A/N: Like I explained in my profile, I forgot my old e-mail and password so I had to create a new account. This is the fic I most wanted to continue so I'll be revising and re-writing each chapter for fragment! The reason for this authors note is to say that if you've read this fic before or come across it some other time - I did not steal it. It was mine to begin with. I'm the same author, just under a different name, so no one freak out on me, okay? Oh, and of course: I got the initial inspiration for this fic from the animated movie Anastasia. That's the point. Any similarities are for a reason, but, happily, there is no copy right infringement, right? I won't be following the plot line exactly...or hardly any, really. The movie just sparked an idea and my muse kind of ran with it. Just wanted to give credit where credit was due.
Brisk winter winds beat away at the small amount of heat she had been receiving and enjoying from the sun. Spring should have been well on its way by now, but it seemed that winter wanted to keep its icy grip on the world for as long as possible. So, it continued to chase away the sun's comforting rays.
It had snowed all night the night before and her boots were marring the perfect white blanket that had been spread ever so carefully on the ground. A particular strong, almost angry, gush of wind pushed her down as if it were punishing her for destroying the perfect marble master piece beneath her clumsy feet. With a small thud she landed on her back on the hard, cold ground. The beige hat she wore promptly fell off her head, revealing long black tresses that curled and crimped slightly at the ends.
Her breath was visible when she allowed a loud, pent up sigh escape from her slender throat. This was just going to be one of those days. She knew it. It had started badly when the grouchy old hag that owned the orphanage where she lived gave her the revolting job of fetching the eggs out of the chicken coop.
Sure, that may not be the hardest task in the world. And when dealing with your average chicken it wasn't. But these chickens, these chickens were the poultry from hell. These were like demonic Kung Fu, Jackie Chan incarnate chickens.
From her involuntary spot on the cold ground she looked up to the heavens. She wasn't below trying to stall for time. Crisp blue sky and the dark bark of the trees, damp from the melting snow, met her frustrated gaze. She had no desire to get up at all. Getting up meant resuming the boring every day routine that got her nowhere. Getting up meant no fun, no friends, and no family. All she had to look forward to was her studies and the two years that lay ahead of her. Two long years until she could leave her prison for good.
Until then, all she had to her name was a beautiful lavender sphere she wore around her neck on a thin silver chain. Inside the almost clear depths of the jewel was the one and only thing she knew for certain. Her name. Kagome. If one peered closely at the spherical jewel you could see the characters of her name carefully magnified in the center.
As Kagome fingered her necklace with care she watched a thin ribbon of tree sap drip down from a wound in the bark. The rich brown liquid mirrored her unique eye color as it landed in the sparkling snow, discoloring the pure white hue. That's what this place was doing to her, discoloring the pure white of her soul that longed to be free of this miserable place.
"I must have had a family once. Must have." She mumbled the words she always repeated to herself. It was all the hope she had. Once of age she would escape from here and find her family. And then her family would help her regain her memory. And all the good that had happened then would block out her suffering she had endured from this place. She spent many a day imagining what hand of fate had lead her to a life at the orphanage. Kagome had many theories. Perhaps her mother had gotten pregnant too young and gave her up for adoption when she realized she couldn't give her child the life she wanted. At the end of that little day dream Kagome always imagined that her mother, once she had gotten her life straightened out, would search the world over in order to fine her.
Or perhaps she'd gotten separated from her family and managed to get lost, loosing her memory along the way. Still, she expected someone to show up on the front steps of the orphanage and claim her as their own. Out of all her theories there was one common theme: Someone always showed up so save her, to take her away. Kagome was now sixteen and that had yet to happen. Her theories changed over time, evolved and transformed. They kept her hope alive, which kept her going. It was what allowed her to get out of bed and smile. Whatever had really happened, Kagome might never find out. But one day, not to long away, she would leave and never come back. She would either find her family or start a family of her own. Kagome never stopped dreaming.
She released her necklace and stretched her limbs as far as they would go. Then she proceeded in bringing her arms back to her side and her boot-clad feet back to each other. She repeated the rhythm until she was sure she had a decent looking snow angel.
With as much grace as the sixteen-year-old girl could muster she returned to her feet, careful not to destroy the angel she had created.
