MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD! DO NOT READ IF YOU DON'T LIKE THEM!
Okay, so we know that the last chapter of the Inuyasha manga takes place three years after Naraku was defeated. Kagome lived in her own time as a normal girl during that time, and graduated high school successfully. She realized she missed Inuyasha desperately and so returned to the Feudal Era—for good this time. She discovers that Miroku and Sango are happily married with three children, and that Inuyasha had stayed in Kaede's village, missing her equally as much.
The manga final chapter suggests that they have a close relationship, but it doesn't explicitly show it to be a romantic one (no climactic kissing scene or marriage sequence or anything!), so one can only assume that Inuyasha and Kagome are still taking it slowly and tiptoeing around their feelings. Well, that's my interpretation. Anyway, Kagome begins acting as an apprentice priestess under Kaede and is being taught about healing herbs and whatnot.
One other interesting thing that the manga final chapter reveals is that when Kagome comes back to the past to live with Inuyasha, Rin is actually living with Kaede instead of with Sesshoumaru. Inuyasha explains it as "practice" for Rin to know what living with humans is like, so that when she's old enough she'll be able to make a well-informed choice of where she thinks she belongs. Sesshoumaru is described as visiting often and giving Rin gifts. It appears that Sesshoumaru and Inuyasha have finally come to terms with the fact that they are brothers and shouldn't try to kill each other every waking moment, but by no circumstances do they seem chummy with each other. Our favorite demon lord appears in the manga final chapter only long enough for Kagome to shout "Hey, Big Brother!" at him, which earns her a most disgruntled look from both Sesshoumaru and Inuyasha.
Anyway, that is what you need to know. Now focus your lens back to my fiction, know that I do not own the Inuyasha-verse or its characters, and enjoy.
FORTUNE'S FOOL: CHAPTER ONE
"Love looks not with the eyes but with the mind."
A Midsummer Night's Dream (Act I, Scene i)
Kagome Higurashi smiled, sucked in the sweet morning air into her lungs, and sighed contently. The sun had been climbing higher in the sky slowly, working hard on its ascent, as did the young priestess. She had been out in her herb garden since sunrise, tending to her plants. It was nearly fall, and the end of the blooming season for most of her medicinal flowers. Soon it would be time to pick as many as she could, then dry and store them carefully as Kaede had taught her, so that they could be used during the harsh winter months. Some herbs could last years if stored properly, and others, if crushed into medicinal wine, actually got more effective with age.
The young woman spotted an out of place color in her garden from the corner of her eye. She glanced towards it. A stray wildflower had found its way into the fertile dirt and bloomed. Each of its delicate petals was its own work of art. They were vibrant purple in the center, but faded to a delicate rose-pink near their edges. Kagome smiled at the tiny, beautiful rebel, but then remembered her duty as a priestess. She couldn't allow other plants to invade her herb garden, lest her crop be deprived of the nutrients it needed to flourish. Any outsider, whether a weed or a beautiful blossom like this one, was to be removed immediately.
Kagome leaned forward and reached for the wildflower, the wide, white sleeve of her kimono drooping heavily towards the ground. She was careful not to dip the clean fabric in the dirt as she gently plucked the flower from the ground. The miko cupped the head of the flower in her hands, and put her nose to its petals. It smelled just as sweet as it looked.
Suddenly, Kagome sensed a change in the air. A demonic presence was nearby! The young priestess discarded the flower on the ground and reached around her back for her bow and an arrow. She cocked the arrow and aimed it towards the nearby forest, where she felt the strongest resonance of demonic power.
A figure suddenly appeared from the green-grey shadows beneath the trees, as if it materialized from the air itself. Kagome gasped as she realized her mistake. She lowered her bow and smiled sheepishly.
"Oh, sorry Onii-san," she called across the short distance. "I guess I'm still a little on guard about demon auras around the village."
Her explanation earned no reply. Instead, the tall, white-clad demon scowled unpleasantly at her term for him. He disliked being called "Onii-san," ["Older Brother" in Japanese] but Kagome certainly wasn't going to call him "Lord" like little Rin did. That was just silly. She no longer considered Sesshoumaru her enemy, and with Rin studying under Keade along with her the two had become like sisters.
