A/N: Shorty story written for Livejournal comm "firsttweak"

Tall and splendid, his armor shining gloriously, the beautiful demon lord stood before the parents of his beloved. His hair was like a silken snowfall over his shoulders and his eyes captured sunlight, turning it warm with laughter. He was devastating in his grace, and deadly on the battlefield, but his expression became gentle when he looked upon the face of his betrothed.

Ah, the maiden. So fair that flowers might weep in envy, but so modest that she could hardly raise her eyes without blushing. So delicate was she, this sweet and lovely lady, that she kept her face draped with sheer silk even in the presence of her own father. You could sense her beauty even without looking upon it, for as soon as she entered the room all inside would sigh and murmur. Such was the effect of her innocence, and loveliness, upon mortal hearts.

And immortal ones as well, for all could see the great lord tremble and flush, so undone was he by this maiden and her gentle smile.

These two belonged together, and to each other, and only the vilest of hearts would have ever tried to keep them apart. Although the lady was human, and her betrothed a fierce youkai, their love was the kind of magic that only mystics and seers could dream. Even the gods themselves must have wept when the great lord of the Western inuyoukai came to kneel at her feet.

And then the maiden's father came forward, placing his sweet daughter's hand on that of her future husband's, and declared with tears in his eyes that his joy of their union knew no bounds. He was so pleased with their match that he sobbed like a child and your father, who was a great demon among demons, had tears in his own eyes that

SMACK!

"Inuyasha!"

Anxious, Kagome wrestled to pry Inuyasha's fingers apart until she was able to free the squashed flea-demon. "I am so sorry, Myouga-san," she apologized profusely. "Please, continue with the story…"

Sweating a bit, the flea bowed to the girl. "Certainly. As I was saying, Inuyasha's grandfather was so happy about his daughter's marriage to such a noble lord as Inuyasha's father that he…"

"You are so full of shit!" Myouga squeaked and barely missed another squashing as Inuyasha slapped his palms together again. The hanyou bared his teeth at the little demon. "And a fucking liar!"

"Now, Inuyasha," Kagome said reprovingly. "That's not very polite…"

Inuyasha snorted, but didn't try to swat Myouga again and the flea retreated without additional injuries. "He's just making it up," he finally muttered. "I know damned well what my mother's family thought about them, and it wasn't no fairy tale! They hated that she married a youkai and had a half-breed brat."

Sighing, Kagome patted his arm. "You were the one that asked him," she reminded Inuyasha. "If you didn't want to hear about your parents, then why did you ask?"

Inuyasha muttered something to himself and tried to avoid her smile. Damn it, he wasn't even the one who wanted to know. Kagome had been asking questions and he figured Myouga might actually be able to answer them. How did they meet, where did they fall in love…

How did their families react to a youkai marrying someone of the human race?

So he'd asked Myouga to tell the story…he just didn't know the little bastard was going to bullshit her like this!

"I thought it was a little too perfect," Kagome said at last, still smiling dreamily at whatever image she'd conjured up of the long-dead lovers. "Isn't there anyone else who might know? If Myouga was making it up, could someone else tell you what really happened?"

Inuyasha scowled, thinking of someone who'd been there at the time. Someone who definitely wouldn't sugarcoat the truth or try to put a pretty spin on the story. If he'd even talk to them at all…this wasn't going to be pleasant.

"I was trying to avoid asking him."

Amid the squalor of a pathetic human village, there was one house that was even filthier than the rest. The man who lived there was a thief and a drunkard, but his daughter was much worse. She'd been known as the village whore since she was old enough to proposition a male, and it was no secret that a night between her legs was for sale to any man with currency.

As long as he didn't mind the prospect of becoming diseased…or infested…or waking up with his throat slit. Although she might have been considered attractive by anyone who didn't mind bedding down with such a common creature, she was by youkai standards quite pitifully plain.

The woman was clever in a mercenary sort of way. Realizing that the beds of men could only raise her so far, she set her ambitions upon a regal lord of the West. She must have caught his eye with her wanton charms, or her simpering flattery. It was said by no few that her…talents…were literally performed on bended knee.

But the youkai lord was smitten enough to offer her a place at his side…as a sort of lesser concubine, of course. He paid some small sum to her father, I believe, who was happy enough to sell off an aging daughter for any price he could get.

No, I do not think that it mattered to him that his daughter was taken away by a youkai. Crude and ignorant as most humans tend to be, I scarcely think he noticed the breed of his daughter's benefactor. Civilized youkai, however, were scandalized by the taint to such a noble house. To corrupt a pure bloodline with such an inferior race was indeed quite shocking.

If one needs proof of how a powerful heritage can become diluted by such racial impurity, one needs look no further than that woman's half-breed son

Growling, his teeth bared and his claws extended, Inuyasha lunged at his brother before Kagome managed to pull him back. Even if the two had come to some kind of grudging reconciliation, Sesshomaru never lost an opportunity to needle his younger sibling about his half-blood status.

