This story is pretty much spoiler free, because we all know what happens to Kikyou and Inu-Yasha, if you've gotten past the first few episodes. ^n.-^ However, while I own this story and the ideas contained within, the lady miko and the dogboy certainly belong to someone else. Blah blah blah, disclaimer, don't sue me.

This is the first chapter in the cycle of seasons that cover 18 months of awkwardness, humanity, love, fear, and more. This is not a story for those who insist that Kikyou is a whore, and hate her. This is the miko as she is, not as the fans perceive her in their jealous fits. If you hate Kikyou… read the story anyway and maybe you'll change your mind. If you love Kikyou, then this story is for you, who acknowledge that she's a miko, a woman – but not truly a monster.

The Courtship of Kikyou

A tale of the Love That Was

Amanda Lever

Chapter 1: Spring

Inu-Yasha had not been this close to the village before. In the last few months, he'd edged close, certainly, to the shrine on the hill, but he had never ventured near the small buildings that existed in its shadow. They had never held anything for him before. No fascination, no longing, no promises of anything except rejection, degradation and humiliation.

But this time, it held a promise of a glimpse of the priestess. Beauty had soothed the savage hanyou; her eyes were his undoing. Her somber, brown eyes had unabashedly revealed her sorrow to the wild hanyou. He cursed her then, but in the days after, he was stuck by the look in her eyes. They haunted him to the point where he did not eat or sleep without wondering if there was a way to remove the sadness from her gaze.

So here he was, drawn by the thought he might again catch her glance, to see if the sincere sadness lingered with her still. Was she that sad all the time? If she was happy with her humans, then he would not worry about the sadness in her eyes, and he would continue to seek the shikon.

If she was still sad, he did not know what he might do.

He told himself it was a weakness he could not afford. No true youkai would care about the state of a woman's heart and he should emulate the power of will that a real youkai would have. A true youkai had no human blood, and therefore no human heart to worry over.

The miko's sadness was her weakness, her desire for empathy a chink in her armor. He could surely exploit if he was clever enough, but he found the idea of earning her trust and breaking her heart repulsive. He couldn't play such a game with her heart, not this warm day.

The spring had brought warm breezes and blossoms on the trees. The pollen made his nose itch, but there was little place for him to sit and expect to catch a glance of the priestess other than in one of the border trees. Stifling a sneeze, he let his gaze roam over the people that came too and fro.

They sang planting songs, banged on drums to keep a rhythm. Never before had he bothered to watch the age-old ritual of the rice paddy; the thrum of darting dragonfly's wings accompanying the slosh and splash of rhythmic steps. The villages turned the simple act of planting into a dance, adding ceremony to the most common, but life-sustaining routine they had: the care and upkeep of the rice crop.

He watched the women, their kimono tied about their broad thighs, with little more than disinterest, till he caught a flash of white from the corner of his eyes. She was there.

"Kikyou." Her name came out in a rush of breath he only just realized he'd been holding.

She came down the path, her red hakama hiding the motion of her step, creating the effect of a graceful glide rather then a walk. He leaned forward, ears cocked toward the scene, wishing the drums would stop, just for a few minutes.

They did not relent. The ceremony of planting continued and he was left straining to hear anything she might say. She spoke with the village head-man, and he smiled and nodded. Inu-Yasha could imagine their conversation about rice, good omens, blessings for the village, hoping for a good year of a healthy rice crop and strong sons for the women.

But he couldn't hear anything as far away as he was!

A low growl escaped his throat and he swung down from the branches of his trees, dropping into the brush. He moved forward, just a little, and crouched in the shadows.

The drum still thundered away the words he wanted to hear.

He crept closer still.

She turned and glanced in his direction.

He froze.

Her eyes pierced the shadows, stripping away his hiding place. She saw him, he was sure of it. Her serious expression did not abate. Would she be angry? he wondered abruptly, holding still under the weight of her gaze. He should bolt, he told himself. She's down here, he could make it to the shrine and plunder the shikon no tama while it was unguarded…

Her expression eased into that sad smile she'd worn in the field with him, and all thoughts of theft fluttered away with a contraction of his heart. Why must she smile so sadly?

She turned back to the village headman, the expression washing away as if it'd never taken her face. The headman seemed not to notice that she'd looked away, and Inu-Yasha made good his reprieve from her eyes. He took back to the trees some distance, losing sight of the priestess and the villagers under her care.

When he glanced again to the village, he could not see her. His expression fell, but he simply turned away. He decided the best thing to do was to find some tubers to dig up for breakfast, and consider hunting some wild birds for lunch.

He had only begun to dirty his claws when he heard a noise, a snap, behind him. His ears cocked back before he glanced over his shoulder, and caught a glimpse of red and white.

Kikyou emerged from the shadows of the trees, her dark eyes seeking the hanyou's gaze without fear. Her smile was again in place; pierced by her eyes he idly wondered if she smiled like that only for him.

"Inu-Yasha," she said, his name rousing him from his thoughts. "I've never seen you so close to the village before."

