Continuing Tales

Tales from the House of the Moon

A InuYasha Story
by Resmiranda

Part 6 of 42

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Tales from the House of the Moon

"Razors pain you, rivers are damp,
Acid stains you, and drugs cause cramps.
Guns aren't lawful, nooses give,
Gas smells awful – you might as well live."
-Dorothy Parker, Résumé

Good old ceiling, Kagome thought. I always know where I stand with you.

It was a good ceiling. The heavy, seasoned rafters that supported the thatched roof were solidly in place and appeared to be just as stable and dependable as the first night she slept beneath this roof, that night so many years ago after she had unleashed the monster Inuyasha from the tree and he had tried to kill her. It had taken so much and so little to free him from his bondage – just a quick tug and a sudden holy vaporization and the monster was loose, crude and brash, destroying her life, her peace of mind, the tranquil girlish idealism of her heart.

God, how she missed him.

After the first initial shock, Kagome realized that she had been harboring the terrible, debilitating wish to see him again in her breast. That wish had kept her leaping through the broken well again and again; it had ruined her little rebound relationship with Hojou, had made her sleepy with sadness, had driven her to her chosen field of study. Everything she had done in her life had revolved around the idea that if she was smart enough, or strong enough, or oh, so good she would see him again. Now her wish had been granted; now she was in the past again, except that it was a different past. Her enemies were gone, but so were her friends. And now the well would not let her back through to her own time.

Kagome reflected that it was bitterly ironic that she had lived her life in the past, and now that she wanted to return to where she belonged and pick up the pieces of her mockery of a half-life she was not allowed to do so. Perhaps it's my destiny to be disappointed at every turn, she thought miserably as she glared into the gloom at the top of the hut and reflected on the events that had led her there.

It was fetid at the bottom of that hole, and Kagome needed very little convincing to lever herself back onto her feet, wipe her eyes, and determine to cry later where no one could see. She'd probably made a huge fool of herself; the torches shone shivering light down into the shaft to reveal her form at the bottom, crying for what appeared to be no reason; combined with the vomit and the mud, she was certainly not winning any beauty contests either. Mustering what was left of her dignity, she'd climbed out of the well on her own and would have taken care of things on her own but Sinayo had insisted she be helped by several of the young men of the village down to the stream to clean herself up and then back to her hut.

Kagome had done so in an obedient daze, at least until she discovered that one of her escorts, a strapping lad just into manhood, had wandering hands. It had reminded her so much of a certain monk she used to know that Kagome burst into tears all over again. Mortified, the young man tried to apologize, but she had only cried harder until Sinayo appeared, assessed the situation, and soundly smacked the offender with her bow. Probably things would have gone very badly for him just then if Kagome hadn't gained control of her vocal cords in the nick of time to assure the older miko that she wasn't offended.

It was depressing. Had she really become so insensible that sexual harassment made her nostalgic? She knew they were dead, in her time; why was she still so miserable? Sighing, her breath shuddering just a little in her chest from remembered tears, Kagome pulled her blanket over her face and tried to shut out the tiny, grieving thoughts that plucked at her mind. The futile gesture and the knowledge of its genesis almost made her laugh.

As if anything she could do would make a difference.

That attitude seemed to be what got her into trouble the whole time she was traipsing about in the Sengoku Jidai; she could help, she could do something right, she could handle the crisis as long as no one noticed her, defenseless, on the sidelines. Running away, that's what she was meant to do. Run away and detect shards and make sure she didn't die, because finding shards would be that much harder. She hadn't even been much use when Naraku was finally defeated; the only thing she had been good for was making a pure wish – a wish to make other people happy at her own expense. She loved Inuyasha, but to make him happy she would have done anything, even if it meant her own sadness, and so she paid in sacrifice and bought redemption and the hanyou was human and the woman he loved, who had died so tragically, was restored to him. It was worth it.

