Disclaimer: I do not own Inuyasha and I do not make money from writing this story.
A/N: I hope you'll like this one. I'm pretty excited. Enjoy :)
His sharp, guttural voice resounded in the large room, bouncing off the walls and instilling the beginning of fear in the man that was called Shogun, who flinched suddenly. The autumn chill could almost be heard, but the two imposing figures would not waste their time on such unimportant matters.
"I asked a question," the Emperor reminded, using a calmer tone. He'd only wanted to warn Takemaru, after all. The fact that he was Shogun didn't mean he had to like the man. Which led to his current decision. Inu no Taishou wasn't afraid of anyone – he wouldn't let a single person ruin his plans of peace and happiness in his realm, and the ways of this Shogun were not exactly his.
Takemaru bowed slightly, a distinct sign of submission, showing it wasn't his intention to displease the hundreds of years older, much wiser dog demon. Unfortunately, Inu no Taishou could see though all of his pretenses. The man, the Shogun, was an arrogant bastard that only meant to rebel.
"It was not my will for that man to be killed, Inu no Taishou-sama," Takemaru said between gritted teeth, bowing again. Yet, even Takemaru knew the real reason behind Inu no Taishou's anger, even though he did not understand it. The Emperor had gotten what he had wanted, hadn't he? Now he definitely wanted to annul the Shogun's power. It was no secret that Inu no Taishou hated sharing power with others, and the fact that Takemaru had more to say over virtually everything constantly ticked him off. Of course, the death of one of his most loyal servants was what the Emperor would find the final straw.
"Silence," Inu no Taishou all but barked, desperately trying to restrain himself. He knew he should not feel jealousy of this individual that had got to spend his whole childhood with Izayoi – she was his now – but something told him to be weary of the current Shogun. "From this day forward you shall cease being Shogun. From now on you are simply daimyo."
Scowling, but successfully hiding it, Takemaru bowed, saying, "As you wish." He knew it would be stupid to try and protest – the Emperor would have his head in a flash. Inu no Taishou was – by far – the most powerful demon he'd ever come across or heard off. It was no wonder Sesshomaru was already almost as strong as his father. The young prince – young was a matter of perspective – was pretty much fearsome and intimidating, perhaps much more so than his father had ever been. It was probably due to his mother, though, as Empress Masami was one of the most beautiful and oddly detached women he'd met.
Straightening, Takemaru refrained from making unnecessary sounds. "I trust your wife, the Empress, is well?" This courtesy, it was always something he hated. And he knew the Emperor hated it two, which was the only thing that gave him a slight satisfaction about it and the urge to instigate such small talk.
The Emperor didn't answer – he merely grunted and nodded.
"And Izayoi-sama?" he asked slyly, relishing the mad flash in the Emperor's eyes at his familiarity with his only concubine. It was true – Izayoi was Inu no Taishou's concubine, and it was also widely known that he preferred her to his own wife. She should have been his wife, Takemaru recalled, as she had been promised to him almost since birth, but Inu no Taishou had stolen her from him, claiming her as his concubine the moment he laid his eyes on her. She was a beauty, indeed, and a few finer traits of hers were mirrored in her son, Inuyasha, the half demon that Inu no Taishou had seemed fit to recognize, even though it hadn't been made with his wife.
"You will refer to her as Miyake-sama, do you understand?" When Takemaru merely nodded, the Emperor did too, ignoring the previous question entirely and flicking his wrist to indicate he wished to be left alone.
As Takemaru walked outside the shoji doors, his fists clenched with a fervent promise: he would seek vengeance.
"Did you wish to see me?" Inuyasha asked with a gentleness he reserved for her and her alone. In the few years they had been married, she had become his purpose, had helped him change, feel loved. The beginning had been rough, as it had been an arranged marriage, but eventually they had fallen in love. She was a good woman, his wife. Even though she still wasn't at ease with his demonic heritage, he still loved her. Even if she was rather reserved at times, he still loved her. She had shown him that he meant something, and he knew he meant the world to his wife.
