Aaaand I'm back, after a long radio silence, it seems, and with more SesshoumaruxKagura! And more fairytales! This one, though, is my own creation. I slaved hard and long on it, so enjoy, and don't be shy to tell me if there's something that can be worked on to fix it up. I hope it sounds genuine enough.

I do not own InuYasha and related characters; I do, however, own the fairytale. Muahahahaha! *coughs* Sorry.

Once upon a time, in a land far, far away, there lived a king and a queen who had three children; a boy and two girls.

To all appearances, the royal family was a happy one. The king would shower his wife and children with expensive clothes and jewellery, and they always looked happy when they were seen together. This led the people of the kingdom to believe that the king truly loved his family. However, no one knew what the king was like when he was alone; a cold, black-hearted man who cared for little other than himself and showed only cruelty to those around him. Long ago he had kidnapped his queen from her own kingdom and had forced her to marry him. When the queen died, it was as if her death broke a chain holding the king back; he began to be even crueller towards the people around him, most of all the Princess Kagura. The poor princess was only ten years old when her mother died.

Every single morning, so early that the sun had yet to rise, the king would enter his daughter's rooms as she slept, and would pull her out of bed by her hair and drag her through the halls into the lowliest, dirtiest kitchen in the palace, and tossed her to the floor. He would throw a rag and a bucket at her, and order her to clean all the floors of the kitchens. He would order the servants and slaves of the palace not to help her, on pain of death.

In the beginning, Princess Kagura had protested, trying to disobey her father, but whenever she tried to go against him, he would beat her until she bled. Eventually, she stopped trying to go against him. Indeed, she stopped talking at all, until eventually she did whatever she was told without the slightest protest. Taking pity on their tortured princess, the servants liked her and would do small things to help her, all the while trying to protect themselves and their families from the King's cruel hand.

Meanwhile, the King spoilt his youngest and heir, the Prince Hakudoshi, with treasure and good luck, encouraging the young prince's sadistic streak, and striking down any who would protest the actions of the royal family. So Hakudoshi grew, learning to manipulate and torture the people around him. The king treasured his son so, he would often send out his guard to pick out a single peasant to bring back for the young Prince to play with, as a cat might play with a mouse. His third child, the Princess Kanna, was almost entirely ignored by her father, shown neither love nor hate and, as a consequence, she faded into the shadows.

For three years things passed as such. King Naraku went out and conquered new lands, killing any who stood in his way, in his own kingdom and abroad; Prince Hakudoshi learnt his father's cruel tricks and developed his own; Princess Kanna lurked in the shadows, watching everything as it transpired around her; and Princess Kagura, called Ruby-Eyes by the servants so as to never bring her father's attention to themselves, was forced to wash and scrub like the lowliest of slaves until her arms and legs were red and swollen from work.

One day, King Naraku was walking along the castle grounds when he saw the Princess Kagura and a maidservant talking to each other as though they were friends. The king grew enraged that a person would dare speak to his worthless daughter, and pulled the princess away as he called for the maidservant's death. Ignoring his daughter's protests, he dragged her to a distant corner of the castle grounds, wherein grew a secret garden surrounded by tall, thick walls.

The garden was small, and filled with fruit trees and perennial flowers that had been left to grow wild. In the center was a golden fountain that continuously sprayed clear water into the air and quenched the thirst of the plants. The only way in was by the gardener's door, and only the gardener had the key. The only way to see into the garden was from the king's own chambers, for it had been constructed for a long-ago king who had loved to look upon it.

It was into here that King Naraku dragged his daughter. He pulled the door open and shoved her inside, slamming the bar down across the door and locking her inside with no possible escape.

Princess Kagura was distraught, and she tried as hard as she could to get out. A single wall seemed to be made solely of high rose bushes, flowering with large crimson blooms. This wall was where she first thought to escape. She tried to move through the bushes, and climb them to the sky, but the thorns tore at her dress and skin. She tried to dig beneath the bushes, but could not, for the roots of the rose bushes created a great wall beneath the earth. She tried to break down the door she had entered by, but it would not budge.

Now hungry, tired, hurt, and covered in dirt and her own blood, the princess washed her hands in the fountain's water, and fell asleep on the marble counter that surrounded the fountain.

When she awoke the next morning, she found that the wounds from the rose bushes' long thorns had healed, for the abandoned fountain now contained water that had the power to heal. The princess walked around the garden, pulling down and eating fruits that she found were now ripe, despite it not being the right season; for the garden was magic, and every year from spring until fall, the trees and bushes would flower and bear fruit at the same time.

