise to find that no, he wasn't. What? But that couldn't be true—that stray cat was too large to do anything, much less slip out the small cracks in the door. "Buyo. . . ?" she called, a bit louder this time; glancing around the decaying one-roomed hut. He wasn't on the hay mattress, nor near the cupboard, nor underneath the tilted table. . . he hadn't even gotten into her small chest of treasures. But then. . . ?

Little love. . .

The child froze; stomach clenching as her blood ran cold. That voice. . . Not again; not again! "Buyo. . . !" she whimpered, scuttling around in a desperate attempt to find her only companion. Cats were supposed to be sensitive to the supernatural, after all. If Buyo was fine, then that meant she was only imagining things. . . Unable to muffle a sharp cry of horror, she raced out the door once more— sprinting through the woods, calling for her cat.

My treasure, my dear, my little love, why do you run in fear from me?

"Because you're not real!" she screeched, covering her ears. Why must she hear him? The owner of this seductive voice? He was the real reason behind all of this—why she was alone—! "I do not hear voices; I'm a naughty girl! I was lying!"

You are not lying to anyone but yourself, my precious darling. You can hear me perfectly well.

"No! NO! Mama said. . . mama said. . ." she huffed, choking on tears and snot as she pushed on, tearing at the dark brushwood that tried— quite literally— to hold her back. "And the townspeople! They hate me. . . they say I'm bad!"

Why do you mourn your good fortune? There are men and woman all around the world who would KILL for a chance to speak with me. Heh. . . In fact, many of them have.

"Stop it!" the youngster shrieked, falling to her knees; clutching her throbbing head. He was laughing; the voice refused to fade away. Why wouldn't it go away—? "JUST SHUT UP!"

A forceful wind blast through the forest, ripping away at the trees and brush. Boulders trembled in the ground; streams lapped fiercely at the banks. And through the bending branches a figure stepped forward, watching the trembling child scream with a curling smile. His ears twitched appreciatively, unfazed by the tornado that seemed to be swirling around him.

In his arms he held a fat, purring cat.

"You cannot escape me, my little love," he said softly, his voice like a silky spell. Crouching down, he held out the feline, grinning widely as the small girl glanced up; eyes a dull, soulless blue— full of water. Buyo meowed happily, rubbing against the child's chin as he was accepted. "I have been with you all along; I have always been a part of you."

She quivered horribly, skin pale and clammy. She knew those great, golden eyes. . . had felt them watching her for years; seen his shadow in the night; the figure that haunted all of her dreams. . . "You. . ." the girl choked, looking almost like a skeleton in the dimming daylight, ". . . you are the reason. . . won't go. . . my family—. . . mama. . ." Her vision was fading. "You. . . must be death. . ."

He chuckled, scooping her up as she fainted. The whirlwind vanished as her consciousness fled. "No," he murmured wickedly, teeth glistening like jewels. "No, I am destiny, Kagome."

And they were gone.

X

"!" Kagome awoke with a start, bolting upright so swiftly that she nearly collided with the caving ceiling. I'm going to—!

To—. . . ! She looked around; the sun poured through the empty window panes, casting shadows off of the crumbling walls. Oh. . . it was just the dream again.

". . ." The adrenaline rush quickly faded, becoming the faint buzz that the young woman was accustomed to. Throwing back her frayed blanket, Kagome rolled out a bed, stretched, and bent down to pick up a meowing Buyo. I've been having that dream a lot, lately, she thought to herself as she crossed the room, heading towards the cupboard. I wonder why.

Retrieving a rather old looking potato from the dark depths of the crooked cabinet, the teenager set her cat down and began to prepare her breakf—

"Good morning, little love."

Having long since grown used to his sudden appearances, the young woman didn't bother to react—simply grunted as he materialized from the shadows, stepping out of the corner with a slight tilt of his dark scarlet hat; well-manicured nails smoothing down his suit of velvet and matching silk ascot.

"Don't call me that," she demanded—with a less vehemence than she would have liked—her cheeks pink. "I am not a child anymore."