There's also my relationship with Inuyasha, Kagome thought as she blinked under the gaze of the demon lord. So Sesshoumaru is kind of like my older brother-in-law…or at least he would be if Inuyasha and I got married. Sesshoumaru would be family.
It didn't seem that he thought of her the same way. The miko twitched uncomfortably under the harsh stare of the demon lord. Finally, Sesshoumaru broke his piercing gaze and with a swift turn of his silver-haired head turned and approached the house in which Kaede and Rin lived.
Another visit, Kagome thought to herself. Doesn't look like he brought her gifts this time though.
The miko watched as Sesshoumaru strode up to the small wooden structure and sauntered in as if he owned the place. Kagome shook her head, gathered her basket filled with clippings of fresh flowers and herbs under her arm, and then headed back to the home she shared with Miroku, Sango, and their three children.
Living with the monk and his family proved both a blessing and a curse, at times. Although she loved living with her dear friends, and absolutely adored their three little children, Kagome was beginning to feel a little bit crowded. She found herself wishing she had a small home of her own sometimes.
Well, not alone, Kagome mused with a small smile.
The miko felt a hot blush creep up her cheeks as she carried her basket back towards the home of Sango and Miroku. She'd only been living full-time in the Feudal Era for five months, but Inuyasha had been leaving subtle clues about his intentions. There weren't many nights that she returned from the fields and he wasn't waiting for her atop the roof of Sango and Miroku's house. And when that wasn't the case, there was always a freshly plucked bunch of flowers waiting in Inuyasha's stead.
It's funny how his tough-guy exterior disappeared so quickly, the priestess thought. Inuyasha's such a softie nowadays.
As Kagome rounded the bend and approached the quaint little home resting at the edge of the village. She grinned happily. Sure enough, there was Inuyasha, perched anxiously atop the roof, looking bored. The half-demon stared off into the heart of the village, but then caught the miko's scent on the wind, and he turned to glance at her. His yellow eyes lit up when he caught sight of Kagome. The young priestess's breath caught in her throat, but she returned the expression generously, and stepped blissfully towards him.
Sesshoumaru observed Rin curiously as she shuffled busily around the small hut. His former ward had been tirelessly learning the ways of her new human companions, and she was eager to show him a new skill each time he visited her.
However, it seemed this time Rin was having trouble with her task. The girl, now nine years old, tore through the small home in search of something. Kaede finally turned away from her table, where she had been busily chopping up herbs.
"Rin, what are ye looking for?" inquired the old woman.
The girl kicked her foot into the floor, obviously frustrated. "I can't find the special tea mixture I made for Lord Sesshoumaru," she admitted.
"Ah, I see. Did ye not store them in a safe place?" Kaede asked, gesturing with her finger towards a small jar hidden deep in the corner.
Rin's gaze followed the path pointed out by the old priestess's finger, and then smiled and let out a little squeal of delight when she saw the jar. She rushed forward and clutched it in her hands, and then continued rushing around the hut as Sesshoumaru watched.
"Kaede's been teaching me the art of tea-making, Lord Sesshoumaru," the girl explained. "This is my first batch I made, and I wanted to save it for when you visited."
Sesshoumaru responded with silence, but regarded the girl with kind eyes and a nod of his head. Rin grinned brightly and then continued preparing her tea: boiling water in a kettle, seeping the tea leaves, and pouring the steaming liquid into a delicate ceramic cup. She remembered that Sesshoumaru didn't eat or drink the same as humans did, so she only poured a cup for herself and one for Kaede.
Sessshoumaru's eyes wandered around the small wooden structure as Rin gently set down her still-steaming cup of tea and carefully sipped it. It was strange how humans needed so many possessions to live. There were jars stacked across one wall, herbs hanging to slowly dry across another wall, and bundles of clothing set randomly about. The demon lord's eyes stopped, however, when he spied something unusual in the corner closest to him.
There were several, multi-colored volumes of books piled up in the corner. Sesshoumaru stared at them, astonished. Finally, he reached out and grasped one of them, studying it closely. The demon lord read the title of the volume he'd picked up. Elegantly written, gold-leaf letters decorated the vermillion front cover:
The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet
By William Shakespeare
The demon lord scowled at the book. He'd never heard of such a person—William Shakespeare—or one with a more unusual name, for that matter. Finally, Sesshoumaru spoke up: "Rin, whose is this?"
