An Ordinary Woman
Bright morning sunlight shone in through the polished glass of the tall windows and fell in long, rectangular slices along the carpet and across the bed. Kikyo's eyes blinked open slowly, the last of night's sleep fading from her mind, her body. It took her no time to take in her surroundings and remember where she was.
Funny, she thought, this familiarity that she long ago thought had gone from her heart, from her memory. Funny to find it so intact and so ready.
One of the windows that led to the balcony had been left ajar and she could hear the sweet twittering of the birds that flitted about the many trees of the property, could smell the sweet, dewy scent of the roses wafting up from the garden below. After her parents had died, she had moved into the main house and for ten years, she had awoken every day to this same combination of sound, sight, and smell. When she ran away, she had never thought she would miss it, and all those years she had been gone, she never once thought about it, never once caught herself in an unguarded moment of reverie that traced back to these days she had, willingly and consciously, given up for something… more.
But today, it came back to her, those memories she had thought lost flooding back in with the sunshine, and for a moment, she was fifteen, sixteen, seventeen, getting up and getting ready for school. Her personal assistants, Kocho and Asuka would have already slipped in and out of the room, prepared her clothes, and run her bath. They would be downstairs now arranging her breakfast that they would take up to her room so she could eat it (in those days, the dining room was only ever used for dinner), and then they would have ushered her out the door to the car that was always waiting for her. And Inuyasha…
Inuyasha would come bounding across the lawn between their two houses, destroying flower beds and knocking over statues in his wake, grinning eagerly, a smile that said "I'm so happy to see you", a smile that was only for her.
Kikyo sighed at the recollection. Funny, she thought, how easily she had been able to let it go; let him go. Funny indeed how little her heart had wavered then. How little it wavered now.
Pushing herself to a sitting position, she slipped out of bed, careful not to disturb Sakura but to no avail. From her side, the girl turned, bleary eyes open and blinking back sleep.
Kikyo smiled. "Good morning. Did you sleep well?"
The girl yawned as she sat up and rubbed her eyes with her small fists. "J'ai fait un rêve," she drawled. "I had a dream. And you were there and so was that man. We had a little house and a garden full of flowers."
"That sounds nice," Kikyo commented idly. She reached for her brush resting on the nightstand and began running it through her hair in long, even strokes that caught no knots. "Who was the man?"
"Vous savez," Sakura replied. "Em… The man with the yellow flowers."
"Oui, Maman. Le monsieur au vissage effrayant."
"Did he frighten you?" Kikyo raised a worried brow, not sure of whom it was she was speaking of.
"Non. Il est très gentil." He is very nice, she said. "I was hungry and he gave me an apple."
Kikyo smiled again and transferred the brush to Sakura's head, working out the tangles from her impressively thick mane. "I hope you remembered to say thank you," she teased.
"Oui, Maman. I like him very much."
Finishing with her hair, Kikyo ushered her into the bathroom to wash her face and brush her teeth, and they began their day, memories of past lives forgotten for the moment until they went downstairs to find the dining room empty and breakfast waiting for them, instead, in the glass conservatory just before the rose garden. Kikyo had to stop as she saw the spread, their little table for two surrounded by silver carts loaded with pastries and fruit and covered plates of eggs prepared half a dozen ways, bacon and ham and little sausages, porcelain pots of tea and coffee, pitchers of juice, jars of jams and preserves and honey. A familiar sight. Something that had greeted her on the weekend mornings when she had no school or tutoring lessons, when she was free and Midoriko was home, and the two of them took a late breakfast together in this same room, in this same spot, with these same plates, and this same service.
A maid greeted them with a friendly smile and a reverent bow. "Good morning, Milady," she spoke without affectation. "My name is Sayo, and I've been given the honor of serving you today. Please take a seat," she said, pulling out the two heavy chairs from the table. "I hope breakfast is to your liking—we weren't quite sure what you might want this morning."
"Tell me, did Midoriko ask you to do this?" Kikyo inquired, keeping her tone idle as she led Sakura to a chair.
"Yes, of course, Milady. As I've heard it, Lady Midoriko has spoken personally to the head housekeeper and has instructed us to see to your every need and comfort during your stay."
"I see…" Kikyo didn't know whether or not to be amused, and wondered how well Midoriko knew this girl—her penchant for chattiness—and if that was, as well, part of whatever plan she was hatching. But all she said was, "Thank you, Sayo."
"Of course, milady. May I start you with some coffee or perhaps tea this morning?" she asked, raising one of the pots.
"No, thank you," Kikyo dismissed. "If you don't mind, we'll serve ourselves this morning."
The maid seemed taken aback with the request. "Are you sure, milady?" She stared wide-eyed at Kikyo, as if such a petition was unheard of in this house… which Kikyo believed it very well was. It was a fact of life, after all, in the manor—hovering maids and butlers who waited on a person hand and foot. It was what she had been raised on, what she was used to, and, more importantly, what she had left behind her.
"Yes," she answered decisively. "We'll be alright, thank you."
"Oh… As you wish then, milady." The maid bowed again. "There's a bell by the side table, of course. Please don't hesitate to use it should you need me."
"Thank you," Kikyo noted politely, and with a final bow, the maid left, closing the French doors behind her.
"Maman," Sakura commented when they were alone. "Why did she call you 'milady'?"
Pouring milk into a tall glass, Kikyo smiled at the question. "That's just what they do here, that's all."
"Should I call others like that, then?"
"No," Kikyo answered gently, serving her the glass along with some eggs and a Danish. "No one, do you understand? It's not for us to call anyone anything."
Reaching over, Kikyo stroked her hair, planted a short kiss on her temple, and smiled. "Because you and I, my darling, are beyond such things."
"Are you a princess?"
Kikyo suppressed a small laugh. "No. I'm not a princess; just an ordinary woman. Now please," she urged. "Eat your breakfast."
AN: Hullo. Sorry for this late, late update. If you didn't hear, my laptop charger died, so I had to buy a new one, and I've been semi-mired in preparations for a camping trip this upcoming week (which means I probably won't be able to update during that time, either). Anyway, to try and make up for it, I'll try and post another update later tonight or tomorrow morning. (Already working on it! But no, I couldn't wait and make it one chapter... it just didn't seem to work.)
Anyway, thanks once more for the reviews. Someday, I hope to be as dedicated as some of you. Lols.