Except now she had to learn that the happiness she bought with her own tears was gone, buried in the earth, stricken down in the prime of life, Sinayo said, by sickness.

In the end, the second son of the demon lord of the west and his kind bride, the former protector of the Shikon no Tama, had both died of what amounted to a bad case of the flu, and Kagome, the miko reborn, tried not to think about how many flu shots she had received.

It was fate, Sinayo had told her, softly, sadly.

"Fate is cruel," Kagome had said. Sinayo had only nodded.

So many questions, and none of them with satisfactory answers.

Where is Shippou?

The kitsune left after Inuyasha and Kikyou died, was the reply.

Where were Sango and Miroku?

Gone, Sinayo answered, no one had heard of them since before Inuyasha died.

How do you know my name?

I remember you, from when I was a little girl.

"You remember me?" Kagome had asked.

"You and Inuyasha were the champions of our village," Sinayo had replied. "I wanted to be a miko, just like you. You were good and kind and noble and brave, and I thought... I had hoped... What I mean is, I don't have a lot of power, but..." she trailed off. "I do my best. I hope you find me worthy of taking your place."

Then, to Kagome's astonishment, the woman – Sinayo, old enough to be her mother, her eyes full of wisdom, but her voice echoing with childlike idolatry – had bowed deep and low. "My replacement?" Kagome had said, dumbly. Her mind, still reeling from cold, slippery grief, seemed to waver at the impact of such a notion.

"Hai, Kagome-sama," Sinayo replied, and hearing the words, spoken so reverently, Kagome felt something inside her twist around itself, painfully.

She bowed her head. "I was never a very good miko to begin with," she said softly, and between them a silence grew, broken only by the crackling of the fire and the hollow years that separated them.

This must be what it means to be a demon; this must be what it means to be one who lives forever, she had thought as the fire sparked and the emptiness of the world mutely howled outside the door. I'm not good or noble. I'm not brave. I'm just scared. I was always just scared, just trying to do the right thing. Sometimes I wouldn't think, or would do something stupid, but I was still afraid.

Now, staring at the ceiling, Kagome wanted to cry again as she went over the conversation in her mind. I wasn't a very good miko at all. I was just a kid. The truth hovered outside her mind.

I still feel like a kid.

The miko reborn stared into the darkness. The darkness stared back. She was still afraid, and Kagome wished for Inuyasha, for her friends to knock on the door, to be surrounded by them. Safe, and known. Known.

This is what it means to be immortal. The thought flashed and sparked across her mind, white with the incandescence of realization. Always remembered, but no one knows. No one but me will ever know what it was like. They may remember the deeds and the stories, the myth of the hanyou prince and his priestess companion. They may recall the huntress and the monk and the fox. But none of them remember what it was like. None of them know who these heroes really were. They don't know that the hanyou had a weakness for noodles, or that the huntress loved the color green, or that the monk used to crack his fingers when he was nervous. They know nothing of the people, only the story. In the thick, heavy quiet of the night, wrapped in borrowed blankets, Kagome could hear the crystalline sound of her breaking heart. I am the only one who remembers them...

I will always be alone.

When Kagome awoke the next morning to the gentle hand of Sinayo on her shoulder, she was heartsick, stricken with a headache, and her eyes were gummy and crusted with dried tears. She must have been crying in her sleep.

"Ungh," was her first word as she scrubbed the disgusting detritus of her despair from her eyes when she sat up.

Sinayo, kneeling next to her, sat back in slight surprise.

For some reason the action irritated her. Never seen a living legend wake up before? Kagome thought moodily and then immediately felt guilty. Sinayo had been nothing but solicitous and caring.

"Would you like some breakfast?" the older miko asked, unwittingly adding another stab of guilt to Kagome's already pin-cushioned stomach. She nodded slowly and rubbed her temples as Sinayo rose and began to fill two bowls with cold rice and a little bit of fish.

