Title: Illusions and Deceptions

Author: Agni

Disclaimer: I do not own Inuyasha.

Warnings: AU, OOC (especially in the case of Inuyasha but I will mostly keep the character intact. It will be more apparent in the later chapters). This is a rewrite and I should warn my readers that it is quite different from the original version. Not quite as rushed.

Pairings: Sesshoumaru/Inuyasha, Miroku/Sango, Kagome/Hojo.

AN: Okay, the chapters will vary in length for a while. This first chapter is very long and has significant alterations. Since I have posted this separately, I will be removing the older version from my profile within a day or so. Please bear with me. Reviews, comments and suggestion are welcome.


Chapter one: The Cunning mother


The Castle of the Daiyoukai of the West rarely saw its current master. Sesshoumaru was not someone who would stay at one place for long. The ancient castle was well maintained by the servants that were bound to the royal Inu-Youkai clan. The day-to-day workings of the castle did not require the Daiyoukai's attention.

However, there were times when Sesshoumaru would return to his ancestral home. He would come to ensure that everything was in order, he would deal with any problems that occurred in his absence and sometimes, he would come simply to rest.

'One's childhood dwelling is always a place of comfort, it seems.' The wraith-like demon thought to himself as he walked towards the Master-suite. The servants had done an exemplary job of keeping the castle in prime condition. His initial inspection of his home had not been disappointing, nor had the meeting with his ministers irked him, as it would have under normal circumstances.

He felt oddly placid.

Just as he entered the most secured wing of the castle, he paused, his eyes narrowing. He tilted his head to the side, feeling a slight tickle of energy from a room that had not been used for nearly two-hundred years.

'Lady Izayoi's chambers.'

Abruptly, the sense of calm left him and his lips curled slightly in distaste. Placing his hand of the shoji screen, he slid the door open, stepping into the one room of the castle Sesshoumaru had never set foot in.

The room was similar to his mother's chambers but not as extravagant. Sesshoumaru knew that it was not because his mother had been the principle wife, but because Lady Izayoi, despite being a princess, had been a very mature and grounded woman. She was not the kind of woman who indulged in opulence. He glanced at the corner to see the futon she slept in still neatly folded away in one corner.

'This would have been otouto's chambers as well, had he had not refused my offer to stay in the palace.' Sesshoumaru thought with a slight frown. Even as a child, Inuyasha had been stubborn. Refusing his brother's offer for shelter despite how generous it was. Sesshoumaru had been irritated by the blunt refusal, enraged by the blatant arrogance of the pup.

He had never offered shelter again.

Sesshoumaru abandoned his thoughts and scanned the room for that faint energy that he had detected earlier. His gaze landed on a desk at the corner of the room and he narrowed his eyes. The energy was familiar. It had a sense of coldness to it, the icy burn of a priestess's power.

He reached forward and opened the desk, finding a scroll glowing with spiritual power in it.

He paused, puzzled. The power was familiar. It carried the same taste as Izayoi's spiritual energy.

Sesshoumaru hesitated only briefly before unfurling the scroll with a faint scowl. Despite his feelings against Izayoi, he knew her to be a very smart and shrewd person. He had seen a ruthless intelligence in her that enabled her to stand toe-to-toe against his mother. Underneath that delicate façade was a very sharp, political mind, the likes of which Sesshoumaru had never seen in a woman.

If the scroll had attracted his attention, then Sesshoumaru supposed it was Izayoi's intention.

"My dearest daughter, Inuyasha…"

"Perhaps not." He corrected himself and then frowned. 'Daughter?'

"You must be surprised to find this letter. I have placed a spell on it so that it appears in your chambers exactly a week before you step into woman-hood. You must be wondering why such a step was necessary… why did I write a letter to you that you weren't meant to receive for another hundred and eighty years…

You must have felt so lost without my guidance but how can I, a mere mortal, hope to compete with the power your father's blood grants you. I imagine you to be very beautiful. Just as your father and I knew you would be. I imagine that had it not been for that anklet, your nii-san would have had to chase away several suitors before you even ventured into your first heat."

Sesshoumaru paused, leaning against a wall to collect himself. The letter did not make any sense. Inuyasha was a woman? A female hanyou? Lady Izayoi clearly assumed that he knew and he had taken up the responsibility of caring and protecting his sister.

He frowned and continued reading.

"That anklet that you wear on your left leg to conceal your true identity has its limits Inuyasha. This letter is a warning. I wish could have been there to tell you this personally however, you were too young for this knowledge. You are an innocent young child when I write this letter, unaware of your status, of your allure and beauty.

As a child of your father, you have inherited his demon blood. His power and his grace are obvious in your every action, even at such a young age. From me, you have inherited powers that stand in contrast to your father's gifts. My powers are spiritual not demonic and in your body, both our legacies exist in perfect harmony.

Inuyasha, you do not realize how rare and precious you are. Children born to you will forever be immune to the spiritual attacks of humans. There are many demons who would covet such a prize and hence the anklet. It suppresses both your spiritual and demon powers to some extent and presents to the world the illusion that you are male. Now you know why I asked you to wear the anklet at all times. However, all your powers will explode into full maturity the moment you slip into your first heat. My powers are not as strong as yours Inuyasha and my spell on the anklet will be nullified once you mature.

You will have much to deal with during your first heat, the surge of power and the changes that your body will be going through will leave you vulnerable for a while. You need to be careful and you need to be protected.

Do not be frightened little one. I know this is a daunting time for you. I know that you are scared of revealing yourself to the world, but honey you have no other choice. You are the princess of western lands. I know that I am not helping you curb your fear, but I need you to understand. You cannot, you will not mate anyone without Sesshoumaru's permission. There are people out there who would deceive you, lure you into a false sense of security and during these times, your nii-san is your best bet for protection.

I hope you have not hidden your true identity from him. I know that you are wary of him. I know that you dislike the fact that he has shown me little care or respect and not acknowledged you. However, I know my stepson to be a very honorable man. He will not ignore his responsibilities. You need to trust him, little one. He is not all that he seems. You will grow to understand him and love him if you give him a chance.

However, if you are still wary of him… even after all those years of living with him, I suggest you travel south. At the southern most part of the Neko territory, I have an old friend. She is a Neko youkai of great power and one of your father's most trusted accomplices, her name is Kaoru. Stay with her for a few years and learn all you can, gain the wisdom you need.

Even though I am offering this option to you, I still believe that you are safer with Sesshoumaru. I will not force you to follow my wish, my sweet child. You are old enough to make your own decisions; it is just a mother's wish to see her two children have a good, warm relationship.

May fortune smile upon you, my beautiful child and may you find the happiness that you deserve. Remember that you have the strength of your father running through your veins and draw courage from it.

