Author's Note: this was a hard story to write, as I don't actually care for the Kagura/Sesshoumaru pairing. In spite of my apathy, however, I think this turned out well. Your feedback (pro or con) would be much appreciated.


Kagura sometimes wonders, in those moments between breaths, how one with no heart can love, but love she does. She has come to appreciate the finer nuances of dichotomy, surrounded as she is by it. Born without a mother, illogic is familiar to her; dear, even. Yes, neither she nor her siblings have a mother, but neither do they have a father; the body of Naraku had been stolen; his soul, plundered decades earlier.

(what, then, is left?)

One can go on for hours about philosophical origins, about the aggregate state of existence and the meaning of life, but one would have lost Kagura as one's audience; she is far too impatient and pragmatic for that.

If you ask her, Kagura would say that the meaning of life is to live, and the purpose of a heart is to beat. Having it stolen from her, her actions extorted from her by its theft, is an unnecessary complication.

(if Naraku would only treat her as a daughter, she'd do whatever he asks)

But with Naraku, always there is a space between what is necessary, and what he wants; a crack through which falls the incidentals of his existence.

(she is just another one of them)

Kagura feels an odd complicity with her father, the first time she lays eyes on Sesshoumaru. Wanting him is not necessary; neither is it prudent. And yet, want him she does, and fiercely. The thought of him sends her blood rushing through her veins

(pumped by what, she wonders)

and heat coursing over her body until peeling off her many layers of kimono, letting cool air flow around her bare limbs, is a grace.

So many questions, and likely never to be answered. Beneath all those layers of clothing, how does he look? What does he smell like? Is his scent as cool and remote as his appearance?

(fresh rain, or the smell of snow)

Or is he warm and musky, with the faint tang of salt, like other men? Kagura thinks she'd very much like to bury her face against the crease where hip meets thigh, to inhale and absorb him.

But that thought gives rise to others, and others, and others, and soon Kagura has even more questions. Her nights are consumed by pondering how he would be as a lover.

(between her legs, she feels wet as a river, but empty, empty without him)

What does Sesshoumaru taste like? She fancies he is redolent of the sea, for no reason she can discern, with a lingering trace of bitterness after she swallows, tongue brushing palate, velvet on satin. Her fingers work aching flesh until she arches, a strung bow of tension and hollow, fleeting delight.

The feel and taste of him fade from her mind like ghosts, and she curls into herself, lost.

Pain and blood aside, Kagura is glad it will soon be over. She feels no surprise that her father would be the one to kill her, in fact has always suspected it would be him. She wasn't as discreet as she might have been, in helping Sesshoumaru and Inuyasha and the others.

One could mention, at this point, how there are no mistakes; how her actions were an unconscious attempt to force Naraku's hand and bring about her freedom one way or another. Or one might posit that her hatred of Naraku, and of herself as his child, has led to a subconscious quest for nihilistic self-destruction.

But these, too, are too complex for simple Kagura, for all she ever wanted was to be free.

(and now she is free, but soon she will be dead, and what use is that?)

In spite of it all, Kagura is an optimist. Adventuresome, too, and so her thoughts turn from maudlin, to curious, to exultant.

"Where will I go from here?" she asks no one in particular. "I can go anywhere."

(I am free I am free I am free)

But here's the slip, the catch, the flaw in the perfection of it all: she is free, but her body isn't able to listen to the commands her brain sends it. And once again, though her chest is full instead of echoing, cave-like and vacant, the chasm between 'want' versus 'have' yawns before her: she's alone, when she wants so desperately not to be.

She can give her loyalties to whomever she wants, now, and there's no one there to offer them to. Flowers drift by, blown by the currents stirred by the dissolution of her body, a silken kiss of petal and leaf against her hands as they grow more insubstantial.

(and then he is there)

Kagura can scarcely believe it, and indeed suspects it might be another one of her longing-spawned imaginings. But his silence never felt so heavy, when she dreamt of him before, and never, never had she seen this grave expression on his face. The weight of his sadness is something that steals the breath from her lungs, breath she can ill afford to spare just now, and hope is a flame that leaps within.

"Sesshoumaru!" Her eagerness-amazement-gladness cannot be contained.

"I followed the scent of Naraku's shouki," he says.

The flame flickers, and dies; something in her belly twists with wry humour.

"Ah. You'll be disappointed, then. Naraku isn't here."

She expects him to leave, to go hunting his foe. But he doesn't, only stands there, staring down at her. There is a sort of confused softness in his eyes, an alarmed widening, and Kagura wondered if she's missed something, somewhere.

"I knew it was you."

(he came to me he came to me he came)

Amazement, then a rush of anger-bitter-outrage. That it takes her death to make him show something of himself to her! But of course, that is how he is, and she wouldn't want him any other way. The knowledge of it makes her smile.

"I see," she says, and she does. "You knew… and so you came?"

He says nothing; she didn't expect him to. He reaches for the sword that renders to him a power usually only granted to a deity, but Tenseiga cannot save her now, and slowly, his hand falls away from its hilt. Kagura can feel herself fading away, little gusts that tingle, quicksilver bubbles that melt into mist.

"Are you going now?" There is a solemn note to his voice that speaks of tragedy, of regret, of missed chances and lost opportunities.

But Kagura thinks that perhaps it's best this way, because had she lived, her love would have tethered her to him. She is not ready for that sour irony, not now, and probably not ever.

"Yeah," she answers easily, a smile hovering, featherlike, on her lips. "It's fine."

And she lifts her eyes to his, wanting-trying to convey with them what she'd never found the words to say.

(in the end I was with you)

Her death, when it comes, is a paroxysm; Kagura convulses as the molecules of her body simply give up their hold on each other.

Again, there is a space, a void; again, a breach, and she returns to what she was, before she was. Kagura slides back into her natural state, accepting the inevitable, and finally, she is released.

Sesshoumaru watches until no trace of her remains except a single feather, and then he walks away.

He too knows the value of being free.