Disclaimer: I do not own Inuyasha nor any of the following characters. The haiku have been written by me.


Reticence
"Izayoi!" He calls and my heart jumps. "As cold as the moon on a winter night, and just as beautiful."

I do not blush – I have no reason.

"My lord."

He stalks behind me and I hear something drop to the ground; I know he is kneeling.

"Luminous, ethereal, eternal..."

"My lord, there is no call for such language, particularly where it is not well received."

I can feel the ends of my hair lifting and I hear him inhale deeply.

"Your scent holds snow in it." He murmurs softly. "And yet, such dulcet tones adjoin it too."

I will my heart steady.

"Reach not for the moon,

Lest thine arm frozen become.

She would have you safe."

Another breath and I can sense my resolve plummeting.

"I seek not the moon,

Her sole dweller I would but

Bestow me a smile."

His arms creep up the length of my hair gentle, slow, tempting. I grit my teeth.

"I must protest, my lord."

"You must?"

I do dislike him teasing me.

"My lord, you know well your situation without my needing to reiterate."

And then I hear the sigh that is my undoing – the sigh that speaks of his defeat. It is that sounds that shatters my heart. In the pale moonlight he suddenly looks his age – nigh a millennium of winter nights etched on his face.

"I cannot make you believe me." His voice is just as soft as earlier but the pain is palpable.

"You are a demon, and I…cannot compare with that."

"It matters not to me."

"Oh, but it does. Do you not see, my lord? Your name, the title you have striven to attain will be muddied by association with one such as myself. I…"

"Do not speak it!" His voice is not raised but his tone chills me.

"It is the truth. I am unworthy…unsuitable." Undesirable!

He clenches his fist and I know he is trying to hold himself back. Each second brings more torment to my heart: I love this man, this demon. I am in love with him. Sadder still, he reciprocates – an emotion which I know must be tearing at him. Still, here he is, many-a moon on, continuing to visit me, to court me in secret. His hurt is obvious and it pains me all the more. I do not know what to do to spare him. Time cannot be undone, I cannot erase our meeting, I cannot save his heart.

"Why can it not ever be just us?"

I am not certain if it is he or I who speak the words but they echo inside me.

"I do not care about your heritage. I never have. I am prepared to defend my title. None of that should matter, though. Izayoi, cruel Izayoi, how much longer will you make my pride bow before you in vain?"

Cruel! He calls me cruel! I have not the heart to speak of love to him for fear of his safety and he...I bite my lip. I shall not be goaded into a confession. I need him to be safe, alive. Any hint of kindness, of emotion, and I know he will stay with me – I know I will cost him everything.

"You weep." He says and instinctively I reach a hand up to wipe away the offending tear. He leans towards me. "You weep in your heart."

My gasp is very much involuntary and that is all it takes for him to press his lips to mine. He is moonlit darkness, fire and wildness all at once. Emotions bubble up inside me and I react despite myself.

He looks at me – shocked, surprised, enraged, I know not which – redness spreads across his cheek like blood on snow.

My heart is in my throat. What in the world possessed me? To hit a man…any man was unthinkable; to hit a demon was a death guarantee.

Confused and panicked, words tangle in my mind and I cannot speak. This may be what would make him leave and never return. My shameful behaviour may be his salvation – as well as my death. I cannot control the shudder that slithers through me.

"Is this your choice then, Izayoi?" He asks just when I think time had stopped. "You are disgusted at my touch? You despise me so that you would hit me to escape?"

No, no, no! That's not true at all! I bite my lip harder still and nod, my heart shattering all the while.

"I am not for you, nor are you for me." I manage to say although my teeth are chattering. In his eyes for the first time I see the warrior gone. He is a broken man despite the calm mask he is wearing.

"Farewell then, Izayoi, my princess." He stands up; I refuse to follow him with my eyes, instead I stare unseeingly at the snow. It is soft, beautiful and white, white like the numbness that is spreading over me. "I wish you the best, my princess. May you be blessed with strong sons, beautiful daughters, and a rich and fulfilling life."

I nod absently. I do not want to hear kind words. I want him to hate me! Hatred will spare his heart from the grief that comes with parting from a lover.

"I will pray for your continued health and happiness and, Izayoi…" He turns towards me. "I will pray that you may a have a loving husband, a man who will love you more than I have and be selfless enough to not make you cry. I apologise for each tear I have caused." He bows to me and I feel my heart exploding, spilling through my eyes,

"Even now I hurt you." He looks at my face fixedly but doesn't move to wipe the tears. I raise my sleeve and excuse myself. I love him! So much! More tears mark my face.

I pray to the gods that he has gone. I turn my head, and there he still is: on the veranda, staring at the moon. Something shines on his face and my breath runs out when I realize he, too, is crying.

My mind is decided, finally in alignment with my heart. The world be damned! Let them speak! Let them gossip! I love this man-demon with all my heart and I will tell him. What good is a long life filled with denial and pain? Is that even life? Suddenly I feel selfish for not counting his happiness in my plan for his longevity. It matters not. I stand up (no easy task in a gradually layered, multiple-lining kimono and a woollen over-jacket) and once I am certain of my balance I totter towards him. He turns to gaze at me, seemingly unperturbed by the tears that are still making their way down his face. When I reach him at last I have to apologise.

With much effort I manage to bend my knees enough to allow me to bow properly. He pulls me up before I reach the ground.

"There is no need for such an apology." I raise my head – I cannot read his eyes well, but my hand reaches out to wipe his tears. My sleeve is too heavy for such upward moves of the arm and my movements are clumsy but I refuse to be deterred.

"Izayoi…" His face is nearing mine, his eyes fix on me. "This path you choose..." Are you certain? The question hangs between us, unspoken.

"I am certain." I am not lying. Happiness shines in his beautiful eyes and I know it is the right decision. "I…I choose whichever path my lord walks." He grasps me tightly and kisses my hair all the while whispering of his gratefulness. I am truly touched.

"Can I ever protect you?" I muse out loud.

"No. Then again, no-one can really be protected from anything which the fates have already ordained for them." He steps back; his next gesture leaves me gaping with disbelief. "I entrust you with all I am: my mind, my heart, my body, my spirit. They are all to you. All for you." He is kneeling before me. I know what an honour it is: the great Dog General kneeling at all is astonishing; that he is kneeling before me is beyond comprehension. I kneel in turn and grasp his hands.

"I pledge myself to you with all I am." I whisper relishing the flood of light that spills in his eyes. "Thank you…for loving me." I kiss his hand softly before being enveloped once more in his arms.

"I am fortunate to know such love." He murmurs before capturing my lips again.

He continues to hold me; the snow falls.


Author's Note: Not quite Christmas-y but it does have snow :p Have a wonder-fun day and best wishes for the year ahead :) Thank you all for reading my stories, for your feedback - it means more than I can say.