"Yes, I did, Inuyasha-sama," she said with a small bow, waiting for his scowl that came religiously. She ignored his, "I told you not to call me that," and bowed to him once again before saying, "You have not slept beside your wife in so long, and I miss you." His eyes misted as an eerie silence settled over the two of them. Inuyasha knew exactly what she was asking for, which was what he'd been avoiding for quite some time. He couldn't hurt himself or her this way.
"I have been busy. The Emperor needs me, Kikyou-san. You know that," he said gently, cupping her cheek with his palm.
"Mm-hmm," she nodded her agreement, before smiling softly. "I was told you are free today, so you could rest with me." Her eyes glinted with hope, and he knew he could not deny her anything. The time would come for another heartache, but he would be there for her, again.
It was truly sad that Kikyou couldn't give him children, but he supposed it was Kami's will. After all, he had angered them by disobeying their will. It hadn't been his fault, really – it had all been political. His father had been pressured by daimyo and his own wife, Masami-Hime, not to wait for Inuyasha's intended anymore and to arrange a secure marriage that would stop the whispers behind the imperial family's back.
He'd been angry at first, Inuyasha. He'd wanted to wait for his Half; he'd gone to such extremes as to ignore Kikyou for some time, until she had managed to crawl her way into his heart, but she could never have his soul, that was reserved for another. He supposed it was okay – his Half probably wasn't even born yet, and he was already 200 years old, which was the second reason why he'd had to accept this marriage. The people had started to think that the reason for his bachelorhood was that no one would want a half demon into their family, so Inu no Taishou had been forced to find his son a wife.
Inuyasha sighed, shaking his head slightly. "There is nothing I wouldn't do for you, Kikyou-san," he whispered as his lips pressed against hers, his hand resting casually on hers as the steady agreement stood between them.
It was autumn again. Kagome loved this season; it was her favorite. The colorful leaves were more impressive in her eyes than cherry blossoms. Truly, she loved the sense of calmness it brought to her. She had been born in autumn and ever since had felt a strange connection with it.
"Kagome-chan," a small voice called and the young woman groaned in mild annoyance. She knew she had to resume her chores, but she wished she could stay a bit more and admire the beauty of the nature. It was always all about simple things with her – Kagome loved everything. She was in love with life itself.
"Souta-kun," she greeted once the boy came into sight. Standing, she relished the wind that was slowly moving her kosode as she walked up to her younger brother. "Souta-kun, did okaa-san call for me?"
"Hai, Kagome-chan," the boy answered, nodding once. She followed him towards their humble house, unsure if her mother wanted to show her some more herbs today. It had become lessons. Kagome's mother had a large knowledge about healing and herbs that helped it. She was famous in their little village; she had never failed a soul, and now she was teaching Kagome.
Her family was odd, Kagome decided, as they stood next to each other, talking about various things.
"Are you listening, child?" her grandfather scolded when her mind wandered again to undiscovered territories. She had the strange feeling that something was missing from her life. She could be married soon, she knew. She had a few suitors, but she didn't like any of them. Sure, Akitoki Hojo was kind and always smiling, but she wanted more.
"Sorry, ojii-san. What were you saying?" The man shook his head and mumbled something under his breath. Yes – weird family, indeed. Her grandfather was convinced she was some sort of great miko that inherited his great – nonexistent – powers and would be famous in the whole world. He liked to deceive himself like that. Otherwise, the old man was nice, even with his incessant history stories.
"I was saying something about your Half," he replied.
Kagome flinched. Yes, his historical stories and the nonsense about the Half. According to her grandfather, superior beings, such as herself, had a Half that was waiting for them somewhere. Their souls were tightly bound and they would recognize each other at first sight. It all seemed so stupid and impossible to her that she felt compelled not to believe a word her grandfather was saying. But that didn't mean she could voice her opinions.
"Go on," she encouraged half-heartedly, knowing fully well that it would be a while until he stopped his rant.
