The night sky lay before them, a black canvas littered with millions of little lights, some white, some red, some yellow and some blue. Some lay haphazardly, not a part of anything, just a light on its own. Others formed pictures, a cross, a bear, a mighty hunter, a fierce dragon, a lyrical musical instrument, whatever your eyes could see. And others stuck together in group, thousands of little lights all gathered in several spots. Most nights the lights were stationary – they would move across the sky over time but still stuck together in their groups or pictures. But some lights traveled great distances in a matter of seconds, streaking across the sky leaving a trail behind it.
And each one of them had a story.
Their nightly ritual had begun years ago, when she needed to get away and he was feeling the need for companionship. Initially conversation was stilted, both leery of the other and everything they represented. But it didn't take long for a bond to form, first of friendship, then of trust, and eventually something more.
Every night they searched for a story, be it one that was already known, or one they've had to delve deep into their imaginations to create.
And it never ceased to amaze her the variety of stories they managed to concoct from tales of animals making great journeys, or the heroics of people who were then honoured by the kamis. For a demon seemingly without outward emotion, without humility or understanding for those around him, she learned he had a sense of humour that could rival some of the finest comedians she had ever had the pleasure of hearing.
Such as the constellation Scorpius, now dubbed 'The Little Crab that Could', or Coma Berenices, which she knew had to do with Berenice's hair, but she didn't know who Berenice was and why they would name a constellation after her hair. So it was now a combination of the kamis' will, and Rapunzel.
But the story itself never really mattered to them. It was the time they spent together admiring the sky that was important, a pastime they would never give up and god willing, would still be doing when they were both old and gray, or she should say, when she was old and gray. He would still be as pristine as ever.
"What are those three stars Chichiue?" A little hanyou toddler girl sat next to him, back straight as a board, black hair blowing in the wind and her amber eyes wide with delight. She pointed ahead, eager to hear what her father had to say. If there was ever a case of hero worship … Kagome mused as she watched them from afar, duties in a nearby village keeping her from joining them earlier.
"That is Orion, the hunter," he confirmed, obviously remembering her instruction from way back. She smiled as she recalled that night. After a particularly harsh day and tired from wandering, she laid to rest in a nearby pasture and planned to fall asleep while looking up at the sky. She didn't expect his visit, didn't plan for it. Yet he was there, asking questions, sharing stories. He didn't offer comfort, somehow sensing she didn't want it. But she was comforted nonetheless by his mere presence.
It was the night she discovered she loved him.
And it was the night they both acted on that love.
"What is he hunting?"
"Many things," he explained. "Hunters mostly hunt food – fish, rabbit, any animals they could eat."
"But what was he hunting?" she asked again, following her father's fingers with her own tiny ones as he traced the shape in the sky.
"Two things. First was the bull."
"Taurus?" she asked looking at the V like shape in front of Orion.
"That's right, Taurus. But he also chased The Pleiades."
He pointed up to a cluster just past Taurus, seven bright stars sitting in a bed of fainter ones.
"Who are the Pleiades?"
Kagome hung back, wanting to hear Sesshoumaru tell the story she had first told him so long ago. Many nights, many stars, moons, meteors, comets and more, and the Pleiades were still her favourite.
"They are the seven sisters of the sky. Orion fell in love with each of them because of their beauty, and to help them escape, the gods turned them into stars in the sky. They became untouchable."
Although she couldn't see it, she knew her daughter's mouth was shaped like a perfect little 'o' as she thought about the chase. Three years old and she was already a hopeless romantic.
"How beautiful were they, Chichiue? What did they look like?"
And from a distance, she could feel her heart melt when she heard his answer.
"Like your mother. All seven of them looked like your mother," he replied softly.
Silence ensued as they both looked at the cluster above, a myriad of emotions crossing their faces – confusion, awe, adoration, love.
"I can only count six," she said as she pointed to them and reiterated her count. She nearly snorted as she heard his explanation.
"One of them made a grievous error and married beneath her station. She was immortal and wanted a mortal man, something that was not done. Therefore she is being punished."
"Are you being punished for marrying mama?" she asked, concern filling her voice at the thought of her hero-father being punished for anything.
"No. Your mother is the exception as she has power that surpasses that of many mighty youkai. The mortal man the star married had no power or riches to boast of at all, therefore he was not suitable."
She stood there, jaw open and fuming. He mated her for power, did he? Of all the Neanderthal comments he had the audacity to make, this one took the cake. Letting her aura flow from her, she made sure he could feel the anger radiating off it as she approached. It was time to make her presence known.
Her daughter's toothy grin greeted her as she came upon them, and she found she couldn't let Sesshoumaru know her thoughts at that moment. Later, tonight, when they were alone. Instead, she sat on his other side and leaned into him, stealing some of his warmth on the cool night.
"All is done?" he asked.
She nodded, not wanting to say more and spoil the night. There were many things to discuss that would be of interest to him. But they weren't to be spoken in front of a child. "What are we looking at?" she asked innocently, knowing that while she could fool her daughter, she couldn't fool him.
"Orion the hunter," she replied. "Mama, why is he frozen in the sky chasing the sisters? If the gods wanted him to stop, why would they put him there?"
"The gods wanted to punish him for wanting something he was never supposed to have. Instead of separating him from the sisters, they instead froze him nearby. Always on the hunt, always chasing them, but never able to catch them."
She leaned over her mate to tweak her daughter's nose, delighting in the childlike giggle. The woes of the world could be wiped away with that one giggle, a sound filled with nothing but innocence.
The three of them continued to look up and watch the night lights pass by. His arm wrapped around her, her head lay to rest on his shoulder as she struggled to stay awake. Looking over, she could see her daughter snuggled into her father's side, fast asleep, the bedtime tale having done it's job.
"Hey," she nudged him and waited for him to look at her. "Do you really think the seven sisters look like me?"
His eyes narrowed when it dawned on him she was listening the entire time. The minx. But what could he do but be honest with her. "Anything that glorious would have to look like you. I wouldn't have it any other way."
"Arrogant dog," she murmured looking back up at the Pleiades.
"Troublesome miko," he murmured back, wrapping his mokomoko-sama around her. "But unlike Orion, I've got you."
"So you do."
AN This fic is for ElegantPaws, who had the audacity to put an idea in my head that I couldn't shake away ;). I really thought I had this all wrapped and closed up. Only goes to show you how much I know.
So, this should now bring it full circle.
Thank you everyone for your wonderful reviews, they mean the world to me. elemental573, monkey-101, denise134, Rachelandthecupcakecrusades, llebreknit, SammehIsTehSecks, electric cat demon, KawaiiBitch (there are hundreds of constellations, I don't know the names of them all. I'm actually doing a certificate through the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada and it has a bunch of things I need to observe and log, such as constellations (so I know some), planets, moon craters, moon phases and lunar basins, multiple stars and deep sky objects. All I can say is I'm learning), kags-sesshy
ASS: Violetcarson, ElegantPaws, Phoenix Wolf (I'm honoured that you reread my work often. Anytime I try and do that – with my own work – I find about a dozen mistakes and it just makes me want to shut it down before I delete it), Reina, Jean, Wiccan and Al (I don't know why the story won't load for you properly as I've never had an issue with it. Raeko
And a big thanks to everybody on Ebony Silks for your wonderful words, and your votes too!
Disclaimer: See first fic