For days she lazed about, not knowing what to do, until boredom got the best of her. She began to clean the garden; weeding it, pulling out the thistles and stinging nettle with her bare hands. In this place, there was nought for her to do but weed the garden without tools or die of boredom.

As she rid the garden of the weeds that chocked it, birds and other small creatures returned. Not only did the sparrows and robins come back to the hidden garden, but so did many other birds that Kagura could not name; a bird that looked like a peacock, but was red and gold, and could fly high above the clouds; white birds with long faces and bony wings; crows with long, scaly tails and more eyes than was proper. But Kagura's favourite companion was one of the small ones, a bird with a long tail and feathers the colour of sunlight, with bright brown eyes and a sweet song. The bird joined Kagura every day, sitting near her and singing of flight and freedom, and left every night at sunset, to return at dawn. When Kagura asked, the bird said her name was Rin and that she was a messenger for the demons that held court every night on the moon-world.

So Kagura lived, isolated in her garden, with only the birds as company.

However, unbeknownst to Princess Kagura, the king was always watching. From the balcony outside of his room, Naraku watched her every chance he got, observing what she did, waiting for the day she would die. To his surprise that day never came and he continued to watch her, hoping to figure out how she could live, alone and enclosed in the garden's great walls as she was. He never did, but he did notice the birds that flew down into the garden every morning, and observed every night as the little golden bird with the long tail flew away up, up into the sky, towards the moon, never changing its course as it flew off and disappeared into the multi-coloured sunset.

He did not know what sort of bird this was, or where it went, but after seeing it fly down to the garden where his daughter had been condemned to live and up again towards the eternal vault of the sky many times, he decided that he would have to find out. And so, one evening, the evil king turned himself into a crow as black as pitch and followed the little bird to where she flew.

Now, you see, Naraku was not the only one who had been watching the princess. Far above the world where the humans lived there was to be found -if one looked hard enough- another world that was similar, yet not the same. On the moon there lived a race of demons as beautiful and cold as the world in which they lived. One of these demons was a young lord with long white hair that flowed on the moon's wind and eyes like gold, who wore long white robes made of silk that rippled like the waves in a pond. His name was Sesshoumaru, and he noticed the princess quite by accident.

It had happened one day when the moon was already in the sky as the sun began to set, and the young lord had been looking down for no reason in particular. He looked down onto the human world with wandering eyes that eventual came upon the walled garden. By this time, the garden had fully returned to life, and even the demon had to admit that it was quite beautiful.

As he looked more closely, he noticed the young woman standing in the garden all alone. A stray thought flickered across his mind (Why was this girl alone within the garden's high walls?), but he ignored it, and continued watching the young woman until it grew dark in the world of the humans, and did not quit even then.

The only one to see the young lord in his *concentration* was Rin, his companion and messenger. She fluttered down to a perch near the young lord, tired after her long flight back to the moon. At first she was content to watch him, as she had never seen quite that look on his face before, but soon she became curious and she hopped closer to see what the young lord saw. However, the bird could not see through the night like the moon demon could, but she could not stop herself, and she had to ask what it was that had caught the young lord's attention.

For the longest time the lord did not respond. Then, eventually, he told the little bird:

"I am looking down into a garden surrounded by walls, wherein stands a princess as fair as the sunrise. I do not know her name, but I hope I may someday learn it."

Or rather, he had said something shorter and less direct, but that is what the little bird understood.

"Her names is Princess Ruby-Eyes," little Rin replied. "She was imprisoned in that garden by her father, the king of that land, and she now lives her days in loneliness. We birds join her every dawn, but she still yearns for company."

The little bird was trying to convince the young lord to go down to earth to meet the princess, as she knew that they were both lonely, but she was disappointed that the young lord did not respond. However, for every day after that Sesshoumaru continued to look down and watch the princess in her garden and every night, after she had returned from the earth, Rin would join him in his vigil.

The princess, however, knew nothing of her two observers. She lived in the garden for season after season, caring for the garden out of sheer boredom and in return receiving everything she needed to live. One winter came, though, where the wind was too cold and the snow too deep for her to stay out in the open. All most unheard for the kingdom the evil king ruled, the snow fell until Kagura found herself up to her shoulders in it, and the air was cold enough to freeze it and pack the snowdrifts down hard. Frozen to her bones, the princess realised that she could not stay, or else she would be risking her life to this cold. In that moment, she decided to take the opportunity to do what she had dreamed of doing for so long; breaking free of the prison her father had trapped her in.