He grinned, revealing a set of teeth as bright and sharp as shined swords; golden eyes glittering like twin suns through the gloom. "You will forever be my junior, dear heart," he quipped with a smug sneer, watching her movements like a hawk. "Even if I were to disappear tomorrow and you live on 'til forever—I would always be older."

A snort. "That's impossible," Kagome scoffed, setting the vegetable aside and turning to face the other, wiping her fingers off on her apron. "If I were to live forever and you were to die, then eventually I'd have to grow older than you."

"I never said I'd die, though," he pointed out, waving a reproving finger. The skin momentarily caught the daylight; its color seemed to swim in the glow—like swirls of milk perpetually mixing with ivory and marble. It was hastily pulled back. "For I am eternal, precious. As old as Time itself."

He leaned against his decorative cane and smirked at her; she did not respond. For really, she had always known this, and only brought up the argument for sake of talking to him. After all, she liked to mull with him over pointless things; little things; passing things. Of the sunset and the trees and the flowers which spoke so readily to her.

But she did not like to discuss what followed the pleasantries.

"So, my little love," he began again, a leering face in the dim shade, "what do you desire today?"

Kagome sighed; "I wish you wouldn't ask such things."

He tut-tutted. "Nonsense!" Giving a disdainful sniff, the man carefully seated himself upon the broken stool. "Anything for you, pet. All you have to do is ask."

She stubbornly shook her head, turning away once more. "I won't give in to you, no matter what you try. I will not make a Deal."

A lazily chuckle met her ears; he watched her bustle with a keen eye. "You will eventually. You cannot deny me forever."

"Yes, I can. And I will," the teen insisted, a hint of annoyance creeping into her tone. "I won't make a Deal!"

The other dismissed this declaration, however; unfazed. Instead, he whispered: "The villagers are getting scared."

Kagome stiffened slightly—but brushed it off mere seconds later. "It does not matter!"

"Oh, but it does," the man purred, gaze narrowing. "Now, call off this foolishness, my dear. I grow weary of your impudence, and I dislike punishing you."

She silenced herself. . . but her face showed that she was not happy doing it. Instead, she started to toy with some dried herbs hanging near the door, blatantly ignoring the one behind her. The other cocked an eyebrow, momentarily irked at her behavior.

"Look at me, darling. We are still talking, you and I."

Nothing.

His mouth turned down. "Precious, I need for you to respond to me. What would you like? I can bring you a feast large enough for a king's grand army. Or clothing? The wealthiest Persian prince would weep with jealousy. Money? Mountains of gold, rivers of silver. All you need to do is ask."

Silence.

The other snarled in the back of his throat, teeth and claws bared in frustration. "You cannot resist me forever, Kagome," he hissed, the entire room growing colder. "Whatever power you've managed to secure from your incarnate can be taken away post-haste!"

BANG! The chipped pot the girl had lifted from a wall hook slammed against the table with a loud, hallow noise. Her eyes crackled, her hair fluttered, even the dust on the ground began to jump in her fury. "I AM NOT KIKYO," she snarled, cheeks flaming with rage. "I am me! I do not want this! I WANT TO BE NORMAL! Normal—!"

Kagome choked, the room settling as her anger faded into sadness. The dark figure clicked his tongue sympathetically; she could feel icy shadows twisting around her legs, up her torso, encasing her shoulders and head.

She was in his embrace, crying into his richly decorated chest.

"Hush, little love," the man soothed, voice as sweet and warm as hot chocolate; the gentle words easily slid down her throat, ensnaring her senses. Long, cool fingers played through her ebony locks, brushing her pale flesh, clearing the wetness from her navy eyes. "Please, calm down. Please, calm down and think of what you are saying. You are blessed, my sweetheart; blessed to be chosen like this. All 'normal' people desire what you have."

"And what do I have. . . ?" she asked softly, nuzzling her cheek in his hand. He was so soft. . . his skin so horribly, wonderfully warm. . .

He smiled again; her knees went weak—she trembled.

"Me."