I love you and will always love you.

Your mother,


Sesshoumaru sat down on the floor, his narrowed eyes still focused on the startling letter. He had never suspected that Inuyasha was capable of keeping such a secret from him and everyone else. He would not put it past Izayoi to come up with such a cunning plan, however, the thought of Inuyasha being a female was unbelievable. No one would have suspected, regardless of the hanyou's feminine name that he was a girl.

Inuyasha had always been somewhat of a puzzle to Sesshoumaru. His little bro- no sister was very adept in hiding what he- she felt. She was very adept in blending in, in adjusting to various situations. Inuyasha, for all her impure and unworthy blood, was an immensely worthy opponent.

To know that that strength, that skill and power belonged to a woman was even more astonishing.

Sesshoumaru never underestimated women. He couldn't afford to. His mother was someone who could stand toe-to-toe with his father and Izayoi had not been anyone to scoff at either. She, with a mere wave of her hand, could bring some of the most powerful demons to their knees.

If Inuyasha had Izayoi's power and his father's blood running through her veins…

It was hardly a surprise that Izayoi took such a step. However, he had a feeling that there was something more to it than Izayoi mentioned. The explanation was just too brief for his comfort.

The Daiyoukai stood, his brow furrowed when he realized just how much of a danger Inuyasha was currently facing. Naraku would simply love to have his hands on such a powerful prize. Moreover, she had surrounded herself with humans who were neither powerful enough to protect her nor themselves.

They were her weaknesses.

He scowled faintly as he recalled his sister's companions. A wolf in particular.

'This cannot be allowed to continue.' He thought as he moved out of the room, feeling oddly possessive. He tucked the scroll safely in his haori and headed towards the exit of his home. He needed to bring his sister home.


"Midori." He called out, his voice a low growl that resonated throughout the castle. It was just a few moments before a woman appeared before him, kneeling submissively and waiting for orders in silence. Sesshoumaru observed her for a moment before nodding. "Prepare the Mistress Suite."

The woman gasped, "The Mistress Suite?" She whispered in surprise and Sesshoumaru could not blame her even if he felt his eyes narrow in irritation. The suite was reserved for the woman who would have been Sesshoumaru's mate. It was one of the most secure chambers in the castle and the only way to reach it was to pass through Sesshoumaru's own chambers.

However, considering the circumstances, Sesshoumaru knew that it was the best option for Inuyasha. She needed absolute protection and there were demons in the castle that lacked the control that was needed to be around a strong woman during her heat.

Sesshoumaru would not let anyone compromise Inuyasha.

"Yes. The Mistress suite. I shall be returning soon with a guest." He looked at the servant sharply, "I will count on your discretion. You will also be conducting interviews to select a skilled seamstress for my sister who shall be occupying that chamber and hand-maidens as well. You will present your choices to me for my approval when I return."

"Yes, my lord." She answered softly.

Sesshoumaru narrowed his eyes, "No one must know of this until I return. I trust you will be able to handle that?"

"Yes, my lord."

"Good." He stated shortly before walking out of his home, leaving behind a stumped servant.

'Convincing her… that might pose a problem.' Sesshoumaru thought as he rose into the air, heading in the direction where he could sense Inuyasha's presence.


Inuyasha shuddered in revulsion when she felt the sweat and grime covering her body. How long had it been since she had bathed? She didn't like the thought of being unclean; however, they didn't have time to settle down. Naraku had been attacking almost daily, showing rare signs of desperation. Even though they were just puppets, her group couldn't let their guards down.

Finally, they had some respite from that devious fiend. She intended on utilizing it. Her whole body was sore from fighting and she was sporting wounds that were not healing properly.

Her body wouldn't be able to take this constant battering for long. They needed to find some way to recover. She may have been a half-demon but that did not mean that she was invulnerable.

Her entire pack was tense. Everyone seemed tired, nervous and irritated. The constant fighting, the uncertainty and the lack of rest were taking its toll on everyone. These days, it seemed as though she was the only one with patience. Inuyasha knew that her temper had cooled because everyone else was so uneasy. Someone had to be patient and take care of the pack.

Usually, Inuyasha had room to be impatient and demanding. She was the force that pushed them forward when the humans got too relaxed or forgot their predicament. Kagome was more likely to do so than Sango and Miroku but even they sometimes tended to lose focus as well.

These days, it had become Inuyasha's responsibility to wade through the irrational tempers of her pack-mates and direct them in the proper direction.

It was taxing.

Despite all appearances, Inuyasha was a very aloof person and someone who tended to speak very little and do a whole lot more. Taking care of a stressed out pack was not her cup of tea and it was grating on her nerves.

She needed a break from her own pack.

Inuyasha sighed in relief when she spotted the hot spring she had caught the scent of earlier. Kagome and Sango were tending to Miroku and Shippou's wounds. She had told them that she needed some time alone and was heading towards the hot spring for a well-deserved bath. They looked ready to protest considering the fact that Naraku was still very likely to attack but Inuyasha feared that she would attack someone if she didn't manage to catch a break.

Standing by the edge of the onsen, Inuyasha spread her senses to the maximum. When she wasn't able to sense anybody nearby, she smirked. She finally had sometime to remove her anklet and bathe herself properly.


Sesshoumaru watched as Inuyasha, in her male form bent down and pulled her hakama up, revealing a thick, silver colored band surrounding her ankle. It was simple and inconspicuous; no one would have thought that it contained a spell.

The worn silver band glinted in the sun as Sesshoumaru narrowed his eyes on it. It looked old and battered like some sort of cheap jewelry. For a person who wore priceless fire-rat clothes and wielded a sword that sprouted diamonds, that silver anklet looked out of place.

Sesshoumaru watched silently as with a small snap, Inuyasha removed the anklet. His eyes narrowed once again when the illusion shimmered for a moment and dispelled. The Daiyoukai arched a brow in amusement when those voluminous robes hung limply from her slender body, obviously too big for her. Although she was the same height as her male form was, her body was slender and feminine.

Sesshoumaru had not expected Inuyasha to look much different from the illusion displayed by Izayoi's spell, but he was surprised. Her beauty did not surprise him, the Royal Inu-youkai were famous for it and Inuyasha was no exception. There were many keen differences between Inuyasha's male disguise and her true from that intrigued Sesshoumaru.

With keen eyes, he watched as Inuyasha shed her haori and juban revealing her tightly bound chest. The lavender stripes on her delicate looking wrists reminded him of the fact that Lady Izayoi's spell suppressed a portion of Inuyasha's true powers.

When the woman moved to remove the bandages around her chest, Sesshoumaru turned his head away. His honor did not permit him to see any further.