"Thank you very much," Kagome murmured as she accepted the bowl and settled down across from – strange as it might seem – her successor, and began the arduous process of chewing and swallowing.

Kagome had never been drunk before, but this, she imagined, was what a hangover felt like. Her thoughts were jumbled and angry inside her skull, and her recollections of the night before were dull and painful. It hurt to probe too much. But nothing could hide the fact that she was alone in the past once more, her way home seemed blocked, and all her friends were gone.

She had to find some way home; that old panic that she had felt many times while searching for shards – that she would never find any, and she would be stuck in the past forever – was beginning to settle in. Before she could grieve or scream or just curl into a little ball, she had to find some way to open the well again. Midterms were in a few weeks, after all.

Kagome glanced up at Sinayo, wondering if she might know how to open the well again, and caught the older miko nearly nodding off into her rice.

"Are you feeling well?" Kagome asked, her innate concern for others suddenly reasserting itself, even though what she really wanted was for someone to ask how she was doing for a change.

Starting, Sinayo sat straight up and blinked several times. "Pardon me, Kagome-sama, but I was up very early this morning. Hachiro-kun sequestered himself in a tree and wouldn't come down until I assured him that the miko from the future was not going to harm him."

Kagome quirked an eyebrow.

"You're, ah, suitor from last night," Sinayo supplied.

"Ah," Kagome said.

There was a pregnant pause. Kagome could hear the next question before it was spoken.

"You... wouldn't hurt him, would you?" Sinayo asked as delicately as possible.

Kagome shook her head. "Of course not," she replied, but she caught the noticeable relaxation of tension in Sinayo's shoulders.

She fears me, Kagome thought, and she didn't know whether to feel hurt or empowered.

"I hope he's okay." She was offering platitudes instead of her real thoughts, but her real thoughts were so uncharitable and crowded that it would be cruel to try to voice them. Kagome looked down into her bowl.

"He'll be fine," Sinayo sniffed. "He never was the brightest boy."

"Hm," Kagome said noncommittally, and slowly finished her breakfast. She felt a little bit better after her stomach had time to settle around the rice. Sinayo held out a hand to collect her bowl.

"Do you know how to open the well?" Kagome asked, surprising herself with the words that tumbled out of her mouth without any prior thought. There I go again, jumping into the situation.

For her part, Sinayo looked surprised. "No, I do not," she answered readily, "but I have been thinking about your predicament."

Now it was Kagome's turn to look surprised. Someone had been thinking about her problems? That was a nice turnabout, even if it did make her feel like she was suddenly imposing upon the older miko, who continued without seeming to notice the expression of slight shock Kagome wore.

"To the north there is a miko who is very, very powerful. Her name is Hotaru-sama, and she is very knowledgeable about magic and such. I myself was never good at the kind of concentration required to summon the spiritual power that was needed, but I think Hotaru-sama might be able to help you."

"The North?" Kagome said, feeling as though she had only digested a third of the words in Sinayo's proposition.

"Hai. She lives on the coast."

"And you think she'll be able to help me?"

Sinayo dipped her head with a small smile. "She should be the first person to ask. If not her, I'm sure she might know someone else who could help you."

Kagome was slightly stunned; against all expectation, things seemed to be looking up. "But… how will I get there? Will you travel with me?"

For the first time since she had met the older miko, Kagome saw her laugh. "Me?" Sinayo chuckled, disbelief coloring her voice. "I could never make that sort of journey. No, I will send someone with you."

Confused, Kagome quirked a brow. "Not Hachiro, right?"

Sinayo laughed again. "No. Do not worry, Kagome-sama. I shall see that you are well looked-after."

The heavy mantel of impotence suddenly seemed to be lifting from her shoulders, and it was a heady feeling. Kagome knew that she was too late to save her friends, or even Rin whom was also dead and almost forgotten under the barrage of other sorrows, but now a sense of purpose was beginning to trickle into her recently hollowed heart.

