This chapter is purely optional to read; it's for background purposes only. Feel free to skip to the next chapter! =)
This is just a prologue. I figured I should have a transition chapter between where manga left off and where this story is picking up. Next chapter is much more interesting! Please stick with it!
As always, I do not own these characters! They are the great invention of Rumiko Takahashi. (Well I guess I own whoever I decide to create, but you get the idea.)
The clouds overhead blocked any hint of light, every inch of sky a dark gray. No rain came, but the overcast sky touched every living thing with a breath of gloom. The bright wildflowers Rin had picked for the grave seemed dulled by the mourning of the surrounding people. Next to her stood Kagome and Sango, both donning simple dark grey kimono for the occasion as she had done.
Thunder rumbled overhead, yet still no water fell from the sky. The village priest stood at the top of the hill, reading the sacred mantra before the people below. A fire was lit, and the grass setting where Kaede's body lay was set ablaze. Warm tears started to slide Rin's cheeks, though she couldn't tell where they stemmed from.
Not for grief. Kaede-sama had lived a full life.
Not for sadness. Kaede-sama was in a better place now, right?
Rin felt a gentle hand on her shoulder. She looked up to see Kagome hovering nearby, tentatively regarding Rin with an inviting expression.
"Remember that you're welcome to stay with us if you'd like."
"Kaede-sama said that she would provide for Rin," Rin said, glancing down at the grass. "And Rin trusts Kaede. But… thank you."
Even if that hadn't been the case, Rin wouldn't have intruded upon Kagome and Inuyasha anyway. They were expecting a child, and she wouldn't be the cause of any more trouble for them. At the age of 12, Rin would have to learn to be self-sufficient.
Kagome and the others turned and walked away, leaving behind the smoke and ash of a once beloved miko. Rin's feet felt tied down with bricks and she stood there with the remains of the funeral.
For six years, Rin had been under the study of Kaede, being trained to make medicinal potions for the villagers. She had shown no natural powers of a miko like Kagome, but she could make cures for the ailments of people who came in need. Most likely, the next step she would take would to train under Kagome now, and perhaps retain her residence in the village where Kaede-sama had lived. That wasn't an unpleasant idea to her at all.
However, for the rest of that day, she would spend it with Sango and Miroku, helping Sango tend to the plethora of children which scurried around the village and forest in hunt of something new.
"Betcha can't catch me!" yelled Asa as she darted off amongst the trees.
"Oh yes I can!" Rin called after her.
Sango's youngest, Hiroshi, only three, scrambled to keep up the pace.
"Wait… For… me…!" he panted. Rin slowed down to allow him time to catch up, and then let him climb on her back. "Let's get her!"
"Charrrrge!" Hiroshi shouted the battle cry proudly and Rin found herself laughing.
Is laughter still possible after loss?
She chased the sad thoughts away and let the happiness of one day wash over her before letting any mourning set in.
That night as she lay awake on her futon, a few tears dampened Rin's sheets. Kaede was the closest thing she had ever had to a mother since she was five, and now that was gone. First, her protector Sesshomaru had left her; now, her beloved caretaker as well? Her life was forever in a constant state of flux.
Lying here alone now, Rin knew she had been lying to herself. She did feel grief for the passing, but she had determined she would not let the sadness take up residence in her heart. Kaede would want her to be happy still, so that was her new goal.
As the comforting hands of sleep pulled Rin in, she could have sworn she heard a slight thump on the roof, but she was exhausted emotionally and physically, and let dreams pull her in without a second thought to the outside noise.
The next morning, Rin awoke with slightly swollen eyes and a bad case of bed head. She stretched and yawned, then looked outside. The sun was barely touching the horizon and the sky was just beginning to glow with the beginning of another day. Rin decided it was late enough that she could get up without others being overly concerned about her state of mind.
She pulled on some work clothes that would suffice for the time being and stepped onto the soft grass. The cool morning breeze felt nice on her skin and refreshed her foggy brain. Rin went around the side of the house to get a cool sip of water. She was filling a bucket when she heard a familiar thud on the ground behind her. Rin whirled around, spilling all of the water as she did so.