As he leaned against the tree he was standing behind, he pondered over the situation. Sesshoumaru could not begrudge Izayoi for her actions but he was irritated by Inuyasha's own recklessness. Her feelings for him did not warrant her behavior. She was risking her own safety and honor not seeking the protection of their ancestral home.

Had he had known that Inuyasha was a female and that she possessed such particular powers, he would have never let his sister out of his sight.

He would have to applaud Izayoi's genius. To be able to come up with such a powerful spell that enabled Inuyasha to hide her identity for almost 200 hundred years was a show of brilliant skills.

He settled himself under the tree, hidden from Inuyasha's senses. His ears were attuned to her every movement as he sat there pondering over the course of his actions. Inuyasha needed to read her mother's letter. It would be dangerous to withhold information as important as that. However, he was uncertain over her response.

His thoughts were interrupted when Inuyasha started a particularly feminine act. She started to sing while bathing. The Daiyoukai tilted his head to the side, his lips curling in amusement as his ears twitched at the soft, tickling words. His baby sister was obviously not a fantastic singer, but hearing her sing was not unpleasant. In fact, Sesshoumaru found it very soothing. Her voice was soft and somewhat husky. When she sang, her voice was nearly breathless.

Sesshoumaru smirked as he leaned back against the tree, letting that soft voice surround him. Every time she struck an odd note, he felt his lips twitch. He turned his head a little and caught sight of her. Her decency was not harmed as she was submerged in the water up to her collarbone.

He took his time to observe her features. Without the spell, she resembled their father flawlessly. Her hair formed wavy bangs over her forehead, parting in the middle to reveal a strange diamond shaped mark. It was obvious that she paid attention to herself. He was looking at a princess not a street ruffian that Inuyasha always appeared to be in her false form.

Her features were delicate and aristocratic but nothing about her spoke of vulnerability. Inuyasha carried herself with the ease and the grace of a seasoned warrior. Power seemed to hum underneath her skin and her eyes were just as sharp and piercing as Sesshoumaru's.

The Daiyoukai knew that she was going to be a handful to handle.

Sesshoumaru noted how her skin gleamed like silvery moonlight, pale even by his own standards. There was not a hint of tan on her features, which made Sesshoumaru curious. Izayoi had seen to it that her appearance as a male was different from that as a female. That was a very smart move. While, the male was disheveled, skinny but powerful, the female seemed slender, elegant and subtle.

The Daiyoukai narrowed his eyes as Inuyasha let out a tired sigh and observed her wounds. "Poison." She whispered to herself as she winced, pouring hot water over her wounds. "Not as potent as Naraku would have liked, fortunately. I will survive." Inuyasha leaned back and looked at the sky. "I wish Naraku would just up and die already."

Sesshoumaru narrowed his eyes. Inuyasha did have some mild immunity to poison. However, it was best if such wounds were not allowed to fester. The ningen healer that Inuyasha so often consulted would hardly suffice. However, it did make the situation more difficult for Sesshoumaru. An injured Inuyasha was a defensive one. He would have a difficult time convincing her to listen to him much less to accompany him to their ancestral home.

However, Izayoi's faith in him, despite his less than exemplary behavior towards her, had affected his sense of honor. She knew just how vulnerable Inuyasha's position was. She knew that Sesshoumaru, too, was an unmated demon and yet she considered him her son and trusted him with something so delicate.

However, her insistence on Inuyasha relying on Sesshoumaru was somewhat more impassioned than what one would expect.

It was almost as though she…

Sesshoumaru narrowed his eyes as the thought registered. It made sense. In accordance to youkai customs, officially, Sesshoumaru and Inuyasha were not considered siblings. In fact, even when it came to inheritance, Inuyasha was set to inherit a beautiful island off the western coast. It was a part of the Western lands but it required separate attention that the Lord of the West could not appropriately provide.

Should Inuyasha mate to anyone but Sesshoumaru that land would pass on to Inuyasha's children, hence out of the control of the Western Lands.

Sesshoumaru straightened when he recognized several other similar problems that Izayoi would have known in an instant with her highly intuitive and political mind.

As long as Sesshoumaru remained without a mate, Inuyasha was his heir. It was more likely that she would find a mate before him and her children, by youkai law, would become the primary heirs of the West. For that sole reason, many would pursue Inuyasha. Moreover, if the knowledge of her unique powers slipped past Sesshoumaru's protection, he was certain the number of her suitors would increase dramatically.

Her being a hanyou would hardly matter.

Sesshoumaru's greatest fear was the likelihood that if someone did manage to ensnare Inuyasha's affections, he would not give her the honorable position of the primary wife. Inuyasha had pride and honor. She was a warrior and skilled with her sword. It would be the highest form of insult for her to be a secondary mate. It would be an insult if she wasn't the only mate of her husband.

Sesshoumaru frowned.

She was in even greater danger than he had first realized.

He was not going to let Inuyasha travel south. He knew she would. She would rather sever her own limb than ask him for assistance. However, for the first time in many years, he felt the responsibility to protect someone. He did not trust Inuyasha to be out of his sight by herself. Sesshoumaru did not want to take any risks.

He turned his head away as she made a move to stand. He listened as she got out of the water and dried herself. However, his study of her was interrupted when the scent of blood hit his senses. Wolf blood?

"Kouga…" Inuyasha hissed as she hurriedly put on her clothes and snapped the anklet back in its place. "What the hell is that damned wolf up to now?"

Sesshoumaru stood and followed Inuyasha discreetly as the hanyou swiftly moved through the forest, expertly dodging all the trees then leaping into the air. Inuyasha was extremely fast when she was moving through the canopy of trees, jumping from one tree to another.

Inuyasha burst into the field and took the scene in a single glance, not bothering to acknowledge Sesshoumaru who appeared just moments later. Calmly, she surveyed the clearing for causalities as she drew her sword. Kouga had managed to get hurt protecting Kagome from a rather large demon. No one else had even a scratch on them.

"Where the hell were you mutt?" Kouga yelled at Inuyasha.

"Shut it, stupid wolf." Inuyasha hissed as she settled into a defensive position before Kagome, "Are you alright Kagome?"

The miko nodded and let go of Inuyasha's sleeve as the hanyou jumped in the air to attack the large demon. The creature was a three-headed snake that seemed to attack rather slyly. He managed to evade Inuyasha's attacks as well as Sango Hiraikotsu. Inuyasha cursed as she kicked one of the demon's head and flipped and kicked another one. That move disorientated the snake for a short while and she moved to use Kaze no Kizu to bring the demon down.

