Illumination Chapter Nine
"Um, excuse me? I wasn't told about a dancing teacher." Kagome just stared at him from her seat, he was definitely…larger than life in that outfit.
"Oh? And Sesshomaru is usually so painstakingly well organized…you must have his head in a whirl. About time the young brat found himself a woman, and not a bad looking one. If the lovely didn't get one soon I was thinking about pursuing him myself – don't worry though I'm not the jealous type." Byakuya winked and walked closer and apparently had no issues with invading personal space as he leaned down and started to pick Kagome up til she jumped to her feet herself. "There you go dear, you can walk, that will make learning to dance much easier, turn for me."
He was making an exaggerated turning motion with a finger and Kagome stared another moment before turning slowly around. Frowning slightly as he started clucking his tongue.
"Oh dear, you need a lot of work, no time to waste. What sort of outfit is that? Did Nadia actually leave that for you to wear? Horrific, where is the closet?" Byakuya shook his head, jumping from one topic to the next so quickly Kagome was having trouble following everything. She just pointed at the closet. He went right over and started looking through, nodding or shaking his head until he finally pulled out a dress with a short skirt. "This. You need something open for dancing, put this on. Hurry up now…I don't need lovely telling me I'm not giving him his money's worth. I expect you to be ready tomorrow before I get here."
Kagome took the dress and stepped into the bathroom to change, not sure what to think. Dancing lessons? Well it made sense now that she'd had a little time to think about it. Sesshomaru had wanted her to attend a ball, it was logical she'd be expected to know how to dance. She was excited though, it was something she'd always watched and wanted to learn.
And if the flamboyant teacher slash slave driver had anything to say about it she would. Once the lesson started his friendly attitude was replaced by a high pitched taskmaster. It didn't matter to him that it was Kagome's first day, he had her practicing turns and steps until her legs ached from the effort. Once she got it right he would praise her but if she then made mistakes he would get immediately cross. Apparently she danced 'like a twenty tentacled octopus' which Kagome assumed meant she was clumsy. When she tried to point out he could be nicer he had told her 'I am nice, but I'm also honest, if you stop failing then I can't point it out.'
Kagome had grit her teeth, as much as she wanted to say something it would have just been an argument and that wouldn't have helped her at all. She didn't have time to waste arguing with the guy…by the end of the day she did feel more well informed though she wanted to scream when he made her do more exercises and stretching. She wanted to cry when he told her she needed to start doing them three times a day; in the morning, after practice, and before bed.
"Byakuya, stop tormenting the poor girl…she's soaked with sweat." Nadia's sweet angelic voice brought Byakuya to a halt and Kagome was fairly certain she loved her tutor as much as her mother in that moment. "Kagome, go take a bath and we will begin lessons when you are prepared."
"Nadia darling, it's been too long. I haven't seen you since…"
Kagome closed the door, letting them catch up and more than happy to escape her 'dancing teacher' who she was convinced Sesshomaru chose to double as a tormentor. When she heard him clicking his tongue outside she winced and started the water – she had only known him for a day and she abhorred that sound. She couldn't linger for long like her aching muscles wanted her to but the short break in hot water at all was welcome.
Thankfully by the time she got out the misery inducing teacher had left and Kagome wanted to hug Nadia. "You know him, is he always like that?"
"Byakuya?" Nadia asked curiously, glancing at the door as if looking after her fellow part demon then back at Kagome. "He is strict but one of the best. He has a number of records and for the last several years he's been the personal instructor of most winners of official competitions. However, if you are well, we should begin."
Kagome frowned a bit as they started over the dishes again, she had hoped for something new, but she guessed she had to master one thing to move to the next. Today wasn't as fun as yesterday, Nadia quickly started to sound more like Byakuya. Posture was another of the things she stressed and despite how tired her body was already Kagome was expected to keep a straight back at all times while seated or standing – slouching was unacceptable for an escort. She should be alert and wakeful without a hint of any tiredness no matter what she felt like.
After dishes they went back over table manners then moved on to forms of address, of which there were a lot of rules. That Kagome struggled with more than the dining. It was a lot of work, they hadn't even started on history but they discussed manners in non dinner settings and began to work on her curtsey; she was expected to make a lower bow based on rank. She'd made the mistake of asking how she could tell and heard and earful about how she would have to memorize many signs as well as pictures for the local people of importance. That was her least favorite part - her legs were protesting their existence by the time her hours with her first teacher ended but she had to spend more time bending. She was told that she needed to work on appearing more graceful just before her tutor left. Kagome groaned as she leaned on the door after Nadia left – could she really endure two months of this?