Rin glanced up from her cup of tea, blinking. She spotted the book resting in the demon's hand and said, "Oh, those belong to Kagome-chan. She brought them here from the world beyond the well, but since there's not much room left in Sango and Miroku's house, we let her keep them here until she has a home of her own."
These belong to the miko? Sesshoumaru thought, his brow furrowing. But how is that possible?
Sesshoumaru ran the edges of his nails across the surface of the book's cover, careful not to scratch it. How could a simple priestess like Kagome able to possess not only one book—but many of them? The demon lord gazed back at the pile in the corner. Books were not only rare, but extremely expensive and labor-intensive to produce. Each book took years for the scribe to write in perfect calligraphy, and a very skilled binder to carefully glue and sew all the pages together. Only the most powerful lords and ladies could afford them, and they were among the most cherished and a valuable possession when one was fortunate enough to own one. Yet this miko, who didn't even have the means to construct a home, had piles of them!
Perhaps the miko has received a generous inheritance, Sesshoumaru rationalized, but he still found it hard to believe.
The demon lord set the first book down and grabbed another from the pile. This one was a significantly larger volume—much thicker and heavier—and had the title "An Illustrated History of Japan" sprawled across the front, along with an image of a white flag with a large red sphere in the center. Sesshoumaru leafed through the pages, and studied the images inside. Some of them were incredibly lifelike—almost as if the artist had captured the subjects and trapped them within the pages of the book. Many contained subjects that the demon didn't recognize—odd contraptions that looked like armored wagons without beasts to draw them, strange, pointed shapes that were bursting into the sky with long trails of smoke following them, and long, metal objects that humans seemed to use to point at each other during battle.
Sesshoumaru turned back to the first book and cracked it open to the first pages. Unlike the other, this one did not have pictures. Perfectly scribed text sprawled across the page:
Two households, both alike in dignity,
In fair Verona, where we lay our scene,
From ancient grudge break to new mutiny,
Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean.
From forth the fatal loins of these two foes
A pair of star-cross'd lovers take their life;
Whole misadventured piteous overthrows
Do with their death bury their parents' strife.
The fearful passage of their death-mark'd love,
And the continuance of their parents' rage,
Which, but their children's end, nought could remove,
Is now the two hours' traffic of our stage;
The which if you with patient ears attend,
What here shall miss, our toil shall strive to mend.
"Rin," Sesshoumaru blurted abruptly, "what are these about and how did the miko come into possession of them?"
Rin sipped quietly from her cup, but then shook her head, frowning. "I couldn't tell you, Lord Sesshoumaru. I can't read them."
The demon lord's yellow eyes floated up to view the girl. "You cannot read this?"
Rin twitched uncomfortably as Sesshoumaru held up the book in his hand. "No, Sesshoumaru-sama. I can read and write my name, but nothing else."
Sesshoumaru returned the frown, and cast his eyes back down at the book in his hand. He supposed it shouldn't surprise him that Rin never learned how to read and write; after all, her family was killed when she was very young. She'd spent the time between then and meeting him as a stray child, and of course she'd never been instructed under his care. It struck the demon lord with a sense of disappointment in himself. He had been far from correct in thinking that spending time with an aging priestess would fully prepare Rin for a human life. She had to get a proper education.
If these volumes belong to the young miko… Sesshoumaru connected the puzzle pieces in his mind. Hastily, he shoved the volume in his hand into his sleeve and stood up.
Rin blinked at him, surprised. "Are you leaving so soon, Sesshoumaru-sama?"
"I must speak with the miko," the demon lord answered simply without turning his head. He strode straight out of the hut, sniffing the air. He caught Kagome's scent rather quickly, and headed towards the outskirts of the village.
"Here, Kagome," Inuyasha hopped gracefully off the roof and thrust a gigantic bundle of wildflowers into the miko's hands. "These are for you."
Kagome's eyes fluttered in embarrassment and astonishment, but she graciously accepted the bouquet. It was a bunch of the exact same kind of flower she'd just plucked out of her garden. She had thought one of the blooms was beautiful, but an entire bundle of them was absolutely breathtaking.
"I can't believe it," she whispered, using the tips of her finger to stroke the purpled-pink petals gently.