Little by little, she moved the snow into a tall mountain that stood against the wall. Even as her hands and feet froze, she continued to build. Soon, all of her bird-friends that had not flown south to warmer weather came to her aid, pulling up blocks of snow and ice with their talons, and buffeting the loose snow up and packing it all down with their wings.

By the time the sun set that day, they had built the mountain tall enough that the princess would be able to step from its summit to the top of the high walls. She inched along the wall to a nearby tree that grew next to wall. She climbed down the tree, landed in the snow, and ran through the castle grounds with her birds calling down directions and warnings so that the princess could make her escape. She found a small door in the castle walls that led to outside world, and left through it, running deep into the forest illuminated by the twilight.

It was not long until the king learned that his daughter had escaped; and when he did, his anger grew beyond measure. He alerted his son, the Prince Hakudoshi, an accomplished hunter, despite his young age, and together they stormed out of the palace, accompanied by a group of dark-hearted huntsmen, and rode their white horses in pursuit of the escaped princess.

The princess heard the sound of the horses' hooves and the howls of the hunting dogs, and new that her father had learned of what she had done. She swept away the footprints she left in the snow, leaping over or wading across streams, and raced through the forest that surrounded the castle guided by the birds. Some of them –the white bony ones and the long-tailed crows- turned around and attacked the dogs and horsemen that pursued them, fighting them off.

Rin, too, had been with the princess as they built the mountain of snow, but had flown off once the princess escaped, for she knew that Kagura would be needing more help, and soon. She flew back to the moon and found Sesshoumaru, and tried to convince him to go to the human's world and come to the princess's aide.

It did not take much explaining; the young lord had already seen what had transpired, and, without stopping to say anything to the other moon demons, he flew down to where the princess was being hunted by her own kin. For you see, as he had gazed down at the princess for all those long days and nights, he had quite fallen in love with her. He had said nothing to anyone, even to little Rin, and perhaps he hadn't even admitted it to himself.

And so the lord lowered himself onto earth, and struck out at the hunters with a mighty blow from his sword. With one sweep of his blade the hunters fell, all but the king and the prince, who still stood proudly on their horses.

"Who are you, who dares save my ungrateful wretch of a child?" demanded King Naraku, looking down at the young lord.

Sesshoumaru did not answer him, for he was not the sort for idle chatter, and attacked the king. Naraku pulled out his sword and fought back, using the advantage of height the horse offered him, crashing his blade down onto the young lord's, hoping to shatter it, and along with it the demon's skull. However, the prince, too, was alive, and he chose his moment to strike at the young lord with his halberd, tearing through the flesh of the demon's back, and sending up a spray of blood that painted the snow red.

The princess had watched at the young lord descended from the heavens to save her, and she had watched as her brother wounded him. She did not know who the pale young man was, but she knew that he had saved her life and that she could not let him die at the hands of her kin. She cast about, looking for a weapon and saw none. She had decided to tear down a branch to use as a club (even though she feared that if she did that, she would be far too late,) when Rin arrived in her lord's wake. In her talons she carried a knife, which she dropped into the princess's open hand. The princess Ruby-Eyes ran up to her little brother, stabbing him as she dragged him out of his saddle and onto the ground.

Again and again she plunged her knife into his chest, until the snow around them turned pure scarlet with blood and she was sure he was quite dead.

In the moment Hakudoshi had been pulled from his saddle, Naraku had been distracted and in that moment Sesshoumaru stabbed his sword into the man's neck, and the king fell from the horse's back. His blood rained from his throat onto the snow, mixing with his son's as their corpses lay in the cold, quietly freezing over.

Kagura approached her rescuer cautiously for though he had just saved her life, she was unsure of who he was. When she asked, it was Rin who answered; he was Lord Sesshoumaru, son of the leader of the moon demons.

"So, you are the princess Ruby-Eyes?" he asked. The princess smiled upon hearing the name given to her by the people she had considered her friends and introduced herself by her true name.

It was then that the young lord realised that she was freezing where she stood, and he offered her the chance to come and join him on the moon. The princess knew that there was nothing left for her on this earth, and she had no regrets agreeing to his offer.

And so, together, they ascend to the moon, now high overhead and turning the world to silver. There they would live until the end of days, with no walls or cruel fathers to keep them trapped and no more days of endless boredom to be prolonged.

I hope this was decent, and I hope that you stuck with it long enough to at least drop me a line about it. I'd be ever thankful for that.

P.S: If you're interested, this is the picture that sparked this story: http: / rakujitsu-no-yami(dot)deviantart(dot)com /gallery/ # /d2scbbb (just remove spaces and insert dots!)

Edited 13/02/2011