Just as she arched her body to bring Tetsusaiga down, the third head of the snake sneaked behind her and sank its fangs into her leg. She cursed hotly when she felt the burn of poison enter her limb. She summoned every bit her quickly fading energy to cut of one of the heads of the snake before her vision stared to blur.

"Inuyasha!" Kagome called out desperately as the snake easily evaded Sango's Hiraikotsu. The demon tossed Inuyasha into the air with every intention of killing her.

He did not get that far. A bright energy whip sliced off the remaining heads as Sesshoumaru jumped after the hanyou to catch her in mid fall. He cradled the limp form of Inuyasha to his chest and landed soundlessly on his feet just as the large heads fell in front of him. He quickly noticed Inuyasha's blood was staining his side, yet it did not matter. What caught his attention was Inuyasha's feminine body pressed against his.

He briefly wondered about her luck as he saw her anklet glinting on snake's teeth.

"Ah… Sesshoumaru-sama…" A tentative male voice interrupted his musings and Sesshoumaru subtly shifted the woman in his arm so that her long silver hair covered her entire upper body. He looked at the monk that traveled with his sister, a brow arched in question. "… we thank you for saving Inuyasha…" he reached forward hesitantly, "I think he requires the attentions of a healer… if you please hand him over to-"

The Daiyoukai's arm tightened around his sister almost protectively and he narrowed his eyes in a clear warning.

The monk was not stupid. He took a careful step back, his posture indicating his compliance. "I shall accompany you." He intoned, his eyes traveling over everyone in his sister's pack before landed briefly on the Wolf Prince.

They looked hesitant but Sesshoumaru knew that without Inuyasha's protection, they would not dare move against him. They exchanged meaningful glances, wary of him, as they should be. Inuyasha was in his possession. They could do nary a thing.

The wolf demon was bold enough to stand in front of him, peering at the buddle in his grasp inquisitively. Sesshoumaru knew that even with his scent protectively cloaking hers; the wolf prince would sense that there was something amiss. She did certainly smell alluring. It was a prelude to just how powerful her heat scent would be. She already smelled as tempting as a normal Inu-youkai female would when she was in heat and it was a week before hers was set to start.

Sure enough, the wolf prince's instincts took over and he was gazing at her lustfully. Sesshoumaru would see his eyes glowing and his fangs elongating. When the wolf licked his lips, it was such an indecent expression that the Daiyoukai could feel his ire rising. He stared at the other youkai, daring him to move.

At that moment, had the wolf dared to take a step towards Inuyasha, he would have died before anyone could blink.

Fortunately, the prince seemed to gain control of his instincts before anything untoward happened. There was a hint of apprehension in his eyes when he glanced at Sesshoumaru before it was replaced by confusion as he looked down at Inuyasha once again.

Sesshoumaru did not possess any desire to explain the circumstances to Inuyasha's friends. He would speak with Inuyasha after she regained consciousness before letting her deal with her companions. Out of the corner of his eye, a small glint reminded him of the existence of the silver anklet.

No doubt, Inuyasha would wish to have it back in her possession.

"Wolf prince Kouga." He called out, his voice impassive and yet commanding. He gestured towards the severed heads, "The anklet caught on that demon's teeth, it belongs to Inuyasha." Even though he didn't say it outright, his command was clear. The wolf narrowed his eyes indignantly for a moment before quickly mastering himself and picking the anklet up, examining it curiously.

"This old, beat up thing?" Kouga asked in surprise, "Why the hell does he wear this?"

Miroku peered at it with a frown, "I have seen it on him several times. He never removes it. By the manner in which he treasured it, I was led to believe that it was precious to him. It was given to him by his beloved mother perhaps?"

Sesshoumaru inclined his head but did not say anything as he rose into the air, quickly heading towards the human village that Inuyasha frequently resided in. Her companions were quick to follow; the wolf was carrying the miko while the monk, the slayer and the kitsune kit used the two-tailed demon cat as a means of transport.

The Daiyoukai would have preferred to take Inuyasha to their ancestral home but the castle was far and his sister was in no condition to travel without at least something to ensure that her wounds did not fester and gain infection. The presence of poison in her body would delay her natural healing ability. Once again, Sesshoumaru chose not the take a risk.

It wasn't long before he landed in front of the old miko's hut. She must have sensed his arrival for she was standing at the entrance of her hut, looking at them calmly. Her single eye lingered on Inuyasha before rising to meet Sesshoumaru's impassive gaze. "If you will, my lord, please place Inuyasha-san on the mat so I may attend to the wounds."

The demon gazed at her before stepping into the humble human dwelling. For a moment, he felt unsettled, the Princess of the West living in such an open, unprotected place unacceptable to him.

It was a curious feeling. With Inuyasha, Sesshoumaru always felt a hint of protectiveness. It was a part of his instincts and when the Daiyoukai sought to end the hanyou's life, that same protectiveness held him back. Inuyasha was his younger sibling, a part of his clan and therefore his to protect.

Somehow, Izayoi's spell had had an adverse effect on Sesshoumaru's instincts. By suppressing Inuyasha's natural power, aura and scent, she had effectively nearly severed his connection with his sibling. The small feeling of protectiveness barely overcame the spell's influence. However, ever since the spell was lifted, the Daiyoukai was subjected to a surge of long suppressed instincts that now demanded that he take Inuyasha away from the pitiful village and back to the castle, where she belonged.

Of course, there was also the fact that Inuyasha was now a female. Inu-youkai treated their women with almost unheard of tenderness and respect. They protected the females under their care viciously and to know that Inuyasha had been away from his protection for all her life was more than unsettling, it was terrifying.

Carefully, he placed Inuyasha on the mat, his eyes going to her bleeding leg with a frown. She would definitely survive such wounds but they would weaken her to a great extent until she was fully healed.

"Oh my…" the old miko whispered, "These are, most assuredly, quite grievous wounds, my lord."

Sesshoumaru nodded in acknowledgment, "Heal what you can." He commanded softly, "I shall take her to the castle as soon as you deem it fit for her to travel."

The old miko inclined her head, not acknowledging his slight reference to Inuyasha's true gender. "I will try my best."

His ears twitched a little as Inuyasha's companions finally arrived. He stayed in the shadows, watching as they stumbled gracelessly towards their leader.

"What the hell!" Kouga exclaimed as his suspicions were confirmed. There was no missing the change in Inuyasha's appearance. Sesshoumaru found himself looking those the wolf's sharp blue eyes and arched a brow. If the lowlife expected him to explain then he had another thing coming.

"Dear lord… what had happened? What sort of magic is this?" Miroku questioned, shocked at seeing his long time friend changed. "Is this truly Inuyasha?" the monk asked to himself, reaching forward to touch the woman to see if it was an illusion. Kouga reacted before Sesshoumaru did. His hand reaching out to seize hold of the monk's arm before it got anywhere near Inuyasha.