The half-demon's ears twitched with worry. "What? Don't you like them?"
"Oh, Inuyasha! I love them," Kagome beamed, hugging the bouquet to her chest. "I found one of these in my garden, and it almost killed me to have to pick it. They're so beautiful."
Inuyasha smiled, but rolled his shoulders, as if suffering from some discomfort, and he avoided glancing at her. He reminded Kagome of a boy cringing in the presence of a girl for the first time, but she'd been with Inuyasha too long for him to act this way towards her.
Kagome frowned disapprovingly. "What's wrong?"
The sudden question seemed to startle the half-demon, and his eyes darted around in search of an answer. A scarlet blush crept up his face slowly. Inuyasha must have felt his cheeks growing hot with it, for he turned away in attempt to hide his anxiousness. Finally, he stuttered out a response:
"Well, I-I've been thinking about asking you something," he said.
Inuyasha's eyes slide slowly up to meet hers, and they were wide and vulnerable. He almost looked at her as if he were frightened of her. Kagome didn't like it. What was he thinking anyway?
"What is this, a game?" she said impatiently. Then an arrow of fear and realization struck her heart. "Ohmigawd, you're not trying to break up with me, are you?!"
The half-demon's mood and demeanor shifted as quickly as waves on the ocean shore. He grimaced at the stunned miko, obviously taking offense. "Why in the world would you think that?!"
"Because you're acting weird!"
"I am not!" retorted Inuyasha. A serious look overcame his features, and the storm in his yellow eyes calmed. He sucked in a deep breath and locked eyes with the girl. "I wanted to ask you if you want me to build a home for you."
Kagome drew in a sharp breath. A million questions scurried hurriedly through her brain: A home? Was that it? Was that what all of his fussing was about? Was he serious? Did he even know how to build a home in the first place? Was she sure he wasn't trying to break up with her?
"Inuyasha, that's really sweet, but you don't have to…" she began, but she was cut off by Inuyasha's swift but shaky interjection.
"It's—actually—what I mean is…for me to build a home…for us," the half-demon let out a sigh of release along with the last word. He glanced up into Kagome's eyes, and waited.
Kagome's mouth hung open in shock. Was this Inuyasha's way of proposing or something? The miko stared at him, and the seconds seemed like hours as visions of a married life with Inuyasha littered her thoughts: Getting a beautiful traditional wedding, living in a space all their own, the pitter-patter of little children with locks of silver hair adorning their heads…
"Inuyasha, I…" Kagome began once more, but her miko senses snapped her out of her thought like a rubber band. A demonic presence was close—the same one she'd felt before.
The miko whirled around and was once again caught under the piercing gaze of Inuyasha's older brother. The demon must have been approaching both of them, but Kagome guessed that both she and Inuyasha had been too caught up in themselves to notice him…until now. More questions bounced around the inside of her skull.
Why is he here? Rin's not with him. She thought, angry to have her moment with Inuyasha interrupted. Then a horrible thought struck her, and she frowned. Did he hear what we were saying to each other?
Kagome heard a low growl vibrate the air behind her. Obviously, Inuyasha was none too pleased with his brother's inconvenient timing either. The half-demon pushed past her and stomped towards Sesshoumaru. The demon lord glanced away from Kagome and regarded Inuyasha with an annoyed face. The expression was just enough to keep Inuyasha from stepping too close to him.
"What do you want, Sesshoumaru?" Inuyasha demanded angrily, his hands balled up into fists.
Sesshoumaru's scowl melted into something that resembled amusement, and his eyes danced from his younger brother to Kagome and back again.
"I interrupted something," he said, sounding rather pleased with himself.
Kagome's eyes narrowed. Jerk…he did hear us!
Surprisingly, it seemed that Sesshoumaru had another agenda. His eyes flickered away from his half brother and once again settled on Kagome. The girl glared angrily back, but inside she was squirming like an insect being pinned onto a piece of cork, like they had to do in science class. Kagome resisted the urge to step away.
Inuyasha pressed forward, extending one of his fists towards the demon lord. "Yes, you did interrupt something," he confirmed with a furious snarl. "And I'd appreciate it if you'd butt out!"
"I must speak with the miko," Sesshoumaru said plainly, disregarding Inuyasha's temper. His eyes never left Kagome and gained intensity as his lips formed one last word: "Alone."