Glancing at the clock she only had twenty minutes before dinner and therefore Sesshomaru's return to her room. She let out a second groan and moved to change again…how they kept her with so many different and clean clothes she had learned that afternoon when people came in to deliver things while Nadia was going over rules with her. Once she would have loved the idea of new fancy clothes of her own all the time, but now she resented them because she had to change so much as the day pressed on.
Today's dress was a deep red with a skirt that fanned outward and fell to just above her knees, it was a lot like the dancing dress she'd worn which didn't earn it any points from the irritated young woman. She just picked it up and went to get dressed, putting her hair up again since she hadn't had a chance to wash it properly that afternoon. She tied a ribbon into it that matched the dress and put on some earrings. It was sort of absurd that just for sitting around she was expected to wear all of this – Sesshomaru had money to waste apparently.
She put on the jewelry last, it was a necklace with the royal insignia, she wasn't too happy about it but Nadia had insisted wearing it would be fine. A trio of cherry blossoms each within a hexagon – the Hanaka family chest – the ruling family of the entire country whose leader was one of the full demons. Kagome had to assume then that Sesshomaru was related to the royal family and wasn't just a high ranking noble. She was nervous looking at the pendant sparkling innocently on her chest. Illegally wearing or flying the royal crest was punishable by death. Her life was always on the line lately though, she wondered if she was just getting used to it.
She'd barely sat down when the knock came and she was forced to stand again, wincing at her aching muscles, this up and down was going to kill her. Sesshomaru stepped in as he had the past two days and allowed the staff past him with the trays of food. She felt her mouth start watering, she'd skipped lunch thanks to Byakuya's extreme workout and she hadn't eaten well since her kidnapping. Her body was more than ready to eat now.
"Good evening Lord Sesshomaru." She said, trying not to stare at the food she instead focused on her tasks. "I hope your day went well."
"Mmm." Sesshomaru remarked, focusing on Kagome a moment. "You seem cheerful this evening."
"I'm glad to see you my lord," She replied, it was canned but this was the sort of behavior he wanted her to learn. She'd rather have skipped dinner and slept but Kagome didn't have much choice but to play along.
"Of course you are." The smirk that came to his face told her he didn't believe her act. "The day was better than normal. Good news came in from the south, there was finally rain which should do much to remedy a lot of suffering happening there. Also, my work load should be lightening in another week or two assuming there are no other disasters in the country so it will give us more time to work together."
"That's great, that will help the people there a lot." Kagome's words were much more genuine this time, she'd heard of the drought and knew it had been hard on people. This was the first time she realized Sesshomaru worked somehow with the people, heard him caring about them. Perhaps he actually did a job after all, or wasn't as horrible as she feared? Certainly he frightened her but in that moment he'd seemed more human than demon for the first time.
She swallowed as he reached over and picked up the pendant around her neck to look at it critically, looking it over and then placing it back on her chest. As usual his being so close was intimidating; there was a surreal aspect to his presence that made her go quiet as her heart started to race.
"Nadia is a clever one." Sesshomaru remarked, glancing up to Kagome's face and considering her features curiously since he hadn't paid her face much attention before now. The manner in which she constantly blushed and yet didn't back down from staring at him he actually enjoyed. For as irritating as her behavior could become she was by no means an average escort. Her rough around the edges reactions made her difficult to predict. To some degree she was fun.
"Se…Lord Sesshomaru, is something wrong?" She corrected herself, a sign she did learn quickly, her nervousness was one of the emotions she jumped to when she wasn't being angry. "If the necklace offends you I can take it off."
"Why would my houses sigil offend me?" He asked, amused at the way such a simple question made her squirm. When Nadia gave Kagome the jewelry she must have known what it was. Known what was implied. Kagome hadn't realized then who he was and only his family name. "You do know who I am don't you?"
She looked a little as if she wanted to melt away; he certainly preferred this reaction to her aggressive behavior. "I only learned your family name today, because of the jewelry…so no."
"Yet you aren't aware of my title. I imagine that explains a lot as to how you treated me before now." Sesshomaru stated thoughtfully, amused at the way she took a step back and wrung her hands. "Don't concern yourself, if I was going to hurt you for your insults I would have done so already. Let us eat."
"Um…" Kagome blinked as he stepped away and moved to the table. "but…"
"Yes?" He glanced up at her as she finally stepped after him to remove the trays the way she was supposed to – she would do the food rules right if nothing else – she was determined of that. Then her stomach growled at the smell of the pasta being served and she glanced away before sitting down, glad he didn't remark on her bodily noises.
"I just…if your title is different and I don't know it I will not be certain how to properly train to address you." Kagome remarked, it was a decent excuse, she was curious as well.