The teen felt her breasts heave, ripping away from him. "But I do not want you. . . not like this. . ."

Not like this? The other arched an eyebrow, slightly amused. "And how would you prefer me? I am what I am, little love. I always have been, and I always will be."

"No. . . There is good in everything," she whispered, hugging herself tightly. Moments later, a pair of strong arms snaked around her middle, working up to her chest and neck. She gasped, allowing him to kiss the hallow of her throat. "There is good even in you, though you refuse to see it."

"Rubbish." His words tickled her ear, a disgusted note in them. "Hogwash and poppycock. You seem to be losing your mind faster than I would have hoped, dear heart."

"I have not lost it yet." Her petite hands darted up to stroke one dog-like ear.

"Nor have you lost your strong will." Muffling a groan, the man nipped at her jugular with a teasing ferocity.

"You would have it no other way."

He chuckled lustily, tongue lashing her lobe. "True. The more you struggle, the sweeter my victory will be, little love."

The shadows retreated; he was suddenly standing in the corner again. Kagome watched him intently, but he only smirked and dusted down his outfit.

"I will return tomorrow."

"My answer will not change," she replied quietly.

"I am not worried," he nonchalantly shrugged, backing into the darkness until only his eyes remained—glowing and glittering and piercing her like knives. "You will come to me eventually.

You cannot deny the Devil."

X

But that did not mean she couldn't try. And try she did—Kagome had spent the past ten years trying. She would not give in easily; she didn't want to cave. However, things were not getting easier with time. Quite the opposite, in fact. The Devil was becoming more persistent, more demanding.

Why did he want her so? Kagome wasn't sure. She'd grown up being told she was the Devil's child, but that was untrue— no, he wanted her to be his lover.

Only because of Kikyo, though.

The girl frowned slightly as she walked, pulling her cloak more tightly around her bare body as she stared up at the full moon. It was beautiful tonight—as large and round as a ball, the color of sea foam. It cast everything beneath it shades of pale indigo and silvery blue; vines of honeysuckle and aspen branches reached for the moonlight from the corners of the clearing, straining to touch the heavens.

Kikyo. . . Her incarnation, her former self. A young woman who'd made a pact with the Devil and in the process gained satanic spiritual powers.

She had been burnt at the stake for witchcraft more than fifty years ago. . . but she had sworn revenge.

I am her revenge.

That, so much, the Devil had told her—when he used to read her bedtime stories as a girl. "You are my beloved Kikyo, little love," he would whisper, covering her face with butterfly kisses. "And one day, when you are grown, I will help both of you extract your revenge upon those nasty villagers who shunned and betrayed you. The ones who never understood."

Kagome shivered, clutching her basket more tightly. They hate me because I am her, she had realized. Because they fear I have her power and vehemence. And to some extent they were right—she had been born with extraordinary powers, powers that had alerted the townsfolk to her family and had driven them to stone her mother, brother, and father to death.

She had somehow survived.

Yet, at the same time, she was not Kikyo. She had no desire for revenge; she had no wish to hate. All she wanted was a peaceful life— a friend, a family, a future.

She had told him that.

And he was furious.

"I am all of those things! I am your everything!" he had shouted, nails raking across her cheek with a stinging slap. She screamed, cowering in fright and pain. And though he softened at her fear, he did not lose any of his intensity as he lifted her into his arms, cuddling her like a doll. "And though you may try to fight me, my precious treasure, you will fall. Just like Kikyo, and those before her. You will surrender to me; you will be mine."

The words still rang through her mind, echoing forever through her memory.

You will be mine. . .

"But I am already yours," she breathed to the winds, taking in the sweet spring air. "You are all I've ever known, all I've ever had. Whether I like it or not. . ." She could not escape him.

He was everywhere—always watching, always plotting, always laughing. Evil loomed over her, her house, her city. Salem suffered. She watched.

But she would not give in to him. She would not sell her soul. She would not surrender to unholy desires, no matter how badly she longed to; how much she wanted him.

I blame you, Kikyo, for it is your fault that I love him.