"What?! Over my dead body!" Inuyasha practically vibrated with rage.
"That can be arranged," replied the demon lord calmly with a crack of his knuckles.
"I'd like to see you try!"
"Same here, half-demon."
Kagome watched in horror as Inuyasha's right hand reached across his body for his sword. She needed to do something to stop the brothers from tearing each other to pieces right in front of her, but she felt frozen in place by Sesshoumaru's eyes. Finally, she broke free of the trance.
The miko's shout seemed to project both her voice and her body between the two brothers, and she placed a hand on each one's chest and attempted to push the two further apart. The strategy worked on Inuyasha, who yielded immediately to her touch, but Sesshoumaru stood as solid and resolute as a granite statue. His eyes lingered down to Kagome's invasive hand and stared at it with mild annoyance, but Kagome ignored it.
"You two are brothers; you should at least act like it!" she shouted.
Despite the bitterness crackling like electricity between the two demons, Kagome's words seemed to take affect. Inuyasha's hand slowly relaxed and released its hold of Tensusaiga, while Sesshoumaru acknowledged her with a slight nod and a grunt.
The miko withdrew her hands and apprehensively faced the demon lord. "What did you need to talk to me about?"
The demon lord glared at her for a hesitant second, but then yielded: "It's about Rin."
Sesshoumaru averted his gaze and shot daggers at Inuyasha with his eyes, but the half-demon remained rooted to the spot. The brothers both scowled at each other unpleasantly, while Kagome fidgeted nervously. She really didn't want this to accelerate to another clash between the two demons. Finally, Sesshoumaru let out a small, frustrated sigh.
"You are stubborn as usual, Inuyasha," the demon lord announced. He turned away but glanced over his shoulder towards Kagome one last time. "If my half-wit, half-demon brother will not leave us, then we will leave. Come if you wish to hear my request, miko."
Sesshoumaru began striding gracefully towards the woods adjacent to the house, his hair blowing gently in the breeze. Both Kagome and Inuyasha watched him with confusing in their eyes. The half-demon crossed his arms satisfactorily and grunted deep in his throat.
"Humph! Look at him, walking away from a fight," Inuyasha boasted proudly. "Who knew Sesshoumaru would ever do that?"
Kagome didn't turn her head to glance back, smiling, at Inuyasha. Instead she stared as the figure swathed in white silk disappeared between the trunks of the trees. She swallowed hard, and it felt like she had stones in her throat. Then she turned around to face Inuyasha.
"I have to talk to him," she announced plainly, anticipating the half-demon's disapproval. "If he came to talk to me about something about Rin, it has to be important."
"What? Alone?" cried out Inuyasha, gesturing wildly towards the woods. "Are you crazy, Kagome? What if he attacks you?"
"He won't attack me!"
"How can you be so certain? It's Sesshoumaru!"
"Yes, and you know as well as I that he's not like what he used to be! I know he's changed," Kagome insisted.
Inuyasha scoffed at the idea, and he shook his head adamantly. "No way, not unless I go with you!"
Kagome reached forward and clumsily wound her fingers around Inuyasha's own. His hand hung limply inside hers, and he glared at her as if she were betraying him just by considering the demon lord's demands. Kagome slowly raised her hands to her lips, and gently kissed each of Inuyasha's knuckles. She watched as the half-demon's ears twitched nervously, but his expression softened at her touch.
"Please," she pleaded softly. "Just let me find out what he wants."
Inuyasha's eyes darted from her face, to the woods, towards the sky, and back again. His lips were a tight line drawn across his face. Kagome could see that he was struggling inside. Suddenly, Inuyasha's hands gripped her tightly, and he stepped closer.
"On one condition," he breathed, and the gentle movement of air warmed the skin on Kagome's cheeks. "Answer my question first."
"Question? What question?" Kagome's brow furrowed and she blinked back at Inuyasha guiltily.
Inuyasha sighed, "Did you want me to build a home for us…to live together?"
Kagome's breath caught in her chest, and lips parted. She'd had so many vivid daydreams of this moment. Each one was enough to make her cheeks blush red and her eyes sparkle with tears of anticipated joy. Now that it had finally come…she felt the rest of the world slip away from under her feet.