"Not so bad, if I do say so myself." She said to herself with a bright smile. A loud voice from the orphanage floated down a few yards away and crashed into Kagome's eardrums.
"Hurry up child!"
Kagome wrinkled her nose and stuck her tongue out at the raspy voice, knowing that the lady who owned it couldn't see her. Really! Did that woman have nothing better to do all day except to imagine up things to torment people? Especially the human and youkai children under her care. Her pleasant mood ruined, Kagome went to fetch her hat and basket that had rolled away during her fall. Oh, well, she was up. Her butt was getting cold anyways.
She returned her hat to its proper place on her head, so it could do its rightful job: keep her ears warm. With the hand that wasn't occupied with the basket she adjusted her hat so that her thick dark bangs wouldn't bother her face or fall into her eyes.
Kagome turned slowly, taking in everything around her. There were three worn, snow covered paths. One led back to the orphanage. The second led to the chicken coop and a small frozen lake to the west of it. The third, however, led to a different town all together She let herself fantasize about taking the third path (as she did every time she happened to come this way) while she tightened her beige coat around her. The long coat that nearly reached her knees, while not stunningly stylish, lent her a good amount of warmth and shelter from the wind.
She eyed the third path hungrily. Why shouldn't she take it? All the couples who came to adopt children wanted just that. Children.
Not nearly grown teens like herself. And it wasn't like anyone would miss her. It would probably take a few days for anyone to realize she was gone. She often made a habit of disappearing. She always had. Ever since she was brought to this place a young and tender age.
Police found her bloody, scared, alone, and without any recollection of who she was or where she belonged.
The only thing that held her back was fear, right? Wrong...
A sweet, clear, voice shouted her name joyfully. The owner of the voice was the second and most important reason she stayed.
"Hey Shippou-chan." She greeted the small red head. He skidded to a stop just in front of her. He gazed up at the dark haired girl, his glowing emerald eyes were bright with child-like admiration.
"Hi, Kagome! I thought I would help you with the eggs this morning."
She smiled down gently at the small fox demon. Yes. He was definitely a reason to stay. He was just as lonely as she was and equally as desperate to escape from here. She wondered why such an adorable child had yet to be adopted. Probably because more human family's adopted children.
Most Yokai found having to adopt a pup a wound to their festering pride.
"Aw, thanks Shippou. I appreciate it, but it's cold out here and this is my responsibility. Not yours." She told him softly as she swept some snow off of her almost knee length dark green skirt (she had no choice but to wear skirts and panty hose. She had outgrown all her jeans from last year).
He looked as crestfallen as a puppy who had just gotten slapped with a rolled up newspaper. "Please let me stay with you, Kagome. I would much rather freeze my tail off out here then go back in that house." He shook his thick, tawny tail for clarity.
Kagome watched the kit, clad in his own faded pair of jeans and a thick black coat. He wore no shoes, hat, or gloves. Kagome knew it was because of his demon blood. She found herself often envious of the Yokai race. They were just made of tougher stuff then humans, if Shippou's uncovered limbs were any clue.
She also knew that the orphanage was a bleary place for the young kit. No child as sweet as Shippou deserved to have to grow up in such a bleak area of existence. Kids needed warmth and love. Shippou received neither. Except from Kagome.
It was just horrible luck that Shippou was here in the first place. His parents had been killed by a yokai. All because they had tried to defend the emperor and empress from a demented yokai seeking their demise some years ago.
A loud sniff from Shippou brought Kagome back to earth and away from her thoughts. His bright emerald eyes threatened to release a whole show of water works.
"Please K-kagome! Ca-can't we just leave? I hate it here so m-much." He was so choked by tears that he could hardly squeak his passionate words out.
She immediately dropped her basket as maternal instincts took over. She bent down on her knees and gathered up the small kit. She held him until the sobs that wracked his body stopped. She ran a soothing hand up and down his back. Half to herself, half to the boy, she whispered with a determination she hadn't known she possessed.
"Don't worry, Shippou. I promise I won't let you stay here another moment. We'll both leave today. Right now! I'll take care of you...and I'll get a job and we'll get a small apartment until someone recognizes my talents in the work industry and we'll become millionaires and we won't ever have to come back. And I'll get you all the chocolate you could ever eat!" With a flustered smile she wondered if she was getting a little ahead of herself.