Her eyes widened as she took in the silver-haired, golden-eyed figure looming before her. Magenta marks and a purple crescent rested upon his face, his eyes shining fiercely with permanent iciness. Rin's breath caught in her throat, and her voice came out as a whisper
It had been only a few months since he had visited her last, but it was the first time in years that she had seen his face this close up. When he had come by the village, he simply dropped off a present such as a kimono and left without a sound. Rin had known he watched over her, but he was no more present than a shadow; as soon as she had turned to catch a glimpse, he was gone. When she was smaller, he might let her hug him in thanks for the gift, but then the days when he would allow her to touch him passed, as did the days when he would let her see him until he was like the wind; a presence she could feel but never see.
"Rin," he stated in his monotone voice.
She remained there stunned for a few moments until she couldn't control the emotion welling up inside of her any longer. Rin dropped the bucket, threw her arms around him, and began to cry.
Sesshomaru looked down at the girl in mild confusion. Why were salty drops of water spilling from her eyes? Was she saddened by his coming?
"Why do you cry?"
"Rin cries," she sniffled, "because Rin is happy… to see Sesshomaru-sama..."
Human emotions would never make sense to him.
"If you are to live in my residence, you must learn to speak and act with propriety and honor. This means you must not refer to yourself in the third person, Rin."
Rin looked up at him blinking away the water from her eyes. "W-what?" Her mind was still circling around the words "live in my residence."
Then, Jaken popped out of the bushes, beating back several demon birds which were pecking at his head with his staff.
"Sesshomaru-samaaaaaaaa! Why did not you wait for me? Ah-Un ran off without me, the useless beast! I told you tha-" but Jaken was stopped mid-ramble when Rin crashed into him with a hug.
"Jaken-sama!" She squeezed the imp in a tight embrace. Even though he hadn't always been the kindest to her, she had still missed the tiny demon.
"R-Rin! G-gerroffame!" Jaken choked.
"Why is Rin… I mean… Why am I to live with Sesshomaru-sama now?" Rin mumbled after Jaken cast her off him.
Sesshomaru's eyebrows raised fraction of a centimeter, hardly discernible to anyone's notice. "Does this proposition displease you?"
Rin slowly shook her head. "Of course not… milord."
"Then be prepared with your possessions by next morning's light. We shall depart for the Western Lands."
And then he was gone.
Rin's hands shook the entire time she was packing the few items precious items she owned, most of them gifts from Sesshomaru: six beautiful and intricately-detailed kimono, two whale bone combs from the southern seas, an assortment of bright yukata, and a dagger, hand crafted by demons. She delicately placed each treasure into the small wooden trunk that rested on the opposite wall of hut. Rin sighed as she looked around at the one-roomed home. It had once been full of life, with Kaede tending to the injured or with Sango and Miroku's four children leaping around the hut causing destruction of all kinds. Now, it was empty except for the small baskets of dried herbs which lined the walls.
Kaede-sama had left. And, after tonight, so would she.
Rin's reverie broke at the sound of footsteps at the threshold. She turned to see Kagome standing in the entryway of the hut with a sad smile on her face.
"Ah! Kagome-san, it's nice to see you," Rin said with a small bow.
Kagome glanced around the hut and saw the open trunk filled with Rin's items.
"Taking you away so soon, is he?" Kagome let out a half-hearted laugh.
"H-how… how did you know? Rin was about to come see you to tell you the news…"
Kagome took a deep breath, then sighed. "Sesshomaru came to Inuyasha yesterday after the funeral. One of his human villages is in need of a healer, and you are obviously an excellent choice. He and Inuyasha agreed that you would be best off under his care from now on. I came to ask you, though, what you want." Kagome put her hands on Rin's shoulder.
"Where would you like to live? Inuyasha and I," Kagome paused for a second and then let out a small laugh. "Well, I at least would be happy to have you live with us now."
Rin took a step back and then smiled at Kagome. "Rin would like to be of use, and to live with Sesshomaru-sama."
Kagome returned the smile, and then stood up and hugged Rin.
"Remember that you can always come back to us, okay?" Rin nodded against the folds of Kagome's haori.
"Will Rin be able to visit Kagome?"
And with that, Kagome left Rin to finish her packing. Loyal to his word, Sesshomaru returned at the break of dawn to take Rin and her belongings, and so she was to live at his estate for the next six years.
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