Floating in a sea of tender bliss, Kagome found her voice. "Yes, Inuyasha, of course I want that," she whispered, her voice barely reaching past her lips. She smiled sheepishly. "I thought you'd never ask."
"I've wanted to ask you since you appeared from the well again five months ago, but I kept telling myself that I needed to let you adjust to living here. I didn't know if you were going to change your mind and go back," explained the half-demon softly. "I hoped five months was enough to convince you to stay forever…with me."
Kagome's trembling lips suddenly spread into an impossibly wide smile, and she swept Inuyasha into her arms and embraced him tightly. "Inuyasha, the answer is yes," she sighed contently. "I'm so happy."
"So am I. Thank you, Kagome," Inuyasha echoed, and then he gently tugged himself away from her grasp. "Now, you should go…before Sesshoumaru gets too far."
"Oh!" Kagome gasped. She'd almost forgotten about the demon lord's request with an audience for her. "Thanks, Inuyasha. I'll just be a minute."
Reluctantly, Inuyasha let the miko slip delicately from his arms, the smile on his face wavering when he no longer felt her touch. Kagome granted him a short kiss, and then spun around to rush after the demon lord.
Kagome felt the long grass and leaves softly crunch beneath her feet as she stepped into the shade of the forest. The air was sweet with the scent of wild flowers, and sunlight and shadow mingled in abstract shapes across the ground. Not far off, as tall and still as the trees around him, Sesshoumaru waited patiently. His back was turned, and he was gazing off into the distant forest somewhere. When he heard her approach, he turned his head and glanced at Kagome casually over his shoulder.
The young priestess stepped forward with a look of displeasure on her face; she was still a little annoyed at Inuyasha's brother for interrupting their tender moment. But the moment he looked at her, some of that annoyance dissolved. Sesshoumaru was no longer looking at her as if she were a bothersome insect that he could crush between his fingers. Instead, he eyed her with curiosity and confusion as she came to a stop just beyond and arm's length from him.
There was a beat of uncomfortable silence before Kagome realized that she would have to be the first to speak.
"So what is it, Sesshoumaru?" she asked slowly.
The demon lord's eyes regarded her and the space between them with indifference. His right hand rose slowly, slipping between the flowing folds of his left sleeve. From the voluminous pleats of fabric he produced a book and held it out to her. Kagome recognized the red cover and gold lettering immediately.
"Hey, that's mine!" she gasped, stepping forward to grasp the book from his hand. She traced the edges of the cover delicately with the tip of her finger, and then looked back at the silver-haired demon accusingly. "Where'd you get it, Sesshoumaru?"
Sesshoumaru promptly ignored her question. "Tell me something, miko. How does one so poor afford a luxury such as books?"
"What?" Kagome was perplexed for a moment, glancing back and forth between the kidnapped book and its abductor. "What do you mean?"
A flicker of annoyance returned to Sesshoumaru's eyes, but he gestured towards the book now in her hands. "Are you able to read such things as this?"
Kagome resisted the urge to point out to the demon lord that he had now ignored two of her own inquiries. She gritted her teeth. "Of course I can read them," she muttered. "Why else would I have them? Now why do you have one of them, Sesshoumaru?"
This time Sesshoumaru responded with merely a dissatisfied grunt. He looked off into the trees again, seemingly bored with her, despite the fact that it had been him who had requested her presence.
She sighed, exasperated, and glanced down at the book. "Romeo and Juliet," she mused. "Well, I'm glad you gave it back. This is one of my favorites. Have you read it?"
It occurred to Kagome only after she'd asked how genuinely stupid a question it was. William Shakespeare was born in the 1500's, and she had traveled back in time at least 500 years. More than likely, Shakespeare hadn't been born yet, and if he had, he would still be a child in a part of the world still unknown to most people in feudal Japan. There was simply no way Sesshoumaru could know or have read what would become the world's most famous tragic love story. She glanced up at the tall demon sheepishly.
"It's one of my books from the world-beyond-the-well," she explained, trying hard to mask her embarrassment. "We were all required to read this in school. But…what does this have to do with Rin?"
Sesshoumaru's serious gaze settled upon her once more. Once more, he fell silent.
"Sesshoumaru, I can't help her if you don't tell me what is going on," Kagome pleaded.