And it was.

. . . Or so she chose to tell herself.

X

"I have never understood the pleasure you find in this."

Kagome smiled serenely, crossing her feet beside her legs as the warm sun bathed her face. Linking chains of dandelions to one another, she cast him a happy grin—giggling as he sulked beneath a shaded tree. He did not like light very much . . . unless it came from a fire. "How can you not? The beauty of the world, the peace of the forest. . . though I'd assume you like doom and destruction better?"

"You'd assume correctly," he muttered, scowling at a butterfly and sneezing when a flowered crown fell atop his head. He cast the decoration a flat glare. ". . . what would the churches say if they saw me like this?"

"I think they'd giggle at how cute you are," the teen chirped, moving to sit beside him. The pine branches swayed in a breeze. "But why should it matter? Afraid I shall ruin your frightening image?"

"I believe you already have," he smirked dryly, toying with the petals of a daisy. Plucking the bud from its stem, he cackled; smirk widening as the flower blazed in his palm, becoming ash.

He yelped when Kagome decked him.

"I should damn you," he snarled, clutching his wounded skull and spitting madly. She rolled her eyes and continued weaving the dandelions together.

"Hush your mouth and enjoy the day," the girl demanded, whistling to a chickadee. It sang sweetly back, fluttering closer. "Relax, have fun! Celebrate in the beauty of the Earth! Life will not end if you smile kindly and mean it, you know."

"Do not be so sure, I think it may be a sign of the apocalypse."

She shook her head, but grinned lightly all the same.

A soft silence fell.

". . . the city of Salem is panicking again."

". . ." Kagome did not look his way, choosing instead to keep her eyes firmly planted upon her chain.

"Plague. Sickness. Hunger. Thirst. It's been getting worse. . . they're beginning to think it will never stop."

". . . It will if you leave them alone."

"It will if you leave them alone."

"I haven't done a thing, and you know it!" the girl snapped, glowering in the man's direction. He nodded lazily, eyes closed and chin in his palm. The words, for once, hadn't been spoken as a threat. . . just as a fact; a warning.

Still rather sluggishly, he lifted one lid to peer in her direction. His lips quirked a bit, almost compassionately. ". . . I know."

". . ." The young lady flushed darkly, fiddling with her flowers. But the moment soon passed, and she seriously cleared her throat. "The end is coming soon, isn't it?"

"The end of something will be," he grunted, stretching out in the shade. "Either this state of stupidity, or your life, little love. Why do you not choose me?"

Kagome blew out her cheeks regretfully, touching a blossom to an unheard rhythm. "Why do you ask such things? I cannot hide anything from you—so you know that if it were just you, I would choose you."

The man humphed, tipping the rim of his sleek, dandelion-encrusted hat so that it would hide his face. "You are fighting destiny, beloved," he admonished, his voice a strange mixture of irritation and amusement beneath the forget-me-not sky.

"Perhaps," she agreed quietly. "But who's?"

He did not respond.

Then he was gone.

X

She closed the door as harshly as she could, locking it with a rusted key, praying to whoever would listen for help. Her hands would not stop quivering—!

He appeared instantly; watching the horizon of torchlight approach through the window. "It looks like you'll soon have company, little love."

Kagome released a small cry at the words, sliding down the wooden barrier with a horrified sob. "You must help!" she begged, her words muffled by her dirty fingers. "They're coming, they're coming!"

"I can see that."

"You must help me," she repeated desperately, gazing up at him with wide, watery eyes. "You know I have done nothing wrong! Please help me! I don't— I don't want to die!"

He stared down his nose at her, eyebrows quirked in mild disgust. . . then pity and misery. Crouching beside her, he sighed and tried to dry her tears. But his attempts were soon discovered to be in vain as she only released more— burying her face in his chest. And the man smiled at this, realizing that she was weakening.

"You know that I will do anything for you, little love," he breathed into her ear, nails drifting idly down her curled back. They sketched tiny pentagrams upon her dress. "And I would be glad to rid you of these heathen scum. But you must do something for me, first."