Shippou didn't seem to care.
"You mean it?" He shouted, all traces of his tears gone as happiness and excitement took over.
He jumped up into the air with a victory yell. He danced all around the young woman throwing snow up in to the air with hardly contained joy.
As soon she said the words she wanted to take them back. She couldn't care for Shippou. She was still a kid herself. How would she feed and clothe him and herself? Sure, she had a little money saved. But surely not enough. Kagome couldn't bear to break the kits heart and tell him she had just got caught up in the moment...
She caught sight of her snow angel.
' If I have ever needed a guardian angel...now is the time. Please! Just give me a sign.'
Nothing happened except for the wind paused its attack against all solid beings. She turned ruefully back to the dancing kit.
Then suddenly a loud snap caught both Kagome's and Shippou's attention.
"My necklace!" She cried as she saw her beloved trinket roll down the path. Her hands automatically reached for her neck. Only the chain met her touch. It seemed a uncannily wise, sudden gust of wind controlled the sphere.
Shippou knew how much the necklace meant to Kagome. So without a second thought he raced off after it. "Don't worry Kagome! I'll get it back for you." He promised over his shoulder. It was the least he could do for the one person who cared about him.
"No, Shippou, wait! You can't go by yourself." She leapt to her feet and took off after the kit. Without either of them realizing it, they sped past the third sign that led to the town.
With a jolly whistle a young man in his early twenties walked with a light step down a snow covered side walk. His eyes were the color of the sky and they sparkled like the snow he treaded upon. His shoulder length hair was pulled into a short, dark pony tail at the base of his neck. A particular amount of bang was allowed to fall onto his boyish face.
He walked with his hands crammed into the pockets of his jeans. A section of a newspaper was gripped tightly in his clutches. The wind picked up slightly as he crossed roads and went down a back alley way, as nonchalant as anyone ever cared to be.
The young man soon left the noises of civilization behind him as he walked further into the heart of the alley. It grew notably darker, but if the young male cared he didn't let it show. He just continued to whistle a tune.
He paused at one of the abandoned buildings. There were many of them littered on this side of town. But this building seemed to catch his interest. It was huge, crumbling, but regal despite its lack of care.
A fire escape latter dangled just above him. He pulled on it lightly three times and it obediently came down and landed with a sharp clang in front of him. He removed his hands from his pockets but kept the newspaper safely inside its confinements. His tall, lanky figure scaled the steps without problem.
He stomped on the metal platform three times and the ladder went back to it's proper place. He smiled to himself as he opened a window easily. He stepped through and walked with ease down the dark halls of the rather large building. Although dusty and old, the house (or mansion, rather) still held remnants of beauty from its prime.
The handsome young man stopped only when he came to a wooden door. He could see light shine through the cracks in the door. The unmistakable sounds of human voices (And perhaps the smell of food) also met his senses.
He opened the door and stepped into a fairly large room. The carpet was a dark red and the wall paper was a darker hue but decorated lavishly in gold print.
There was a Television set and two couches that decorated the room. On one couch a lean young man of about eighteen or so years glanced up sharply at the dark haired boy. His molten gold eyes narrowed onto the other's blue ones.
He then returned to his bowl of ramen.
"You look awfully happy, Miroku." He commented vaguely. His silver hair shone from the light in the fire place as his long, unruly bangs covered his eyes.
Miroku moved to sit on the couch with the silver haired boy.
"He's right. You do look unusually chipper this morning." A girl called from the other couch. Her long, arrow straight hair was pulled up into a high pony tail. It cascaded down her back like a chocolate waterfall.
"You'll see why soon enough, my dearest Sango." He winked at her and shot a sexy grin.
She frowned at him and looked back to the book she had been reading.
The silver haired young man glanced back up at Miroku. In answer he pulled the newspaper from his pocket.
"I'm sure you'll find it most interesting, Inuyasha."
Inuyasha only reached for the paper. He studied the front page for a while. A mischievous smirk slowly sneaked its way onto his handsome face. The two silver, triangular dog ears that were placed high up on his head perked up visibly.
Sango noticed his mannerisms and left the comfortable nest she had made on her couch so she could stand behind Inuyasha.