"Are you a fool?" Kouga hissed, "Can you not see how diligently her brother watches us? He would slay us where we stand if we touch her!"

Sango drew her hand back as well but Kouga shook his head and caught hold of Shippou and Miroku, "Let the women deal with Inuyasha's injuries." He looked at Sesshoumaru cautiously, "They would need some privacy, Lord Sesshoumaru…" he stated uncertainly.

The Daiyoukai looked at the two shocked young women who were kneeling by Inuyasha's unconscious form, his eyes narrowed. "If she regains consciousness, do not question her. I must speak to her. Until then, you will hold your tongues." The younger woman opened her mouth, possibly to protest or ask questions but Sesshoumaru silenced her with a sharp stare. "Do as I say or your questions will remain unanswered."

The warning seemed to stall their curiosity for the moment. Sesshoumaru glanced at Inuyasha before gracefully walking out of the door.


The air was tense and stifling for Sesshoumaru. The curiosity of Inuyasha's companions was grating on his patience. It did not help that Inuyasha had developed a fever over night that had yet to break. It had forced Sesshoumaru to stay in the ningen village, much to his displeasure. He had chosen to separate himself from the stench of the humans of the village by settling down on one of the expansive branches of Goshinboku.

Inuyasha's scent overpowered every other scent in that particular part of the forest. Moreover, the tree itself was a spiritual entity, brimming with unknown powers that tickled Sesshoumaru's curiosity awake.

It was at dawn, that Inuyasha showed her first signs of waking. Her companions had surrendered to exhaustion. They were unaware that her fever had broken. It was convenient for Sesshoumaru since he did not plan on having his conversation with Inuyasha in their presence.

He stepped into the hut, only glancing at the old miko who had sensed his arrival immediately. She bowed her head a little and whispered under her breath, too low for a human to hear but audible to the youkai's superior senses. "I have bathed her and dressed her in clean clothes, my lord. Her wounds have stopped bleeding and her fever seems to have receded for the time being." Sesshoumaru inclined his head in acknowledgement, his eyes keen on Inuyasha. The hanyou's brows were furrowed and her eyelids were fluttering. "She should wake soon."

Sesshoumaru glanced about the room and his eyes landed on a thick quilt. It smelled as though it was freshly washed so Sesshoumaru picked it up before kneeling in front of Inuyasha. Carefully, with Kaede's assistance, he wrapped the quilt around Inuyasha and then took the woman in his arm, carrying her out of the hut.

He grimaced at the inconvenience of having just one arm as his mokomoko-sama curled protectively around the slowly waking bundle.

There was a slight groan and Sesshoumaru picked up speed, heading for the Goshinboku once again.

"Wh…" A hoarse voice muttered in confusion and Sesshoumaru frowned, directing his tail to cover Inuyasha's eyes to protect them from the bright morning sunlight. "What the hell…"

"Be silent, Inuyasha." Sesshoumaru whispered to her and she stiffened when she recognized his voice, "and stay still. I shall explain everything soon."

Her scent indicated her uncertainty but surprisingly, she complied. She did not relax as she brought her arm up to move Sesshoumaru's tail off her face gently. She blinked, turning her face away from the sunlight as her eyes adjusted before looking up at him with a frown, "You are…" Inuyasha paused, looking perplexed, "You are carrying me?"

Sesshoumaru nodded, finally arriving at his destination. He set his sister down on the soft grass covered ground gently, knowing that the quilt would keep her warm before sitting down in front of her. "How do you feel?"

Inuyasha arched a brow at him, confused by the unexpected query before she concentrated her gaze inward. "Wow." She whispered, "Well, I seem to have taken a sound beating." Her lips formed a fierce scowl, "My leg feels numb, my ribs are aching, my head feels heavy…" her eyes narrowed, "Poison, fever, broken ribs…" she paused, "blood-loss with my healing ability compromised…" she combed her fingers through her hair, "Damn it, it will take a long while for me to recover from this."

Sesshoumaru arched a brow, mildly impressed that she was able to identify her own injuries with such accuracy.

Suddenly, she stiffened, her fingers still in her hair. With wide eyes, she grasped a lock of those silver stands and inspected it. Paling a great deal, she finally looked down at her body, "Kami-sama…" she whispered in horror, her gaze immediately moving towards her bare ankle.

Her eyes snapped towards him, narrowed and defensive. However, before she could open her mouth and say something that would no doubt entice his ire; he spoke. "I do not wish for an explanation." He stated calmly, "I know why such a deception was necessary." He narrowed his eyes at her, his anger apparent, "However, the fact that you kept this from me is unacceptable. Have you no comprehension of the dangers you face?"

Inuyasha seemed surprised for a moment before her anger rose to match his, "This is none of your business! What dangers? As long as that anklet exists on my being, I will come to no harm. I don't need you to be involved."

Sesshoumaru almost growled, "You are foolish and reckless." He hissed softly, "Do you plan on hiding your identity for your entire life? You are gallivanting through the lands, unaware of your situation, unprotected and ignorant. I am you bro-"

"You are no brother of mine!" She snapped, "I know your true face. I know you to be a cruel, prejudiced man and I am not about to change my opinion simply because you gained a sudden understanding of our relationship." Inuyasha narrowed her eyes at him, "I have always been your sibling. You have rejected me from the moment I took my first breath. You have slandered my mother, looked down upon me as though I am some abomination and you expect me to share my secrets with you! How shocking! Your audacity surprises me."

"My audacity?" Sesshoumaru asked, his voice low and dangerous, "I recall quite clearly that a certain impudent pup refused to accept my protection when I offered it."

"Protection?" Inuyasha asked with a scoff, "Yes, what a fine life it would have been, ignored or belittled by my own kin. Sneered at by servants and treated with next to no respect. Why should I have subjected myself to that? I would rather face such insults from strangers than my own brother!"

"So you chose pride over safety?" Sesshoumaru asked in disgust.

Inuyasha narrowed her eyes, "Don't you dare accuse me of pride. You are the very definition of it. You reek of your arrogance. I would have been a fine submissive bitch underneath your exemplary care, with no confidence and self-assurance to give me strength. Your condescending words would have damaged me beyond repair had I not taken that wise decision to separate myself from you."

Sesshoumaru looked at her intently, "You truly believe that."

Inuyasha met his gaze, "Have you shown me anything else? Tell me aniue, when have you ever shown me the smallest measure of kindness? I will confess that I have always and will always hold you in high regard. I cannot help but view you with a measure of respect and affection however, I am not blind to your faults or your lack of affection for me. Why should I expose myself to such pain?" she looked at him seriously, "I have done both of us a favor. To expose myself to your nonexistent mercy for every moment of my life would have ruined me. It is best that we stay separated."