She shook; she trembled like a leaf. Yet she said nothing.

"Come now, little love, it will not be so bad!" he soothed, kissing her ear and crown. "I know it will be your first; I will be easy on you. And then we will be together for all of time. Won't that be nice? I love you, Kagome; be mine. Be mine for eternity—forever joined by shadows."

A pause. And then, to his surprise, the young woman hiccupped—and slowly pulled away, ebony bangs hiding her features. ". . . I'd rather be joined by light."

". . ." A sneer mangled his handsome features, aggravation sparking rage within his amber glare. "I will never understand your obsession with light."

"Nor yours with the dark," Kagome whispered, all color gone from her face. Noises were starting to pollute the night; angry noises and the sizzle of flames. "There is good in everything, you know. Even within you."

He hissed and looked away—concealing the hurt glitter within his eyes. "If that is what you choose, then I cannot help you little love."

A pause.

". . . I could have given you everything."

". . ." The teen said nothing for a moment. . . then, instead of pouting or denying or fighting this point, showed him a watery beam. "You already did."

With that, she dove foreword and kissed him—furiously, passionately, sorrowfully—until there was nothing there but the wind.

Her door was thrown open.

She surrendered.

X

The town rejoiced the dawn she was to burn, gathering from miles around to watch her slow death. Parties were planned, celebrations were scheduled; one or two farmers even began dancing in the street. The end of our suffering is near!, elders exclaimed, beaming widely at the awe-struck children. For never, ever in their young lives had they seen so much unbridled joy. We've found the witch; we've found her! And, though the toddlers understood none of this, their older counterparts smiled for the first time in years.

At last. . . Salem would be free. Free from the curses, jinxes, droughts, illnesses—all of the horrors that had plagued their beautiful city for the past fifteen years. Free from the dark shadow the trees had been casting. . . of the haunting full moon. . . Free of the witch.

People cheered as she was dragged into the street; fruits, and stones thrown at her in disgust. Her executioners yanked her long, thick hair; women spat at her pale feet; men stained her beautiful face with mud.

She wept.

But that was all.

And though they were at first pleased by her general cooperation, confusion soon began to grow in their constricting chests. Perplexity, bafflement; why did she cry so powerfully? She did not seem afraid. . . only heart broken. Was this a trap? They watched her timidly as she continued down the road, scalp and body bleeding from their rough ministrations.

But she said nothing; did nothing. There were no struggles, nor pleading, nor insisting of fraud or blame. Instead, the young woman smiled sadly—asking a ragged child to care for her cat as the mayor tightened the ropes around her white-clad body.

A priest stepped foreword; she shooed him away.

"I already know where I am headed. . . for he will miss me if I am not there." She grinned, albeit a bit forcefully, as the liquids of her body mixed upon her cheek. ". . . and I would miss him."

Then there was silence. A long silence; a heavy silence. It stretched from one end of the town to the next, swallowing every citizen like a monster. No one seemed quite sure of what to do; normally the victim would be begging for mercy by now.

But the witch simply waited, apparently without regret.

An executioner cleared his throat, summoning his torch. It was promptly brought to him, already brightly blazing. The crackle of the flames filled the mid-morning sky. All stared at it—even the woman.

Another long moment passed, then the man stepped foreword—dipping down so that the fires teasingly licked the prepared fodder.

"Do you have anything you'd like to say, Kagome?" he asked softly, almost gently; the light flickering in his eyes.

Kagome beamed—softly, calmly, wearily. ". . . I hope my death brings you the light you seek."

An inferno burst to life. . .

For there is joy and goodness in everything—everything in the world. Murder, death. . . even the Devil.

. . . her pained screams filled the sky. . .

Yes. . . even you, Inu-Yasha.

And from a shadowed corner, a solemn figure stood— back to the flames, fingers lightly pressed to the brick ally wall.

"No," he breathed. "No, little love, you're wrong. There is no good in me. There never has been; there never will be. Until the end of time. . .

Until the end of time."

The shadows consumed him.

He was gone.

X

X

X