"Well, this man is the only one you can bear a child for and you are the only one who can give him a child. The closeness between two halves is almost eerie, my child, but it should be welcomed with open arms, for it is a gift from Kami," he explained haughtily.
Kagome sighed, "I understand, ojii-san, but where is the love?"
"Love? The bond between two halves transcends that, ignorant child. You shall feel it soon – I know it," he stated proudly, looking as though he had reasons to brag to every person in the world.
Rolling her eyes, Kagome finished her food quickly, suddenly grateful for her impending chores. However, she had to admit this was bewildering. She'd wondered many times what it would be like to have a Half. What would he be like? Would he be a demon? Kagome didn't mind demons; as long as they didn't kill people, she was completely at ease with their presence.
However, her musings were rudely interrupted by a loud voice that desperately called for her mother. "Nakamatsu-san," she could hear her mother exclaim, "What is the matter?"
"Oyahou gozaimasu, Higurashi-san. The Emperor needs you at the palace!" At this, Kagome rushed to her mother's side in time to watch her eyes widen. "Me?" the woman asked in awe as the peasant nodded. "It is said that the Emperor's nephew is ill and they are gathering all the healers to make him better. You have to come. Excuse me, Higurashi-san, but I must hurry. I must announce Fujiwara-san as well," the man said with a bow, disappearing from sight.
Kagome's mother seemed ecstatic, probably realizing it was a one-time opportunity to show what she knew. "Ojii-san," Kagome called, "Souta-kun, we're going to the palace!"
"Listen to me, son," Inu no Taishou commanded and Inuyasha immediately bowed with a polite, "Yes, father." The full demon looked away. He looked so tired these days… but then again, he had always looked tired. At least, ever since Inuyasha could remember him. He knew his mother's death had been a drastic blow for his father – she had been his Half, even though he had been forced to stifle it and not to act upon it by his wife.
Eventually, Izayoi had been killed by Takemaru, her original intended, who had decided that if she wasn't his, she wouldn't belong to anyone else. Not even the Emperor. That had been his revenge for having lost his title as a Shogun, and his death sentence.
"One day you will find your Half," the Emperor stated, his voice firm. Inuyasha wanted to protest – he couldn't imagine being with anyone else but Kikyou, but he knew better. "When that happens, do not let anyone get in the way." Inuyasha nodded his agreement. "Inuyasha," the demon called resolutely, "Look at me." He did. "If your father, the Emperor, stands in the way, kill me," Inu no Taishou said, heading towards the other side of the room.
Inuyasha froze – he hadn't expected such a request. "Why is it so important?" His father stiffened as well, and stopped walking. "You must not understand the importance of this connection," he stated, "you will never feel something stronger than your feelings for your intended. Your true Half, the one that Kami blessed you with. You must understand, Inuyasha, we are not speaking about a woman that Kami have chosen for you and you have to deal with – we are speaking about a woman that your soul has chosen. Believe me, you will know it when you find her."
Inuyasha was contemplative for a minute, until he heard a stern, "You may leave." These days, Inu no Taishou didn't like company.
Kagome waited patiently for her mother to return. They had been given a small room, but they weren't complaining. Her mother was probably showing her knowledge and it wouldn't be long until the Emperor's nephew would be fine. Or so Kagome hoped.
After a few long hours, the tired-looking woman finally came back, flashing a wide smile that could engulf the whole universe.
"They were so impressed, Kagome-chan," her mother commented the moment she entered, skipping the regular greetings. Her smile was contagious, it seemed, as Kagome quickly adopted it, hugging her mother fiercely. "I'm proud of you, okaa-san. I knew you would do it."
"Thank you, sweet child. I see Souta-kun and your grandfather are already asleep," she commented upon the sight that greeted her and her daughter nodded.
"Come on, okaa-san. The fish is cold already," Kagome said gently, proud of her talented mother.
