Author's Note: This story is my old story "Spring of the Heart" re-vamped, edited, and, I like to think, improved.

Disclaimer: I do not own Inu Yasha, nor do I own the rights to him. I merely possess a few DVDs and a slight obsession with the manga and the anime. Oh yeah, and I have a Sessho Maru bookmark. I don't even own any plushies. How sad is that?

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Prologue: In Memory of Rin

Sessho Maru looked down at the grave of the little girl whom he had raised since she had been a little tyke. To the eye he was as quiet and emotionless as always, but deep down he hurt.

"M--Master?" came an uncertain squeak. Jaken. "Master?" he asked again. "It's been days. Shouldn't you come inside?"

"How many days, Jaken?" The little imp jumped a few feet when at last Sessho Maru spoke.

"Two weeks, m'lord. Two weeks since Rin was laid to rest."

Laid to rest The words rang hollowly in Sessho Maru's pointed ears. "No, Jaken. She was not laid to rest. She was just a child and those bastards murdered her. They killed one of their own just because of me. She shouldn't have died."

Jaken listened quietly, all the while growing more and more frightened. This wasn't like Sessho Maru. Yes, he knew that he had cared for the girl, but he had never seen his master like this. Normally it seemed that nothing ever could and never would phase him. Jaken now realized that his master truly was heartbroken.

Sessho Maru fell quiet once again. His youkai senses were aware of Jaken's clumsy shuffle as he left his master to grieve, but his mind was somewhere else. Rin is dead because of me. They killed her because of me.

Sessho Maru stared quietly at the angry villagers. They had a captive. They had kidnapped Rin. Sessho Maru had smelled the trouble from miles away, the smell of Rin's fear reaching him the strongest, intermingled with the smell of the human men. Anger flashed across his normally emotionless eyes. They dare hurt Rin? Sessho Maru had run home with the blinding speed that his demon blood gave him, but it still was not fast enough. They had taken Rin, taken the Tenseiga, and had severely injured Jaken, who had tried to stop them.

The kidnappers had tried to confuse Sessho Maru's senses by splitting up, but he had tracked Rin's captor without a problem. However, he had failed to sense the trap that had resulted in his being surrounded by an angry army of villager men, one of whom held a knife to Rin's throat. Another villager held the Tenseiga. Before Sessho Maru's eyes the Tenseiga was shattered.

Sessho Maru turned his attention back to the man who was threateningly digging the tip of his knife into Rin's neck.

"Sessho!" she whimpered.

Sessho Maru's cold eyes glowered icily at the man. "You coward. She is not part of this. You have not the courage to face me so you succumb to your own cowardice to attack one of your own"

"Demon!" spat the man. "She may have been human once, but now there is no telling since she has been with you! For all we know she could be possessed and no longer human!"

"She is but a child," Sessho Maru's normally emotionless voice now ground out with a tinge of desperation. If Rin was killed he would be unable to help her now that the Tenseiga was destroyed.

"Shut up, demon!" shouted the villager. "You must pay for all the lives you have destroyed so callously!"

"Then by all means, try and make me pay, but do not put my debt on the shoulders of this girl. She is innocent and has done you no wrong."

Somehow Sessho Maru's quiet plea only angered the villagers more. The man raised the knife and...

Sessho Maru closed his eyes painfully at the memory of the knife slicing into Rin's neck, her innocent blood spurting out onto the sand in a red fountain of atonement for a crime she had never committed. He had sprang and caught her tiny body before it could hit the ground. That action had provoked the villagers to attack. He had crouched over Rin's lifeless body to protect her further from the sword blades and arrows that assaulted them on every side. He himself was wounded badly before he could gather up the strength to explode from the angry mob, launching himself into the sky.

"After him! Don't let him escape!" shouted Rin's murderer, thus inspiring the furious mob to pursue Sessho Maru. Despite his grievous injuries Sessho Maru flew away at impossible speeds, tenderly cradling the little girl in his arms. He knew that the villagers were after him, but the castle was still the safest place that Rin could be. Gently laying her on a bed, Sessho Maru took one last look at her before barking orders to poor Jaken to watch over her and then leaping away to confront the mob. They were close. Their hatred gave them abnormal speed.

Sessho Maru's own hatred mixed with a newfound emotion--grief--made him an even more formidable foe. He could see the mob now, high as he was in the sky. His face was as cold and emotionless as a noh mask. Only his eyes, so cold that they could freeze over the hottest desert, gave any clue as to the pain that he felt. He fell, intending to fall right in the middle of the mob. He would destroy them all, starting with the cold- hearted son of a bitch who had murdered such an innocent child.

Sessho Maru's fists clenched. Cold-hearted son of a bitch who had murdered such an innocent child. His mental description of Rin's killer blazed through his mind. And yet I am much worse than that. I have slaughtered whole villages of innocents, men, women, and children alike. Sessho Maru felt something warm and wet drip off his knuckles. Blood. He opened his fists to reveal the cuts that his claws had embedded in his palms. This caused him to remember all the innocent blood on his hands. He looked back down at Rin's grave. That alone saved him from falling further into his self loathing. She had seen through him. She had known that he was evil, and yet she had known that that wasn't who he really was. She had seen through his cold-hearted persona and had believed in him. She had seen what everyone else had been blind to. He remembered when she had found him so injured and had kept silently bringing food to him, despite his harsh words toward her. She had even brought injury upon herself by stealing food for him. The corners of Sessho Maru's mouth twitched slightly upward as he remembered the day that she had been beaten for his sake. She had still offered him a wide, happy grin, somewhat devoid of teeth, despite the pain that she was suffering. He remembered the day that the wolf demons had attacked her village, slaughtering everyone. She had run to him, but had been unable to outrun the wolves. They had pounced on her and had violently shaken the life from her tiny body. Sessho Maru had come upon the bloody scene, frightening the wolves off. He had looked down at her tattered body intending to coldly turn his back on her. Yet the memory of her bruised, toothy smile amidst her pain had stopped him. He had used Tenseiga to bring her back.

Tenseiga. Destroyed. Sessho Maru's eyes closed again. Rin's killers had destroyed the Tenseiga. Somehow they had known of the Tenseiga's powers and knew that he would use it to bring Rin back if they killed her. They had taken away that hope.

"Rin," Sessho Maru whispered softly, unable to keep silent any longer. "I failed you." He knelt down and put his hands on the mostly- settled earth of Rin's grave. He hadn't been able to bring himself to burn her body. If it was at all possible that the Tenseiga could be restored, he wanted to be able to bring her back. His shoulders slumped. What good would that do? She could still be hurt because of me. The thought of Rin suffering because of him was a knife twisting in his youkai heart--the heart that used to feel nothing.

"Rest assured that I will not fail again."