Sesshomaru picked up the glass of wine the workers had poured before they left and swirled it before taking a sip, thoughtful. Kagome mirrored the behavior, her nose wrinkling slightly at the taste of the wine – she didn't drink and even if there wasn't much of a taste of alcohol she could still tell.
"In appropriate settings you would call me 'your grace', though I prefer lord or lordship at most times." Sesshomaru remarked when Kagome wasn't drinking, the way her eyes widened he knew she hadn't realized just how high his rank was.
"You…you're the crowned Prince…" Kagome was horrified…she'd slapped him and thrown eggs in his face…she'd yelled and frustrated him and even tried to blackmail him…she'd angered him to the point that she felt it through the blood he'd given her. All of the above she could die for so many times she didn't care to count them. She swallowed and got silent; uncertain what else she could say.
"I'm glad you noticed." Sesshomaru replied lightly, picking up his fork. "Don't let my station disturb you overly, my intentions remain the same."
"Wait…if you're the prince then Inuyasha…" Kagome's eyes widened further, she was starting to wonder if they wouldn't fall out of her skull. "…he would be a Prince as well…you want me to…"
"Go along with the plan…in which you do nothing wrong. Can you imagine this realm if someone like Inuyasha was allowed to be in charge of things?" Sesshomaru's question did hit home for Kagome…it was definitely something she couldn't imagine. For as much as Sesshomaru bothered her she now knew he actually cared about the realm…that he worked and tried to help people in need. That was far more than she would ever expect from a rapist…
"I will. We'll get him." Kagome said with a sudden fervor that earned her a perked brow. Sesshomaru left it at that however and began eating which allowed her to follow suit. If this would get her motivated he wouldn't argue whatever had gotten her interested. Instead he ate quietly, and today she wasn't nearly as bashful as to eating, she was digging in at a rate that only a commoner could. She would need to be taught to pace herself…
"I presume that you worked today judging from your appetite, how was Byakuya?" He asked before taking a small bite of his own, watching as she chewed as quickly as she could and washed it down with the wine – which she was drinking faster than was wise for someone that didn't drink regularly. He could have pointed it out but he saw no reason not to allow her to experience a hangover.
"Odd, he's really strict." Kagome commented once she'd managed to get a few swallows down to clear her mouth. "I think he's a good teacher but it's bizarre the way he can go from so friendly to frightening in a moment if you make a mistake."
"I have never cared for him but he was the best available that I could trust to be discreet." Sesshomaru answered, curious himself why he was having a full conversation with her. It wasn't as though she needed to know these things, or speaking of them helped her training…he refocused. "Once we are finished I would like to take you up the the roof and work with you on magic. I'll be leaving a few texts here tomorrow that I would like you to read, they discuss the topic on a greater detail than I can give in short lessons and might help you get a better idea. However, I do not want you to practice unless I am here."
"All righ…I mean Yes my Lord." Kagome caught herself again, she was pacing herself a little more than how they'd started since he'd asked his sudden question while her mouth was full. He let her eat however, humans required sustenance much more than demon's and he didn't want her to make herself ill. Having a human was a lot like having a horse, you had to feed and water them at regular intervals – make certain they were trained and kept…
He decided it best not to share the observation; he could already assume what she would say. Instead he finished slowly, allowing her to do the same before he got up with her swiftly following him as he exited the room and began to walk toward the elevator. "It is expected of you to walk behind me."
"Oh, sorry my Lord." Kagome stated immediately, falling back a step. She didn't like these rules but it was the way of things – this was the Prince of the realm…Kagome couldn't continue to anger him like she had so far. They were on the same side…she had to learn to accept these rules so she could help. She could help the realm if she aided Sesshomaru in the removal of Inuyasha – the idea of that monster in control of everything was enough to inspire her to keep her mouth shut.
They rode up in silence and stepped directly out onto the roof. It was strange seeing the city from so high – she'd never been up this high and looked down on the city. "It's like another horizon of stars…" She remarked as she stared. Despite the light pollution even the sky was brighter from this high over the sparkling city below, it was breathtaking.
"You have been quite sheltered Kagome…this sort of view wouldn't impress a royal escort." Sesshomaru commented, pulling a candle from his inner pocket and holding it out to her. "You are welcome to feel how you will but you must learn not to wear your emotions on your sleeve so easily if you want this plan to work."
"Right…" Kagome nodded, glancing one more time around and then accepting the candle he offered her. It seemed so sad that people couldn't appreciate beauty that was right in front of them – or refused to for the sake of propriety. She couldn't focus on that right now however, she had to concentrate. "I…don't want to think about the attack…it didn't help before. I just…imploded the lamp. Isn't there something else I could try? How do you activate magic?"