Finally, he relented with a sigh. "Under my guardianship, Rin did not receive any education. She does not know how to read…or write," he said calmly. "She must learn if she is going to live amongst the humans. She must have a teacher."
"Who—me?" Kagome squawked in a pitifully weak protest. "But—but—I've never taught anyone before!"
"Teach her as you were taught," Sesshoumaru instructed. "Unless you do not think you are up to the task, miko."
Kagome narrowed her eyes at the condescending way he spat out the last word, but she didn't dare say anything more. She also didn't dare ask Sesshoumaru what he might do for her in return. She was stuck. There was nothing left to do but agree.
"Alright, fine!" she cried. "I'll do it. But no more stealing my books, got that?"
The demon lord's face remained unchanged, but he nodded curtly, seemingly satisfied. He began to walk away, his long hair flowing out behind him. Kagome gawked at the visage of him floating slowly away from her, and after a hesitant moment, called after him.
Sesshoumaru paused, pivoted, and glanced over his shoulder yet again. He was silent. Waiting.
Kagome clutched the volume in her hands nervously. "Sesshoumaru, I'm not certain how you were taught in…in demon lord boarding school…or wherever, but before you walk away, we've got to agree upon a few things, because chances are the way I'll teach Rin will be different."
A silent moment hung between them yet again. Again, he was waiting.
"If I'm going to be Rin's teacher, we're going to have to set some ground rules," Kagome continued, her assertiveness growing stronger with every moment of the demon lord's continuing silence. "Number one: I'm her teacher, so I'll do the teaching my way. No telling me how to do the job. Number two: I'm going to teach her more than just reading and writing. She's got to learn math and other basics too. And Number three...you've got to know that this isn't something that will happen overnight. It will take a long time for Rin to learn to read or write simple sentences—and probably years before she'll be able to read something like this."
The priestess gestured towards the book, and then added: "And Number four: No more taking my books without my permission!"
Kagome shook the book for good measure as she finished her speech, feeling quite proud of herself, but still slightly jittery. She waited and stared at Sesshoumaru, eager for her declarations to meet his approval. The demon lord narrowed his yellow eyes, his smooth face creased and formed a slight grimace, and Kagome contemplated her chances of survival if she had seriously displeased him. However, instead of lunging forward to rip her to shreds for her insolence, Sesshoumaru dipped his head.
"Your conditions are acceptable," he acknowledged, closing his eyes for the slightest moment. When he opened them again, the fiery golden orbs focused not on Kagome's face, but on the book she cradled in her small, white hand. "Rin will be your pupil, and I will not take any more of your books."
"Thank you," Kagome replied, though her tone suggested she was anything but grateful to him.
A glint of a smile warmed Sesshoumaru's icy features. "It was a ridiculous story anyway," he said, and with a flutter of his long kimono sleeves, he leapt through the treetops through a break in the canopy and was gone.
Kagome stood under the greenery, stupefied. Ridiculous story? What—did he mean this? She held aloft the volume, the golden title—The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare—gleaming in the sunlight that filtered through the trees. A cold breath of autumn breeze brushed past her, dragging with it several stray leaves that had fallen when Sesshoumaru had plunged through the canopy. One of them swirled unsteadily through the air in front of her until it came to rest delicately on the cover of the very book she was holding. Kagome stood perfectly still.
He couldn't have meant this book, could he? She thought, madly trying to piece together the demon lord's cryptic last words. It couldn't have been more than an hour between when I saw him come into the village and when he confronted Inuyasha and me. How could he have possibly read the entire play in less than one hour?
Another gentle curl of the wind, and the leaf on the book cover was swept away with a flourish. Kagome broke as if from a trance and shook her head. No, there's no way. It's not humanly possible.
She sighed, turned, and began trudging back towards the village. Only then did Kagome realize once again the foolishness of her own thought.
Not humanly possible, of course. But maybe possible for a demon.
AUTHOR'S NOTES: There's a big, ginormous chunk of my story to start you off. I hope the more literary types enjoyed the numerous allusions to Shakespeare. They will continue. Please review if you liked it—reviews help to motivate me to write more! I often reply to each of my reviewers personally at the end of the next chapter I post too, so ask me questions or start a conversation with me if you like. Thanks for reading!