His sister had effectively rendered him speechless.

She raised her hand towards him, "My anklet." She demanded gruffly.

Sesshoumaru shook his head, "Circumstances have changed." He said firmly before fetching Izayoi's letter from his sleeve. "Despite what you feel, Inuyasha, I cannot allow you to be unprotected any longer." When she bristled in anger, he raised a hand keep her silent, "Do not make assumptions about my nature, imouto." He whispered, looking into her eyes in all seriousness, "You know as little about me as I know about you. For now, I ask you to put aside your anger and listen to reason. We can bicker about each other's faults later."

Inuyasha gazed at him for a long moment before turning her attention towards the letter. She read it, her face turning as white as a sheet. She looked almost as though she was about to faint and Sesshoumaru would not have been surprised if she had. She was already weak with fever and poison. Moreover, her anger with him had taken away some of her energy.


She sighed shakily, her delicate brows furrowing in dismay, "This is problematic."

"You were not aware?" Sesshoumaru asked, tilting his head to the side.

Inuyasha blushed and looked away, causing Sesshoumaru's eyes to darken a bit.

She was beautiful.

"Such matters have never been discussed with me." She answered softly, "I was passively aware of heat and how it affected demons but…" she breathed softly, "I had always assumed that that wouldn't be an option for me."

Sesshoumaru arched a brow as he understood what she meant to imply, "You mean to tell me that you had decided that you would not mate?"

Inuyasha sighed, "It wasn't a conscious decision, just something I had accepted." She shrugged, "None of the men I have encountered have endeared me to the idea of mating."

"That wolf amongst your companions is of noble birth." Sesshoumaru pointed out, "He was affected by your scent almost instantly."

Inuyasha's face soured. "He is very open in expressing his affections for Kagome. If he is able to shift his interest with such ease then I believe he would prove to be a shallow man." she arched a brow, "Besides, I may not hate him but I dislike him."

Sesshoumaru observed her for a moment as she looked down at the letter with a troubled frown. She had assumed that she would be able to maintain her disguise for all her life. There was a hint of longing in her eyes as well, as she caressed the words, obviously remembering her mother. "Imouto."

She looked up at him and Sesshoumaru frowned at her, "You realize that you must come back to the castle with me?" When she scowled, he leaned forward, grasping her chin as his eyes flashed in warning, "I have already made arrangements." He whispered, "I am asking you out of courtesy. You know very well that I can make it an order. You are still my younger sister, Inuyasha. Be reasonable."

She glared at him, "You have no right to order me around, you bastard! I am not going to obey you. I will head south as my mother says."

His fingers tightened and Inuyasha stilled when those piercing golden eyes narrowed at her. "Do not be difficult and force me to take measures that neither of us would cherish." He whispered dangerously, "I will not let you out of my sight, Inuyasha. I have neglected my duties for far too long. I have let you have your own way and given you freedom that father would never have allowed any of his children to have in their youth. I should have not allowed you to leave all those years ago. That was a mistake. However, you have a choice here, imouto. You come willingly or I force you to."

Inuyasha paled a bit even as her eyes narrowed in anger. "I wish to head south."

Sesshoumaru pursed his lips before grasping her wrist and pulling her towards him. An arm wrapped around her like a band of iron even as she cursed and struggled against him. Any other day, she would have had some success against his strength but her wounds had weakened her.

"You are unwise." He hissed.

Inuyasha tried to claw at his grasp, her eyes narrowed and furious, "Let go of me! You cannot force me, you bastard!"

He growled furiously, directing his tail to wrap around her tightly before grasping her silk-like hair and tugging it harshly. When her neck was bared to him, he surged forward, his fangs latching onto the pale flesh. He was careful not pierce the skin, only leaving behind faint impressions.

She gasped and stiffened in his grasp, her eyes wide when her entire body seemed to go limp without her consent. "You will listen to me, sister or you will suffer my ire." He hissed, his lips brushing against her sensitive skin, "I do not wish you any harm. I do not wish for you to feel pain or sadness. I wish to protect you and bring you to your home, where you belong. Do not resist me. I do this for your own good."

"Since when do you care for my feelings?" she asked weakly, her fingers fisted in his haori. His youki had effectively surrounded and paralyzed her and it was terrifying to realize just how much power he had over her.

His grip on her hair eased as little and she shivered when he nuzzled her, his breath whispering against her flushed skin. "When have I not?" he asked, almost to himself, his voice breathy, "That accursed spell of yours affected me as well, affected the bond that should have been present and nurtured from your birth. Your mother severed an Inu-youkai sibling bond, committing the highest form of blasphemy I have ever come across."

Inuyasha stilled, her eyes wide. "Severed?" she asked in a shaky whisper. He swallowed and Inuyasha closed her eyes in dismay. "When you wished to kill me… when you said those words… when you refused to acknowledge me…"

"Every time you wear that anklet, my sister disappears and an imposter takes her rightful place. Half of me wishes to kill that imposter and the other half of me wishes to protect it. Can you comprehend how that affects me Inuyasha?" his tail slowly uncoiled from around her however, it remained looped around her waist, keeping her close to Sesshoumaru. "When you wear that anklet, even though you carry our father's scent, you do not feel as though you are his son. It is as though your mother lied and tried to pass off her b-"

"Oh don't say it!" Inuyasha whispered desperately, her hand on her mouth as she realized what had happened. "Don't…"

Sesshoumaru nodded, pulling his face away from her neck, knowing that she would not escape him. His lips twitched when he felt her fingers caressing the soft fur of his tail. "Close your eyes and feel, Inuyasha. Reached deep within yourself and your youkai and you will find colored threads that bind you to your precious people." He watched as she obeyed and closed her eyes, "There must be two black threads. One that connects to our father's spirit and another that connects to your mother's spirit." He waited patiently and she nodded when she found those bonds. "There is a thick, golden ribbon that binds you to the west. It is a link so strong that no spell can overcome it."

"I can see." She whispered in awe.

Sesshoumaru nodded, "Thin, almost fragile looking pink threads should connect you to your friends. You have marked them with your scent to protect them so they are connected to you." He looked at her intently, "A pure white thread should be present as well. That connects you to your step-mother, my mother." Inuyasha gasped as she found the thread, throbbing with life and strength. "She is your mother not in blood but her instinctual affection for you will not be any less than what Izayoi felt for you. Your spell must have suppressed that bond." Inuyasha nodded faintly, "There should be a strong, pulsing green thread that binds you to me. It will be particularly radiant since I-"

"It is red."

Sesshoumaru paused, his eyes narrowed. "Pardon?"