He blinked his eyes, and then snorted softly, shifting. He wouldn't give his enemy his back, asking for an arrow in it, but he would continue to dig for his breakfast. He found the roots he'd been digging up, and continued to work the earth around them.

"Keh," he said, as he worked. "I just came because I heard all the noise."

"Have you never seen a village do it's planting, Inu-Yasha?" she asked, gaze gentle.

"Not in many years," he admitted. But it was a small thing, he decided, as he wrenched his prize from the earth, and worked to dig up another.

She allowed him to finish his work, before she said, "Shall I accompany you to the lake, Inu-Yasha?"

He looked down at the dirty roots, wondering if eating them as they were would repulse her and wipe that smile from her face. His disgust at the idea of the earth-caked root in his mouth was enough to keep him from finding out.

"If you like. I care not what you do." He rose from his crouch and took his breakfast in hand, moving off through the trees.

She followed. His ears caught the whisper of her hakama, but he said nothing to her.

The green, spring grass was only to their shins now; soon he was sure it would grow up to their chests; perfect for hiding hanyou in the summer. He crossed the field, the rocky outcroppings, and the short grass on the other side to reach the lake.

He sat down without a word, flipping back his long sleeves before he took the first root and dunked it in the waters, rubbing vigorously to get the earth free of its skin. His claws picked at a stubborn pebble, and he flicked it away with a soft snort.

When he finished with the first, he glanced back; Kikyou sat in the grass not far behind him, her hands folded in her lap. He snorted again, before repeating the wash with the second tuber.

Once clean, he moved back to the grass, sitting down a few feet to the woman's left, his eyes flicking to her, wary. Was she going to try and take his food? Was she waiting for something? He couldn't be sure. He bit into the tuber, not minding that it was raw.

"When was the last time you had a cooked meal, Inu-Yasha?" Kikyou asked.

"I cook my meat," Inu-Yasha snapped defensively.

"Ahso," Kikyou said with a slight smile. "I didn't mean it that way, Inu-Yasha. I'm just wondering when you last had a full, cooked meal. Rice, vegetables, meat."

Inu-Yasha chewed on the rubbery tuber in his mouth, and considered. "I traveled with my brother, for a while. He always provided, when I was younger."

"A brother?" Kikyou's brow arched, and she asked, "Is he hanyou as well?"

"Hah!" Inu-Yasha swallowed down the mouthful of food, before he shook his head. "No!

He's my half-brother. My father's first son, and heir to the Western Lands. His blood isn't tainted."

"So your father was youkai, Inu-Yasha? And your mother was human?" Her gaze became critical, and she asked, "What happened between them?"

"How should I know?" he asked with a snort. "He was dead before I even knew his face."

"They were lovers, then?" She almost sounded relieved.

"Yeah. So?"

She smiled, and did not elaborate at first. He continued his meal with a shrug.

"What was your mother like, Inu-Yasha?" Kikyou asked, once the first tuber was completely gone.

"Human."

"I know that," she prompted. "Do you remember her at all?"

"She's been dead eight years. I remember that she was always crying." His eyes darted toward Kikyou, and a new idea bubbled to the surface.

"You remind me of her, actually," his voice twisting into something ugly, "She was always sad – must be why I can't stand your sad face!"

Kikyou blinked at the vehemence with which he spoke, and then looked away as he rose.

"I see," she murmured softly, but did not rise to his bait. Where was the hate? The return insult?

Why did this human simply take the barbs he flung and not respond?

He stared at her a moment longer, before he snorted again and took a large bite from the tuber. He still would not give her his back. He'd force her away before he did that.

"Why are you still here?"

"I'm trying to see if I could understand why your mother would be sad. Perhaps at the loss at your father? Or perhaps," Kikyou's voice dropped to a whisper, "Or perhaps she was afraid her son would grow to hate her for the gift of her weak, human blood."

Inu-Yasha was struck mute by Kikyou's words; he was still and quiet at the thought—his mother, afraid he would hate her? But he didn't! He didn't hate her! He'd known why she cried… why she cried every time he asked his questions and did not understand...

"She cried because I was small and I didn't understand why everyone hated me," he stated flatly, "when she loved me so much."

Kikyou's gaze settled against on his face, and he would not look up at her. But her smile had returned, yet he could not look up into it.

"I am glad, then, that I remind you of someone that loved you, Inu-Yasha."

His frown was still firmly in place, and he didn't want to look up. But something ate at the back of his mind; perhaps the tone of her voice, or the way she'd said her words, so he chanced a glance in her direction.

There was no sadness on her face.

He turned more fully to look at her, his eyes widening. "Kikyou…" his voice held a note of wonder, and for a moment, just a moment, the walls dropped between them in the stillness.

She broke the moment with a motion of her hand–reaching out to brush her fingers atop his, before she moved away with such fluid grace that he almost didn't register what had happened.

"Enjoy your breakfast, Inu-Yasha," Kikyou said, before turning from him. She walked away without fear, her sadness abated just for a moment.

Inu-Yasha did not follow; he instead held his hands close to his chest once she was gone, wondering how a simple brush of her fingers could make him tremble like a leaf in a storm.