The shoji doors opened, revealing a tall young woman that bowed deeply upon the sight. Kikyou-Hime sat in the middle of the room, her eyes downcast and her dark hair pinned into a beautiful up-do, adorned with talismans and hair rather intricate ornaments to protect her from evil. Kikyou was a beauty.
"Kikyou-sama," the woman said politely, giving yet another deep bow, which Kikyou didn't notice. It was a bad sign, the servant knew. Whenever Kikyou was like this meant something had happened with Inuyasha.
"Sango-san," the princess stated softly, "I need someone to talk to." Immediately, Sango sat in front of her, nodding in agreement. Only then did Kikyou raise her eyes for Sango to look into. She had cried. Kikyou had cried, and Kikyou never cried. Tears were still trickling freely down her cheeks, but it seemed that her voice was unaffected. Sango could only imagine how troubled her soul surely was.
"Of course, Kikyou-Hime-sama," Sango said with a bow, "Tell me what is troubling you."
For a moment, it seemed like Kikyou wouldn't talk after all, but then she sighed and opened her mouth to speak, "I cannot have Inuyasha's children, and I know he wants a child so much." Sango nodded, encouraging the princess to continue. She already knew all that. "We cannot adopt a child, because Masami-Hime-sama has forbidden it. She does not want people to think the half breed cannot sire children," Kikyou drawled disdainfully.
The servant gasped subtly. What was the princess trying to say?
"I have been thinking of granting my husband my approval of him taking an official concubine and having his much desired child with her," Kikyou confessed, her voice noticeably quivering. Sango's eyes widened and her lips parted, giving the impression that she was ready to protest. "But," Kikyou said after a while of studying her stunned servant's reaction, "I cannot do it. No matter how many times I have thought it over, I cannot do it. I simply cannot willingly watch my husband go to bed with another person that is not me," Kikyou all but whispered, her resolve finally cracking. Shoulders slumped, the princess showed her weakness for the first time in front of someone else.
Kikyou sobbed noisily, her hands incessantly wiping the corners of her eyes that were flooded with hot tears of desperation. "Does this make me a bad person?" she asked, unsure of herself. "I love him, but I don't love him enough to let him do this. I trust him, but not enough to be sure he won't fall in love with someone else. Human hearts are weak, Sango-san, but demonic hearts are even weaker. Even if he is only half-demon, he still has youkai blood running through him. Kami-sama, how I wish he was human," Kikyou cried, her words nearly incoherent.
Sango was startled by Kikyou's last comment, but she said nothing. It was improper, anyway. She had no business interfering.
"No, it does not, Kikyou-hime-sama," Sango said, "all this does not make you a bad person. You are a wonderful, beautiful princess, with," she started citing the memorized praises, but Kikyou raised her hand as if to stop the servant's passionate tirade.
"Sometimes," she said, as if completely oblivious she was not alone, "sometimes I'm glad I'm not Inuyasha's Half."
Kagome couldn't believe it. They were actually required to go to the palace and see the Emperor! Which only meant that Inu no Taishou had requested to see them! Her family… And all because her mother's skills and knowledge. Kagome was infinitely glad she had taken her good yukata, the one she loved most. It was, for her, simply beautiful. Her mother was apprehensive, she could tell, but nothing would deter her.
But why had the whole family been requested to come? What was going to happen?
Shortly, the four arrived at the palace and marveled at its beauty. It was nothing like Kagome had ever seen, since she hadn't left the confines of her small village. Even though she had seen small paintings of palaces, they hadn't been detailed and the artists hadn't been too talented, either, so there were no words to describe what she felt.
She could only wonder how well these people lived.
They quickly followed the servants that lead to the receiving room where the Emperor was and they bowed deeply in front of him. He was truly striking in every way. A knot formed inside Kagome's throat – everything was of gigantic proportions here, even the people.
She recalled that the Emperor didn't want to be called anything other than Inu no Taishou-sama, and it seemed her mother did, too, because she politely stated just that.