"Thank you, Sesshomaru-sama," the girl said, keeping one hand clamped over the hanyou's mouth before another argument could erupt. The peace between them had been hard won, but under the circumstances she thought that Inuyasha might have been pushed a bit too far by his brother's obviously jaded perspective regarding "relations" between human and youkai.

It was a good twenty minutes before Inuyasha had calmed down enough to speak in something besides growls and curses.

"That prick," he snarled, clutching Kagome's hand as they made their way through the forest. "He just loves to fuck with me. Last time I ever ask him for anything!"

"I don't know what you expected," Kagome said softly, rubbing his arm to soothe him. "Inuyasha, why is this such a big deal to you? I was just curious about how they met, it's nothing to get so upset over."

Inuyasha stopped, staring at the ground as if it might provide answers for him. How could he tell her, what was she expecting to hear? Relationships between humans and youkai never worked out. It was like the two races were only born to be at odds with each other. There wasn't a single hanyou he ever known that hadn't felt the sting of rejection, of never belonging and always being an outsider in the either of both races.

Always the outsider…

"I guess I just wanted to know what made it worth it to them," he finally said, a bitter note in his voice. "They knew that no one would accept them, or accept their child. So why bother having me at all? Was it just an accident or did they…"

He trailed off and then took a deep breath before looking into Kagome's eyes. "Did they even want me at all?"

Kagome squeezed his hand again. "I'm sure they did," she murmured.

Shrugging, he turned away and started walking again. "My mother died when I was just a brat and I never knew my father…I suppose I'll never know the truth."

"If it's the truth you're looking for, you should ask me!"

Inuyasha found himself glaring into the three eyes of a certain ox and groaned to himself. Just what he needed. Toutousai couldn't even remember his name half the time, how the hell could he remember what had really happened so long ago? And deny it as he might, Inuyasha found that he really wanted to know the truth.

Whatever it was.

No matter how painful.

Not even if…

"The truth," the old smith said, cackling at them from across a small campfire. "You sure you're ready to hear it, boy?"

Inuyasha muttered something foul under his breath, but Kagome leaned into him with a smile. "Of course he's ready," she said, nodding her head when Inuyasha slouched deeper as if his whole body was bracing for an attack.

"Just get to the story, old man."

Toutousai made a show of scratching his ears. "The story, " he said slowly, "was about a bog demon named Zamaguhi…"

"Damn it," the hanyou snarled.

"Or was it Zamagumi?"

"I'm gonna kill him, Kagome!"

"Oh yes," Toutousai said with a fond smile. "I think it was Zamagushi. Anyway, your father was battling with this bog demon one day. Seems the slimy fellow was making a nuisance of himself, gobbling up travelers and being disagreeable. Your father pursued him across the countryside with a single minded sort of…"

Inuyasha groaned, covering his face with his hands as Kagome bit back a smile. "What does that have to do with my mother?" he finally said, his words muffled from behind his fingers. "She wasn't a bog demon."

"Of course not," Toutousai snapped, waving his finger in Inuyasha's face. "She was human. You should know that, if you were half bog demon, you wouldn't even be able to stand your own smell!"

"Toutousai-san, please," Kagome said gently, reaching out to touch the old demon's hand. "About Inuyasha's mother?"

"Haven't you been listening, girlie?" Toutousai seemed offended for some reason. "It was her wall that he knocked over!"

"Her…wall?"

Pleased that he now had their undivided attention, Toutousai resumed scratching at his ear hair as he continued. "Yes, yes…your mother's wall. Well, your father was chasing a bog demon and when he finally caught up with Zamagushi, he wasn't in any good mood. He blasted 'im right off his feet, tore up the forest pretty good too!"

The old smith cackled loudly, enjoying the story now that he was describing Tessaiga's exploits. "What he didn't know what that on the other side of the forest, there was this manor house belonging to a local human lord. Well, the lord was away from the manor at the time, but when that blast tore down her garden wall, the lord's eldest daughter came running out, mad as all hell!"

"Really?" Kagome breathed, her eyes wide as Inuyasha remained silent with surprise. "That was Inuyasha's mother?"

Toutousai grinned. "Oh yes, that was her. Regular little spitfire, came out using language that would have made a soldier cry! It was quite a funny sight, your father used to say, with her being so small and so angry. When she finally calmed down enough to listen, he did apologize."

Kagome and Inuyasha leaned forward when Toutousai waved them closer. "You wanna know what she did then?" he leered.

"What?"

"She said if he wanted to apologize, he should damned well fix that wall!"