"You'd do that for me?" she asked. It seemed a little too good to be true, to escape from this past that was not the past, and part of her did not want to be disappointed.

"Of course, Kagome-sama. You are a champion of our village." The other miko reached out and patted her hand. "Don't you worry about a thing."

Kagome smiled in relief. "Arigatou, Sinayo-san."

Sinayo smiled back, and through the cracks around her door, the dawn began to spill in.

Rin woke him, as she did every morning. He could smell her before his eyes opened, advancing into his room to scratch his ears and laugh the girlish laugh that was not quite the joy of a child nor the mirth of a woman.

He always remembered, as he made the arduous, unwelcome journey to consciousness, that he wasn't in a room. He was usually propped against a tree trunk or in a cave, but even as the textures around him became sharp and recognizable, Rin was there, laughing that horrible laugh that hadn't changed for over thirty years. She would never change because she was dead, and he wondered if her memory would ever stop tickling his soul like a phantom limb.

It seemed ironic that his own limbs were once again whole, but his spirit seemed carved into something that no longer resembled himself. It was ironic that he was probably strong enough to take on his enemies, but that he seemed to have no interest in doing so. It was ironic that the little girl whom he wanted to never change wouldn't ever change now; she remained static in his memory, always on the cusp of womanhood, always selfish and carefree, always seared into his memory with a life half-lived. No, not even half-lived. Barely lived.

"Awake today, milord?"

Sesshoumaru let his eyes slide down to the sleeve of his haori and found the source of his annoyance. It was only Myouga-jii, who more often than not would come and torment him. Distantly, Sesshoumaru wondered when the flea was going to die, but decided it didn't matter. At least he remained constant.

"I'm always awake when you are here," Sesshoumaru replied.

Myouga just chuckled. "Most of the time you are quite dead to the world," he replied. "Even when I jump up and down next to your ear and shout your name you sometimes do not stir."

"Just because I do not stir, that does not mean I do not hear you," Sesshoumaru replied. In truth he could never remember such a thing happening – was he spending more and more time in sleep? – but it never did well to advertise such an oversight.

"Sesshoumaru-sama! I am hurt, milord," the flea said, although he did not sound particularly wounded. Sesshoumaru did not acknowledge this statement. It did not seem to require any response in any case, and Myouga began to prattle about affairs in the West, merrily slicing the heart of his liege to ribbons. Sesshoumaru never wanted to hear about the West, his inconstant allies, his ruined home ever again. For nearly ten years he had sought a new sword, a new set of armor, had fought his foes on the borders of what was once his land, but without allies it was nearly impossible to overcome such a large collection of youkai, even when most of them were weaker than he. The truth remained that they were much, much stronger when banded together. After a while, it seemed pointless. What was he fighting for, anyway? The burnt ruins of the House of the Moon? The lost heirlooms of his father that he was no longer fit to wield? Honor? Revenge? What good were those things when he woke every day with a shining half-moon smile in his mind and went to sleep each night missing the dead?

So he wandered, looking for some inspiration to restore him to his former self. He had no honor – his enemies hadn't even felt he was worth killing, and if he were at all a man he would have honorably committed suicide long ago. No, honor meant little any more. His pride had long ago been shredded to bits. Such a selfish thing seemed paltry against the death he had witnessed in the House of the Moon. There was no pride, no honor, no vengeance. Vengeance could not raise the dead.

Slowly, Sesshoumaru let himself sag where he sat. He was propped against a tree today – what was today? – and the dew had settled on him. His hakama, somewhat worse for the wear, were soaked through and clung to his form, but his haori, relatively new and covered with new armor, was fairly dry. The sode covering his shoulders kept the damp from his sleeves well enough, but the long, white trails of his cuffs were drenched with dew. The morning was cold, but there didn't seem to be any point in getting up and making himself presentable. He entertained no one but insects and insensate creatures that ventured into his clearings and none of them cared what he looked like.