Inuyasha frowned in confusion, "The thread that I feel is connected to you is red… deep red and it is thick as a ribbon, pulsing with energy."

Sesshoumaru stiffened before closing his eyes, summoning his youki and immersing himself in it.

"Indeed." Sesshoumaru thought to himself as he gazed at the red ribbon with a frown. "You are very wise indeed Izayoi-sama." He thought to himself, "You severed our sibling bond because you knew we were never meant to be siblings." He pulled himself out of his trance and opened his eyes, looking at Inuyasha who sat in front of him, still looking at the threads that tied her to important people in her life. "Had you not done so, we would have grown up to regard each other as siblings and love each other as siblings do… we would never have been able to mate." He narrowed his eyes, "We would not have been able to mate each other but would not been able to mate anyone else either."

His tail tightened about her possessively for a moment before he carefully pulled himself away from her. The situation needed to be handled with care.

"Do the colors matter?" Inuyasha asked softly, her eyes opening to look at him inquisitively.

Sesshoumaru stilled for a moment before offering an explanation. "Those threads connecting you to your father and Izayoi would have been white had they lived, just like the thread connecting you to mother is." He leaned back against the Goshinboku, looking up at the branches thoughtfully. "Our link to our lands is always a thick golden ribbon and the link between siblings is always a warm, pulsing green. The colors of such threads are bright and clear because you are born with those bonds already set in place. The bonds you develop later in life, like the bonds of companionship and the likes, have pale, faded colors because they can never be as strong and potent as the other bonds. The sole exception to this is the mating bond which will turn from a pale green to a strong pulsing blue as the relationship deepens."

She frowned, "Why is the ribbon that connects us red? It is a very bright and potent color as well which means that I was probably born with that connection. It feels stronger than any other bonds as well…"

Sesshoumaru inclined his head and chose his words carefully. "I imagine that when you were born, this ribbon would have been a simple bright red thread entwined with a green string." He glanced at her, "Due to your mother's spell, that green string must have been severed, allowing this one to grow and mature completely. It explains our hostility towards each other."

Inuyasha paled a bit, "Does red indicate enmity?" she asked shakily.

The Daiyoukai shook his head, looking pensive. "Red indicates the most potent bond. A soul bond." He replied carefully. "The strength of that connection is…" he paused, "unlike anything I have ever witnessed. It is very fragile at the beginning but if allowed to grow freely, it becomes very powerful, binding two people so tightly to each other that they simply cannot exist without each other's presence in their lives."

"I don't understand…" Inuyasha whispered with a frown, "Why would we share such a bond? And why would we feel hostile towards each other?"

Sesshoumaru stayed silent for a long time after that question, his gaze inward. It was a while before his spoke, his voice sounding almost hesitant, which was so uncharacteristic that Inuyasha looked at him keenly. "I suspect that you mother purposefully severed our sibling bond with that spell, Inuyasha."

The hanyou stiffened, ready to defend Izayoi but Sesshoumaru shook his head at her. "For the right reasons, imouto. Be patient." He commanded curtly and Inuyasha frowned. "I must explain this from the beginning. Those threads, Inuyasha, are manifestations of our own soul. Youkai souls are more powerful than human souls." He looked at Inuyasha, "Think of human souls as small balls of pure energy. They are isolated little things that rarely connect with other souls. In comparison, youkai souls resemble a ball of yarn. Because of the very nature of our souls, we are deeply connected to nature. Our soul reaches out to touch everything around us. We have a high level of empathy, a great sensitivity to our surroundings. At this very moment, our soul is temporarily connected to the Goshinboku, to the well that seems to radiate a sense of otherworldliness, to the animals and insects that surround us. When we leave this place, those bonds will disappear."

Inuyasha looked at him with marvel, the expression on her face very much like that of a curious child. Sesshoumaru resisted the sudden urge to smile indulgently at her.

"Because of our sensitivity to our surroundings, we also have a great deal of control and restraint. This is why the ningen seem to view us as heartless creatures. We need that control, that instinctive barrier that we place between the world and ourselves. We need it for the sake of our sanity."

Her eyes widened, "Is that why I feel more at ease with demons than with humans?"

Sesshoumaru gave a little smirk, "To our sensitive perceptions, humans seem to be cold and soulless creatures, Inuyasha."

The hanyou looked at him for a long moment, an expression of astonishment clear on her features before she burst into laughter. "That has to be the greatest irony!"

Sesshoumaru's lips twitched. "Indeed." He drawled, his eyes moving over her amused and flushed features with a great deal of appreciation. "As I have already explained, there are certain bonds that a person is born with. These bonds are more potent than most because our soul is intimately entwined with theirs. In our case, Inuyasha, that red ribbon extends from me, since I am the elder, to wrap completely and protectively around your own soul."


Sesshoumaru looked at her piercingly, "Probably because of what you are, Inuyasha." He said, "A Hanyou in body but a pure youkai in soul."

Inuyasha started in surprise, "What?"

Sesshoumaru gave a faint sigh. "The source of a youkai's power, unlike what most people believe, is not its body. The soul is the youkai's true power. A human priest and priestess's power resides in their souls as well, however, it is a power granted to them by their Gods. It is not something that they possess as a birthright. For example, your miko Kikyou possessed great power but her sister barely possesses a fraction of it. They belong to the same clan and yet the difference in their power is great. Kikyou's gift was passed onto Kagome since she is the reincarnation. However, it would seem that your little miko was set to have her own powers. Kikyou's powers and hers combined to create a stronger being." He observed her, "You are much more powerful than a normal hanyou would be because unlike most hanyou, you were fortunate enough to be born with a soul that is purely a youkai soul. You were blessed by your mother's powers. However, that left you in a very vulnerable position."

"Yes, the whole issue with people wishing to gain possession of me." Inuyasha grumbled with a scowl.

"Iie, Inuyasha." Sesshoumaru shook his head, "That is just a small portion of the problem. You have a youkai soul; you have the empathy and sensitivity but not the restraint and the protections that we are born with. You have no comprehension of how dangerous that is. You are a rare, delicate gem, imouto." He whispered, "Very fragile in ways that most will not be able to comprehend. Your soul is open, unprotected, your mind unguarded against outside influence. Your body is strong, your spiritual powers are impressive and your skills quite well-developed but your soul and mind are vulnerable." Sesshoumaru breathed deeply, "All of us, knowingly and unknowingly, have provided you with strong protections. Father gave you the Tetsusaiga, your mother cast that spell and I, unknowingly and instinctively, formed the most potent of bonds with you, offering you the protection of my own soul. Do you realize the importance of this, Inuyasha?"

Inuyasha looked overwhelmed as she shook her head. "No."