Toutousai beamed at them as if expecting some kind of reaction. What he got was confused silence while Kagome nibbled at her lower lip and Inuyasha rolled his eyes. Obviously they didn't understand the significance of the matter, to call upon the great dog lord of the West, the Inu no Taisho himself, like a common carpenter…

"So did he do it?" Inuyasha asked bluntly. "What's so damn important about a wall?"

It took him three days to fix the wall, something he could have done with no more than a wave of his hand. But a wave of his hand wouldn't have impressed this girl, no more than any other youkai magic. Instead he sweated it out, putting stones on top of stones and mixing the rude materials together to form a basic mortar.

All the while he watched the eastern windows for a glimpse of her face. At first suspicious, then confused, as he labored like a field worker in the hot sun. Finally, the tiny frown lines between her brows smoothed away and she came out on the third afternoon and asked him if he'd like a drink of water.

"It's not very well done," she said at last as she examined the wall.

"It will keep the forest creatures from your garden," he answered as he sipped from the cup she'd offered.

"I did not expect a youkai to keep his word," the girl said at last, a note of chagrin in her serious little voice. She turned and bowed to him. "I apologize for doubting you."

"Accepted." For a long moment, they both stood quietly, unsure of what to say. Finally the girl took a deep breath and faced him directly, meeting his eyes and the Inu no Taisho felt something quake deep inside him at her serious and sober expression.

"I would invite you in, but my father is not in residence," she said, stiff and somewhat embarrassed.

"Of course."

"He would not like a youkai in his home." The girl hesitated and then lifted her chin almost belligerently. "But the garden is mine to do with as I choose. Will you stay and have a meal with me, lord youkai?"

"I would be delighted".

Toutousai paused in his telling, seeing Kagome's eyes start to shine and Inuyasha puff out his cheeks in disbelief. "What's the matter?"

"That's it? That's how they met, he just knocked down her garden wall and had to fix it?" If anything, Inuyasha looked disappointed, as if their meeting had been anticlimactic for him.

"I think it's sweet," Kagome said softly.

"It was," Toutousai agreed. "But of course things did not go smoothly after that."

"This is not what I want for you," he said, cupping her chin in his hand.

"I don't care," Izayoi answered. "I want to be with you, don't you understand?"

His eyes looked so sad when she asked him to take her away. Although she hadn't trusted him at first, she'd found him to be kind and funny, strangely sweet when they'd meet in the garden. He never put a finger on her, or made any suggestion that she give up her chastity. He was, instead, chivalrous and old-fashioned, and treated her as gently as one would treat a child.

As the eldest daughter, she was expected to be responsible. Her father had trusted her with the running of the household although she was still quite young. She managed very well, keeping her siblings in line and even dealing with the destruction of the garden wall. The last thing she'd ever expected was that a youkai might destroy it, or rebuild it with his bare hands to prove himself.

But her father had returned and been horrified at the company she kept. When she'd pleaded that it was only innocent friendship, he'd announced that he couldn't have any questions about her honor. For in the next breath, he'd announced that he'd chosen a husband for her and that she would be married in the spring.

And in that moment, she'd realized that she'd fallen in love with her youkai friend and could not bear the idea of going to another man.

"Your life would not be easy," he told her in his softly deep voice. "Humans won't accept you…or any children we might have. My own people will despise you…especially my own son. Is that what you wish, to stay at my side even if your own family will never accept it?"

She knew he was wavering and looked into his eyes to see something warm and compelling. He wanted her, she knew it. He wanted to be with her as much as she wanted to be with him and she wished for a long moment that so many walls did not stand between their two races.

"Tell me it will be worth it," she said, pulling herself into his embrace. "Tell me that in the end…it will be worth it."

"Was it?" Inuyasha demanded, jumping to his feet to glare at Toutousai. "What did he tell her?"

"Eh?" Toutousai dug at his ear, sniffing at his fingers while Inuyasha ground his teeth. "What did he tell her about what?"

Even Kagome was exasperated now. "Did he take her away then? How did she tell her family? How did he tell his family, when did they get married?"

Toutousai stared at her. "Who are you again? Did you two want to get married or something?"

Kagome started sputtering as Inuyasha held her back. "You're not getting anything else out of him," the hanyou muttered. "Once he starts faking that he doesn't know who you are, it's all over."

"But we didn't get an answer!" the girl cried. "You wanted to know why they wanted to be together, why they decided to have a baby in spite of all the prejudice against them!"

"Maybe I have my answer," he said slowly as Kagome turned in his arms. She was suddenly aware of how close they were and found herself blushing.

"The answer is that it didn't matter to them," Inuyasha murmured. "I guess they loved each other so much, it didn't matter what everyone else thought."

"Is that enough?" Kagome whispered, wondering about the way he was looking at her now. "Is it enough to know that they loved each other?"

"It will have to be. It's all they had, so it's going to be good enough for me."

Kagome found herself smiling at him rather foolishly and then giggled as he squeezed her hand.