"The method I use wouldn't work for you." Sesshomaru said without pause, not even thinking about it. Then contemplated her quietly a moment – he was even more surreal in the moonlight – the supernatural ambience around him seemed somehow heightened by the mercury illumination reflecting off his platinum hair. It was as if he had a glow all his own…even the wheat colored gaze seemed brighter than when they were inside.
"Focus on the candle, think about wanting it lit and picture it as best you can." He instructed and Kagome nodded, glad to get her mind off of thinking about how good looking he was. Focus was great advice. She looked at the candle and tried to picture it lighting the way he asked her, imagining the fire, the warmth, the small scent of smoke. She could picture it well enough but nothing happened and she looked back at him.
"I think I'm broken." Kagome remarked, though she was also frightened, she didn't want to make the candle explode like she had the glass the day before. "I can picture it but it doesn't come to life."
"Picturing it isn't enough, you have to will it, force it into existence. Making your will into reality is the core of magic. You've only activated it before this as part of a fear mechanism, now you have to learn to control it. The best way to do that is to picture other times you've called it out and utilize those memories as a catalyst." Sesshomaru explained. He wasn't a bad teacher but she didn't want to think about when she'd nearly been raped and killed.
"Well, I don't really want to think about that. I'd rather just not use magic. You wanted me for your plan without it so I'd guess you don't need it." Kagome replied with a shake of her head. "I...don't want to remember that. Can't I think about last night instead?"
"When you imploded the lamp? I don't think that would be wise." Sesshomaru retorted. "Close your eyes. Picture the candle and lighting it up. Focus on it as you did a moment ago."
Kagome gave him a skeptical glance then followed his instructions, closing her eyes and feeling the wax in her hand, picturing the candle in her mind and imagining it coming to life. Then suddenly she felt her dress unzip and fire flared to life on the wick a moment before she pulled away from where Sesshomaru had moved behind her. The fresh shadows from the now burning candle left him seeming much more sinister than only a few moments ago. "What are you doing!?"
"Finding another focus," Sesshomaru remarked with the smug expression she was growing to despise. He nodded toward the flickering light in her hand. "It worked…"
"That's not the point…" Kagome hissed, trying to keep her dress on while she held onto the candle without getting burned. Finally she dropped the candle to the ground to reach behind her. Her mouth going dry when he stepped forward and caught her hands, what the hell was wrong with him?
"Magic is difficult; it requires you to be in a place outside of what is normal for you. Being on edge with something you feel strongly about gives you an appropriate focus when you begin. You loathe the idea of nakedness, so the shock of my action drew out the power and activated it as you were focused on your task before I did so." Sesshomaru explained, he was holding her hands lightly but she knew any struggle was fruitless so she settled for her go-to; glaring. "Now, light the candle again."
It had gone out when she let it fall and was sitting on its side a couple of feet away from them where it'd rolled to a pause. Kagome glanced at it then back at Sesshomaru. She shook her head, fruitlessly pulling at his hands, "It's not that easy…you make it a little difficult to concentrate…"
"One must learn to perform under pressure." Sesshomaru remarked without missing a beat, tugging the zipper a little lower. "Light it!"
Fire flickered to life behind him, it was weak at first then it kept it's life despite being on it's side. Kagome's eyes were wide, dilated as much from the low illumination as the fearfulness. Still, it worked, more quickly than he'd honestly expected it to, was she such a chaste creature? He supposed it made his work easier.
"Good, now put it out." Sesshomaru glanced at her face; she was clearly angry and not bothering to hide it. Her willfulness was amusing, it was unlike the majority he dealt with; even other full demons often only offered him respect and bowed to his commands. She still feared him like the rest but she only sometimes let it color her behavior…quickly she was becoming quite the interesting pet. A wild mare...
The fire died immediately when he made a slight pull and he smirked, at least he'd found a place to start her. "Now, if you think that you can work with these memories as opposed to those of Inuyasha tomorrow we'll begin with your clothing in tact. For now I think we're done."
Kagome jumped as he pulled the zipper back up her back in a fluid motion and walked toward the elevator. She grit her teeth as she followed him, keeping her silent wishes to herself. "Too bad I can't light your face on fire...pervert..."
Heh, Sesshomaru remains such a jerk. Still, his attitude amuses me so I'm enjoying this story more than I probably should. Keep in mind he's not doing these things just to be an ass, there is a purpose to his dickishness.
To my reviewers:
LovelyLys – I don't like Jakotsu or really the band of seven in general so I don't tend to use them.