"Higurashi-san, am I correct?" the Emperor asked, his voice exuding poise. Kagome's mother nodded, her eyes flashing between the floor and the Emperor's gaze.
"Hai, Inu no Taishou-sama."
"You did us a great favor," he spoke loudly. "My nephew is indebted to you, as am I."
The woman's eyes widened and her cheeks visibly reddened as she set her gaze on the ground, horribly flushed at having been praised so. "I-Inu no Taishou-sama," she said in awe.
"You shall be given a place to work at the palace. You shall be built a shrine, because I have heard that your father is a priest, and you shall be helping my personal medical staff. I trust this is good with you," he declared, leaving no room open for discussion, not that she wanted to protest anyway. It was the best opportunity she could have ever been given and they were all truly grateful for it.
"Arigatou gozaimasu, Inu no Taishou-sama," Kagome and her mother said at the same time, all four members of the family bowing deeply.
Suddenly, Kagome felt something. Something startling, but appealing at the same time – alluring; something that seemed to tempt her into trying to discover what it was. It felt as if a surge of power had flooded her body for an instant, it had called to all her senses, and she snapped her head to the side, where she thought the origin was.
The Emperor started at the girl's abrupt movement and watched in mild fascination as her horribly embarrassed mother nudged the girl in her ribs, signaling that she was drawing attention to herself. Eyes suddenly moist, Kagome bowed and apologized countless time for her rude behavior, stating that something had startled her.
Which was exactly why Inu no Taishou felt so confused and captivated. He had felt Inuyasha's youki rise, too, but why had this commoner felt it? She had dormant miko powers, he could feel it, but they hadn't awakened and there was no way she could feel anything without using them. Unless…
Well, he would certainly keep and eye on the beautiful, yet common girl.
Inuyasha's eyes snapped open. What was it?
What the Hell is this feeling?
It was frightening, disconcerting, perplexing… and… completely mesmerizing – enthralling even. It could only be fully described by one word: delicious. His heart dropped in the bottom of his stomach, leaving an oddly alarming sensation that crept up his spine to rest on his shoulders. He glanced at Kikyou who was sleeping at his side. She was beautiful, but…
Something was horribly, horribly wrong. He could feel it in his bones, in his blood. He had been lying in the middle of the day with his wife, enjoying a quiet nap, when he'd felt this. Whatever 'this' was. Suddenly, being with his wife didn't feel so proper anymore.
And then there was that scent… He couldn't really tell if it belonged to a person or if it was otherworldly, but it seized his lungs and lingered on the tip of his tongue. He swore he could taste it.
Inuyasha didn't wonder why his vision suddenly became hazy, tinted red. Subconsciously distancing himself from his wife, Inuyasha didn't question why his claws felt longer, or why his entire body burned with a breaking, scorching need. It was just that: pure hunger. And he loved it.
Kagome seemed unattached as she praised her talented mother for her skills and for the way she had made possible that this opportunity be granted to them, but the older woman could tell her daughter wasn't paying much attention. Ever since the visit to the Emperor she had been oddly quiet. If there was something Kagome never was, it was quiet.
"What is the matter, sweet child?" the woman asked, swiping Kagome's bangs off her forehead with her slender fingers. She wished her daughter would open up to her like she always did.
"I… I don't know," Kagome replied truthfully, looking in the distance. "Today, at the palace, I felt something," Kagome disclosed, but her mother already knew that. It had been so obvious. The young woman continued, "And ever since that feeling I've been having this strange… longing. But I don't know what I desire. It's odd, okaa-san, but I'm sure it will go away." Then she smiled. It wasn't a smile that reached her eyes, the older woman noted, but it was understandable. Something was troubling her daughter.
Sighing, Higurashi-san cupped her daughter's cheek lovingly, holding her gaze with her own. "Always, Kagome-chan. Always trust your heart," she advised, her eyes twinkling with firm determination.
Kagome's eyes darted to the sky. She could swear she could see a silver stripe crossing the heavens.