Sesshoumaru felt his eyes lose focus, and Myouga's chattering faded into the dull background roar of his mind. Rest beckoned him. He was so tired. Why am I so weary? he wondered, but it didn't matter; creeping up to claim him was a feeling of pleasant numbness, and Sesshoumaru welcomed it.

He was in danger of slipping into the nothingness that he craved when he felt a sharp prick on his cheek that brought him suddenly back to reality.

Reaching up, he plucked the flea from his face and held him in front of his eyes.

"I told you not to do that," he said mechanically. Pinched between his forefinger and thumb, Myouga began to struggle.

"You are losing it, Sesshoumaru-sama! You sit there for hours staring at nothing, and you won't respond to any sort of noise or touch! Why? Why have you not restored your father's honor? Why do you still wander?" he cried, multiple limbs struggling to break free of the hold of Sesshoumaru's claws.

For a long moment it seemed that the youkai prince would not respond, until he slowly opened his mouth.

"Why...?" Sesshoumaru repeated. He didn't know why. His father's honor was so far removed from his situation that there seemed an enormous rift, black and howling with danger, between him and the memory of his sire.

Myouga's arms and legs drooped. "You appear to be stricken with an affliction, my lord," he said quietly.

Sesshoumaru said nothing, and waited.

Myouga seemed hesitant to continue, but finally he spoke again. "There is... I have heard of a miko whose power is able to be felt nearly a mile away, and she has been traveling these past few weeks toward the north. She has been... helping people – humans and demons alike – as she travels."

The old retainer trailed off, and Sesshoumaru set him down on his sleeve.

"And?" he asked.

Shrugging, the flea looked up at the face of his lord. "And she might be able to help you."

"Help me?"


Sesshoumaru said nothing, only raised his head and inhaled deeply. In the trees, the cool, sweet breeze rustled.

He could smell plum blossoms on the wind. It was going to be a beautiful day.

Sitting in front of the fire, Kagome stared moodily into the flames.

Her guide had turned out to be a lithe young woman by the name of Amaya whose every gesture was so agonizingly reminiscent of Sango that Kagome could not decide whether to distance herself entirely or to attempt to become fast friends. After the initial introduction, Kagome struggled until her innate sense of camaraderie won, but it turned out that she shouldn't have really bothered; Amaya was skittish around the miko from the future, so after a week or so of friendly overtures Kagome gave up. Being a legend in her own lifetime had some serious downsides.

They had been walking for weeks. Sometimes, Amaya would accidentally take the wrong turn despite her insistence that she had impeccable direction. Other times they would run across a village, and Kagome, dressed as she was in a borrowed miko's outfit, would often be hailed and her assistance requested. She was beginning to regret taking the garb of a priestess, but the baggage it came with seemed so insignificant now. No one remembered what Kikyou looked like; no one would be comparing the two of them. Besides, the nights were cold, and the thick hakama, while more restrictive than her own clothing, were less indecent for the times.

What really shocked her was the lack of youkai they ran into. The borrowed bow slung across her back gave her a measure of peace, but what really set her mind at ease was the seeming dearth of demons attacking her. Perhaps it was because she no longer carried Shikon shards around her neck, or maybe the youkai had pulled away from human settlements; either way, there were less of them. In fact, she'd run into only two of them on the road, and both of them had been harmless and injured. The second one was a horse youkai with a shallow gash in his side, and Kagome had patched him up in a field full of flowers and wondered how Jinenji was doing, or even if he was still alive. That had tugged at her heart a little bit, but not as much as the first youkai had.

The first one had been a tiny fox kit on the side of the road, younger than Shippou was as she remembered him. The little fox-girl had a sprained ankle, and Kagome, unable to resist the large, silent tears that fell from the little kitsune's wide green eyes, bandaged her foot, ignoring the warnings of Amaya.