Inuyasha's smirk allowed a small pointed fang to slip out onto his bottom lip. "Perfect." He whispered, seemingly bewitched by the inky letters printed on the paper.
"Let me see this." Sango commanded as she took the paper from the silver haired dog yokai. She cleared her voice and read the article.
"The crowned empress of Japan, the only one of the great Higurashi linage supposedly left, has brought to all of Japans attention that whomever finds her lost daughter will get a staggering reward of...Holy crap! That's a lot of yen...Oh my! The Shikon too?
"Although it's apparent to some that the only Higurashi that survived the attack from one of hells fiercest demons was Higurashi Akiko-sama herself. It seems that hope still lingers in many a heart that her youngest daughter, Kagome Higurashi, survived the attack and will be able to continue the Higurashi linage. Many still can't believe that the empress herself survived the yokai, Naraku. It seems like asking for the princess is just too much.
"But the empresses most trusted revisers say that Higurashi-sama honestly believes that her daughter is still alive. But if so why hasn't the young Higurashi returned herself? It seems no one knows the answer, but Higurashi-sama seems willing to pay a high price for it. Since many hoaxes are to be expected High Priestess Kaede will have an interview with all who believe they have found young Higurashi. She does this in hopes of trying to find the legitimate Higurashi sooner..." Sango trailed off, looking slightly stunned. Then the trio locked eyes with each other and broke into unmasked smiles.
"This is too perfect!" Sango shouted as she re-read the paper. "This is the solution to our problems."
"All we need to do is find a brainless wench that looks like she's of Higurashi blood and trick her and everyone else into thinking she's legit." Inuyasha smirked and drained the last of his ramen.
Miroku leaned back and crossed his arms behind his head. "I have had harder times brushing my teeth in the morning. Although, Inuyasha, it may be more difficult then you assume. You just can't grab a look-a-like and barge into the palace with your Tetsusaiga. We'll have to make this girl really believe she's the lost Higurashi child. Not to mention we'll have to teach her everything about being royalty. And she'll have to be the right age...and gullible enough to believe everything we tell her."
"You just repeated everything I said, only made it sound harder then it is." Inuyasha scoffed at the dark haired boy.
"Well, he's right." Sango told Inuyasha. Placing her hands on her slim hips she grinned.
"And tomorrow start stage one of our plan."
"Feh!" Inuyasha sniffed. But he looked pleased. The reward money would help Sango and Miroku...but the other reward would help him. A way for him to become full demon at last.
With their minds at rest they relaxed inside the building that gave them na advantage at the Higurashi competition. None of them expected the job to be an easy one...but it was going to be easier on them then they had ever imagined...
Kagome held a sleeping Shippou tight to her as they walked down a lightly crowded street. Her adrenalin was pounding inside of her as she plodded down unfamiliar land. It was exhilarating to be on her own...but she had to do her best to take care of Shippou.
She shouldn't have left with out supplies. She had been kicking her self mentally for hours. The young woman kept an eye out for a potential job and a decent place to sleep. Not much luck on either. It was growing increasingly dark and many shops and inns were closed.
As the young woman gazed down into the sweet innocent face of the kit, she knew that she had done the right thing by leaving. And there was no turning back now. The sun was sinking into the western sky and taking all its heat with it.
She stopped in front of a news paper stand to put Shippou under the protection of her coat. The head liner caught her attention. Particularly the reward money.
"Too bad I'm not the missing girl, huh? That would solve all of our problems." She chuckled down at the sleeping kit, whom answered her with adorable snores.
"Yes. I did good leaving with you. Everything happens for a reason after all, Shippou-chan." The kit curled up to her closely as if he made to absorb all of her body heat.
"But shelter first, right? Then we'll go get some food in the morning. I have enough for that at least."
She resumed her pace and watched all the colorful people flood in and out of the streets. Both Human and Yokai together. They weren't on the most friendly terms with each other but there was no longer blood lust between the two races.
"Isn't that how the emperor and his kids died?" She thought out loud. "I guess some yokai didn't want to be placed below humans."
Kagome watched the luminous moon brighten up the fading day. If you could still call it day. It shone in her hair and was soothing to her eyes. Her feet grew skittishly light on the ground as her own excitement touched her.