"Tetsusaiga reinforces your mental strength and the control you have over your demon form. Your body is not capable of transforming and therefore your demon form is trapped. The Tetsusaiga keeps it in check. The spell not only disguises you and protects your true identity from others, it also severs a bond that would have rendered me unable to protect you as well as I do now. Her spell encouraged the soul bond, Inuyasha. I must have instinctively sensed your vulnerability when your mother was still carrying you. For that reason, I initiated the soul bond." He frowned, "The spell slowly severed the sibling bond but its loss at such an early stage meddled with both our instincts. The soul bond was in its infancy, growing and yet somewhat muffled by the spell. It confused us completely, blinded both of us, frustrated us and caused a pain that neither of us could comprehend and hence we were hostile towards each other."

"Kami-sama…" Inuyasha breathed, "this is such a mess. I can barely wrap my head around what you are telling me, aniue." She whispered shakily.

Sesshoumaru shook his head in silent marvel. "Until I saw the red ribbon, I was not certain about our situation at all. I had assumed that Izayoi had unknowingly severed the sibling bond by using that spell. However, the spell, though ingenious, was not entirely necessary." Inuyasha looked at him in question. "I am well capable of protecting you from greedy suitors, Inuyasha. I was capable then and I am capable now. Just for that reason, the spell was not needed. Under my protection, nothing would have been able to touch you. Had the spell not existed, our sibling bond would have developed and I would have been properly attentive and possibly, very protective. It is my nature." He looked thoughtful, "I am still uncertain about its purpose. I do not understand why she felt it was necessary that everyone viewed you as a male. Severing the sibling bond was the right thing to do. The soul bond will protect you more effectively than anything else."

Inuyasha sighed and shook her head, "Please…" she pleaded, massaging her temples, "I don't think I can take any more of this right now. Can we discuss this later?"

Sesshoumaru looked at her pale face with a frown, reaching forward to press his palm against her forehead, "Your fever is returning. It is best that we head towards the castle as soon as possible, Inuyasha. Our healers are better equipped to deal with your wounds than your ningen miko." He looked into her eyes, "You are coming with me, Inuyasha. It is not up for discussion."

Inuyasha nodded weakly, rising her arms to wrap them around Sesshoumaru's neck as he lifted her. "I will come. However, I need to speak with my friends first. They, no doubt have questions."

Sesshoumaru hummed in agreement. "Indeed they do. You may speak with them if they are considerate enough to show some restraint and not pressurize you. If they are not, I am afraid; they will have to wait until the healers of our castle have deemed you fit enough to deal with their boisterousness before their questions are answered."


"I will not cede, Inuyasha, save your breath." Sesshoumaru stated curtly, "I have no patience for them and I am anxious to take you out of the wolf's company."

Inuyasha looked at him in surprise, "What has that flee-bitten bastard done now?"

"Your wolf companion seemed to lose himself to his instincts at the sight of you." His voice was smooth, yet unusually deep and smoky as it ghosted over her ear. "The scent of your blood was enough to shake his control and he dared to lose himself to his lust in my presence, even if it was for a moment. This Sesshoumaru, imouto, will not so easily forgive that action."

She looked at him for a moment with wide eyes before turning her head away with a muffled cough to disguise her laugh.

Sesshoumaru was unexpectedly cute when he was feeling protective.

"You find this amusing." He stated, his voice bland. She looked at him, taking in his impassive expression with twitching lips. "Is his loss of control amusing to you?"

Inuyasha snorted inelegantly, "What control? He rarely exhibits any control and restraint."

"Is that so?" Sesshoumaru asked her with a raised brow, "And what about yourself. During our conversation, you spoke quite elegantly. You did not show the lack of refinement that you usually display so callously. Am I to assume that you have built an alternate persona for your male disguise?"

Inuyasha shrugged, "I could do little else. As you well know, mother died when I was just about fifty years old." Inuyasha stated, "And despite the disguise, she raised me as a daughter. The daughter of a Princess and a Lord." She looked at him with a small frown, "I had all these little habits and manners that were too feminine to ignore. The tendency to say 'atashi', for example, was one such habit. When, mother was alive, it wasn't much of an issue. I rarely spoke to her, much less anyone else. All my time was spent on mastering my spiritual powers and training my body and learning to wield various weapons. I knew that the moment mother passed on, I would be kicked out of the clan home." She narrowed her eyes, "My biggest obstacle wasn't that I wasn't powerful enough to survive on my own, it was the fact that inevitably, I had to interact with various people. Few times, I was caught. One of them was actually a slave trader who was convinced I was a woman and was bent on capturing me."

Sesshoumaru stiffened and looked down at her with narrowed eyes.

She shook her head, "I killed him and the any others who were too suspicious to ignore. In time, it had become apparent that I had to conceal somehow, my noble upbringing. My habits, my manners, the way I spoke and dressed… everything indicated that I was a well-educated hanyou of noble birth. That was well and fine if I were actually staying amongst nobles. However, surviving in the forests and streets of villages meant that my educated manners were actually a disadvantage." She rubbed the bridge of her nose to ease her headache, "I decided to observe bandits and other such men and imitate the manner in which they behaved, thus leading me to develop a mask of sorts." She smirked, "It was a perfect disguise that no one could see through, and not even you were able to, Sesshoumaru."

The Daiyoukai arched a brow at her smug expression. "It took years for me to master it. The things that I have been taught since birth are never going to leave me. Somehow, I managed to lock that portion of my life away. Every time I release the spell, I not only free my body but also my mind. I become what I truly was before I left my mother's home. The Inuyasha you know is a mask. The language and gestures that I learned from the bandits are infused in that personality. I had always been a very… reticent person and have never been someone who could comfortably exist with three or more people as constant company. My unease and irritation made it easy for me to construct a loud and argumentative persona."

Sesshoumaru nodded, "This I have observed." He stated thoughtfully, "You rarely share your thoughts. If you do, you are mostly very curt and aloof." He looked at her in appreciation, "It would seem that you have inherited your mother's cunning, Inuyasha." He whispered, "How very interesting."

There was something in his voice and the manner in which he looked at her that caused her to blush and look away in confusion.

"And yet, despite everything, you haven't forgotten to blush prettily." Sesshoumaru added nonchalantly.

"Aniue!" She hissed, irritated and embarrassed.

Sesshoumaru smirked, "Come, imouto, we must resolve the matter of your companions."

She glared at him before turning her head away, burying her nose in the soft fur of his tail and summarily ignoring him for the rest of their walk. She wished her leg wasn't in such a mangled condition because being carried around by him was an embarrassment.


A slight chuckle indicated that her dear brother had heard her remark and it had done nothing to lessen his amusement.