"Kagome-sama! Kitsunes are tricksters! She's only trying to trick you!" the guide shouted from the opposite side of the road.

"Well, she's doing a really good job!" Kagome yelled back as her knowing fingers probed the swollen flesh around the furry ankle. The little kit cried harder.

"It's dangerous, Kagome-sama!"

Kagome ignored Amaya's warnings and reached inside her pack. After a few moments she found her first aid kit, drew it out, and opened it up. As she rummaged around inside it, she took the opportunity to speak to the kitsune.

"You don't have to be afraid," she said kindly. "I'm going to help you."

The little kit just sniffled.

Smiling, Kagome showed her the roll of bandages. "I'm going to wrap your foot so you can walk." The kit didn't answer. Seeking to put her at her ease, Kagome began to chatter softly as she carefully bound the foot, asking her name and where she lived. By the end of the little one-sided conversation, the kit had stopped crying and was staring at her with wide eyes.

"All done!" Kagome declared, clapping her hands. "If it swells up any more, go stick your foot in a mountain stream. It will be cold, but it will help."

The little kit nodded, and Kagome stood, picking up her large yellow pack and moving to the center of the road again. After about ten paces, Amaya joined her.

"Kagome-sama, I have never seen anything like that!"

Kagome was puzzled. "Like what?"

Amaya waved a hand in the air, as though at a loss. "I've never seen a priestess take care of a youkai."

And that was the crux of it, really. She, who had spent so much time in the comforting presence of a hanyou and a kitsune, who had once been the favored maiden of a wolf prince, was suddenly strange and out of water. Youkai were to be feared or ignored, as always, but no one familiar with them would have ever thought the little fox-child would be any threat at all.

There was no youki around her, and Kagome found it strange. Where were all the youkai?

"Mostly dead," Amaya had replied when she asked. "The East doesn't really take very kindly to youkai anymore."

"Oh," Kagome had said, because there didn't seem to be much she could say to that.

Now Amaya and Kagome were sitting by a small fire, and above them the astonishing stars twinkled and danced. If stars had voices, they would be laughing at me, Kagome thought.

"How long until we find Hotaru-sama?" she wondered as she poked the fire with a long branch.

Amaya shrugged. "A few more days, probably," she said nonchalantly.

Midterms are over, Kagome thought. All those midterms she would have aced were now forever gone in the long walk from the flourishing Edo to the unknown North. Maybe I shouldn't have spent so much time taking care of other people. Maybe I should have taken care of my own business.

It was a useless thought, though, and Kagome found she did not regret her time spent bandaging villagers and youkai. Sighing, she reached inside her backpack and drew out the books she had stowed away for studying, just as though she were back in high school and trying to pass algebra.

Beneath the stars and the moon, Kagome sifted through her texts. Art of Ancient Japan, Life in the Kamakura Period, and Feudal Costumes were shuffled in her hands until she came up with what she wanted: her notebook detailing the myths and legends of Japan. Amaya ignored her nervous movements and stoked the fire. Kagome was grateful for the other girl's reticence; she could torment herself in peace.

Kagome looked down at the notebook in her hands; she always brought it out at night and tortured herself with it. Like her own memory, it served as a painful reminder of the things she had been unable to do and of her own mission, miserably failed. With weak fingers, she turned to the legend of Sesshoumaru and Rin and began to reread her notes.

For fifty years the demon lord wandered in the East. It was right there in front of her, this story of betrayal and grief, and though she would never have admitted it to anyone in this time period, it irked her that she had not even managed to land fifty years after the first part of the legend when Sesshoumaru reclaimed his land. There was nothing she could do to help. The unnamed miko, possibly Hotaru-sama herself, would be there in the decades that waited, but Kagome was never even a part of it, just like the legend of Inuyasha that had been lost to the ages.

She was lost to the ages as well; she had saved the world and was now caught in obscurity, unknown and unknowable, even to the people who thought they knew her.