Without questioning it she crossed roads. No real reason, just following her feet. She scuffed snow up with the toe of her boots as she walked on. Until the hair on the nape of her neck stood up and she heard other steps beside her own.
She looked over her shoulder and saw a group of shady looking guys watching her back. Gangsters? Theives? Maybe just some guys walking in the same direction as she was? Not likely.
"Homigod." She whispered between her teeth, praying she was imagining things. No luck. She wasn't loony. Five men were still watching her with lustful faces. She could see the heat in their eyes as they approached.
She braced herself and did the only reasonable thing. Threaten them.
"Listen up you greasy bunch of jerks. I don't have anything for you to steal so you can save yourself the wasted energy of harassing me." She fired at them, her luminous brown eyes flared with some inner fire.
Out of the five two were Yokai. She could tell by their markings and clan braids. If the stories Shippou were so fond of were true, these Yokai belonged to the panther clan.
"Alright! Last warning. I know Karate, Kung-Fu, Tai-kwon-do...and...several other intimidating forms of martial arts."
She was a horrible liar.
One of the panther Yokai growled seductively. "Oh, but I do believe you do have something for us to steal."
The human standing beside him grinned wickedly. "I'll have to agree with you on that one."
"Please just leave us alone." Kagome whispered, frightened.
The other demon took a step closer to the now scared girl. Instinctively a hand flew out to protect herself, but her hand did more then that. A lavender tinted light left her palm and knocked the two yokai to their backs. The humans however just tripped over themselves and then onto their fallen comrades.
She took the opportunity to run as fast and as hard as she could. Her feet took her down an alley way. She ran until her lungs felt they were about collapse, she ran until she wanted to faint. She ran until her muscles vexed her angrily. She ran until she hit a slightly elevated ladder.
The metal contraption fell and landed just in front of her face.
"That...was a little to close for comfort." She panted, struggling to stand. Shippou still slept peacefully in her arms. He was a very, very heavy sleeper.
She studied the ladder and where it led. An old home, grand it it's size. It looked antique and un-lived in. "Perfect." She whispered. She thanked any heavenly being that was watching her. Climbing the ladder to the best of her abilities (since she had to hold Shippou with one hand) she made it on to the fire escape.
To her delight the window was unlocked. And even more to her delight, it was warm inside the still fairly beautiful building.
"Wow..." She sighed looking amazed at the architectural work this place housed. And it all seemed very, very, familiar.
She explored down the hallways, looking for a room or bed to sleep in. She only succeeded in making her way into the grand hall. The gigantic portrait displayed a lovely family dressed in expensive clothes. The one person in the painting looked a lot like her, just younger. It was a picture of a little girl with long black stressed that curled at the ends.
And with eyes that were the same color of sap leaking from a wound in a tree. She was too tired to stand much less study an old picture. She walked to the wall and let her backside slide against the smooth marble. Hugging Shippou tight to her she let all slip away from her as she stared at the hand that had produced the light that had saved her from danger.
"How very odd..." she muttered closing her eyes.
Inuyasha snapped to attention, his right hand immediately went to the Tetsusaiga. With his thumb nail he expertly pushed the sword out of its sheath a few centimeters. He had heard someone come in, and not quietly about it.
Who ever it was they could only mean trouble. He left the room and a snoozing Miroku and Sango (he didn't want to be around when the temperamental female woke up. She would be fairly peeved when she saw how Miroku had fallen asleep).
He caught the scent of a demon… and also a human. So, someone else had the idea to come to this place? Well, if they wanted to keep it they would have to kill him first. And he was not easy to kill. His nose told him the grand hall. Sliding his beloved sword out of the sheath fully, he approached the grand hall with the grace of a cat. His amber orbs reflected the dim lighting and his teeth gleamed when he smirked.
What he found wasn't exactly a threat...as of yet.
A/N: Okay, so there's the new and improved first chapter. Thanks so much for reading. It would mean the world to get a few reviews - let me know what you think. Responses are always appreciated and important to the writing process!
Disclaimer: I disclaim everything…blah, blah, blah Rumiko Takahashi, blah, blah, Anastasia, blah. I own nothing! Except for an ornery cat who likes to break things and walk across my keyboard. Anyone want a cat?