In the firelight, the waning moons she had scribbled on the pages seemed to dance and dip, and Kagome felt frustrated tears stinging high in her nose. Useless again.

To her right, Amaya suddenly shifted and Kagome looked up.

"What is it, Amay – " she began.

"Shh!" the other girl hissed urgently. Kagome shut her mouth. Amaya was not lounging against her own pack now; she was crouched, with a knife drawn, and every line of her body, from the cave of her chest to the arch of her back spoke volumes to Kagome, who had seen Inuyasha adopt this stance so many times before.

Something was out there.

"Can you feel that?" Amaya whispered.

Kagome concentrated, and was suddenly bowled over, her hands gripping the earth beneath her.

Somewhere, outside the circle of firelight, was a demon.

Its presence was powerful, nearly overwhelming, and her breath was catching in her chest. She hadn't felt such energy in so long that it was almost incapacitating in its intensity and focus.

"Oh," she whispered, suddenly feeling very small and alone. The fire was now a hindrance, blinding her to the hostile night, and even the presence of Amaya was not reassuring; it was powerful. If the demon decided to attack, neither of them would survive. Carefully, as Amaya began to move in an oblique circle, still crouching, Kagome reached behind her and put her hand on her bow, taking small comfort in its solidity. Slowly, she drew herself to her feet and retrieved an arrow, knocking it in the string and pulling it back, waiting.

A breeze rustled her hair.

I must look ridiculous, she thought. The demonic energy was curling around her, filling her heart with ice and causing the hair on her neck to stand up, and she was shaking so badly her knees were buckling and the bow quivered in her hands.

She would only get one shot. She was going to faint. The youki surrounded her, shooting painful lightning to her core, and even though it was useless the instinct to run was almost overwhelming her. Never run from a youkai, she thought. Her mind was shivering but distant, naming the things she might need to do, calmly and rationally while the rest over her tensed over and over as she prepared to flee.

Amaya was a statue. "It's watching us," she whispered fiercely.

But Kagome already knew. Through the fog of fear that surrounded her brain, she felt something vague and strange. This energy… it was almost familiar. As if she had felt it before.

I know this demon.

The insurmountable force of the youkai approaching stirred memories that she had tried so hard to be rid of, memories that she was determined not to revisit until she was alone, but now that was impossible.

Kagome felt like laughing and crying at the same time, because she understood why she was here. It was the reason the well had let her through. It was the reason she had felt compelled to return. The story had caught her in its tendrils, and she had never even guessed.

He was coming closer, and she knew him. She knew this power. It felt like thunder rattling her bones; it felt like nighttime beneath the shrouded moon. And she knew.

...and it came to pass that a miko became prominent in the North, and she was of such great power and such great compassion that even youkai who sought an end to sorrows went to her and asked her for assistance. When the lord heard of her, he immediately traveled to the North...

"Oh, no..." Kagome breathed, and lowered her bow.

Amaya shot her a look of alarm. "What are you doing?" she hissed. "It's still out there!"

Kagome did not reply.

"Kagome-sama? Kagome-sama!"

Kagome paid no attention to Amaya's frantic whispers. "Oh no, no, no," she murmured over and over again, like a mantra, and the youki that clung to her, piercingly familiar, grew stronger and stronger.

And then, there, staring at her from the edge of the firelight, looking so much the way she remembered that it was almost pain to see his untouchable face, stood Sesshoumaru. He was a figure from the past, so sharp in her memory and so blurred in the light of the fire, and he stirred something so powerfully longing, so horribly nostalgic that the world, except for the two of them, was melting away into faded insignificance. Everyone was gone, but he remained, and he had wandered for over a quarter of a century, suspended in a fairytale, just to find her.

"Miko," he said, voice resonating in the stillness of the years.

Miko. It was too much.

"Ah, shit," Kagome replied piously.

Tales from the House of the Moon

A InuYasha Story
by Resmiranda

Part 6 of 42

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