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Ailment by Chie

Chapter 1

One shot I wrote for Inuvember, day 22 - Family.

Prompt: Peony

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Ailment

Any time now, Kagome prayed fervently in her mind, shuffling her feet. Any time now sweet sweet ground just rise up and swallow me whole. Please.

The daiyoukai towered before her, cold fury in his eyes.

She’d rather face him in a battle than have this conversation with him.

He might carve her into bloody little pieces, but at least that would spare her from the misery and humiliation of this situation.

“I left my ward here, because I judged Kaede’s tutelage to be the best fit for Rin. Yet, she remains my ward – even if no one here thought it prudent to inform me that she has taken ill.”

Kagome squirmed, and wished Kaede was here. The old miko would have dealt with this mess without batting an eye.

“Ummm.” Kagome swallowed. “I’m sorry no one’s told you, but I’m pretty sure she didn’t want you to know. I mean, Rin isn’t ill, not really.”

Sesshoumaru’s eyes flashed, and Kagome took an involuntary step backwards.

“Do not lie to me, miko,” he said, his voice low and arctic. And though each word was carefully enunciated, she could hear the growl simmering just beneath the surface.

“I’m not,” Kagome replied, coming perilously close to a squeak.

“She is in grave pain,” Sesshoumaru ground out. “She can barely rise from her futon, and you dare to tell me she is not ill!”

“She’s not!” Kagome winced at his murderous glare. “She’s in pain, yes, but not because of an illness.”

Sesshoumaru flexed his claws around the hilt of his sword, and slanted her a cold, imperious stare.

“Explain.”

Kagome closed her eyes and waited – but the ground didn’t swallow her despite all her pleas.

She blew out a breath.

“Rin is…” Kagome faltered, tried again. “Rin’s having women’s problems.”

Kagome could feel the heat on her cheeks, knew they would be burning with embarrassment now.

She figured the worst was over, and was immediately proven wrong: Sesshoumaru’s face remained as carefully blank as it had been before.

“I do not understand.”

Kagome hid her face in her hands, rubbed her forehead – and gave up.

“I don’t know how things work for female youkai, ok? But with human women, once you become old enough to bear children, there’s this monthly cycle and basically you will bleed up to a week–”

“I am aware of this issue with human females,” Sesshoumaru cut in, impatient.

Kagome blinked. “You are?”

“This Sesshoumaru can smell the blood.”

Well, wasn’t that just disconcerting.

“Okay. Of course you can.” Flustered, Kagome squared her shoulders and soldiered on. “Anyway, yeah, there is the blood, but some women also have stuff like muscle aches, cramps, pain… Unfortunately, Rin seems to be one of them.” Kagome paused, tried for a soothing tone of voice. “So you see, like I said, she’s not ill. She’s just having her period. It’s perfectly natural.”

Sesshoumaru scowled, angling his head to catch a faint, pained moan.

“There is nothing natural about that,” he said, pointing an accusing finger towards the hut where Rin was resting.

Kagome shrugged. She could try to argue, but since this was Sesshoumaru, she’d have better luck butting her head against a concrete wall. It just wasn’t worth the headache.

The anger was back in Sesshoumaru’s eyes as he pinned her down with his stare.

“Help her.”

Kagome bit her lip. “I would if I could. Honest.”

The look Sesshoumaru sent her could’ve chilled her to the bone. “There must be something you can do for her. To ease the pain. You are a miko after all, are you not?”

“Well…” Kagome frowned, racked her brain. “I think Rin mentioned Kaede’s given her some medicine before. But we don’t have the ingredients to make that now, and I don’t know where to get any.”

Sesshoumaru jaw clenched. “What ingredients?”

“Peonies. The root of white peony.”

Sesshoumaru’s spine stiffened and he grew very still.

Kagome felt a touch of concern – his face didn’t betray much, and yet he looked faintly ill.

“Are you all right?”

“Peonies,” he replied, from behind gritted teeth. “You need white peonies to help Rin?”

Kagome raised her eyebrow. She’d just told him that, hadn’t she? Why was he so wound up over pretty flowers?

“Yes.”

He huffed in displeasure, and turned to walk away.

“Are you coming, miko?”

“Huh? What? Where?”

Sesshoumaru glowered at her over his shoulder. “To get white peonies for Rin.”

“You have white peonies?”

“I know where to find some.”

His tone was coldly dismissive; a clear sign that the conversation was over.

Kagome wasn’t sure if she should be relieved she hadn’t died from embarrassment after all, or worried about the darker, brooding turn Sesshoumaru’s mood seemed to have taken.

She shook her head, and hurried after him.

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Once more, Kagome grabbed onto the white pelt trailing after Sesshoumaru’s steps, as he launched himself into the air with little warning. Kagome squeezed her eyes shut, buried her face in the soft fur and hoped not to plunge into her death.

She stumbled as her feet touched something solid, but kept squeezing her lifeline in a white-knuckled grip.

Until a cool voice spoke.

“You can let go now, miko.”

Kagome opened her eyes, let the fur slide through her fingers – and gaped.

They were standing before a stone staircase, leading up the side of a castle. A castle in the sky.

Sesshoumaru started up the steps, and Kagome followed him, turning her head, trying to peek from behind his back, drinking in everything.

He stopped, and she hesitated a moment before she circled around to stand next to Sesshoumaru, hoping he wouldn’t take offence to such familiarity.

And Kagome stared some more, because they’d come to a landing, and before them stood what could only be called a throne.

In that throne, lounged a female youkai dressed in rich kimono, over which she wore a fur-lined uchikake, and whose facial markings, silver-white hair, and sharp golden eyes looked disturbingly familiar.

“Back again, Sesshoumaru?” the demoness drawled, propping her chin against a hand tipped in pointed red nails. “And with another human female, I see. Are you planning to follow in your father’s footsteps after all, despite all your past declarations to the contrary?”

Kagome felt a terrible urge to step back behind Sesshoumaru’s back, when tension and animosity spiked in the air. As if the oppressing youki hanging heavy in the air wasn’t bad enough…

Sesshoumaru’s lip curled in a sneer. “Do not be absurd, mother.”

Kagome tried not to gawk – she really tried.

But holy crap, this was Sesshoumaru’s mother?!

The demoness arched one imperious eyebrow.

Sesshoumaru spared Kagome a glance. “She is one of the caretakers of Rin.”

“Oh yes, the little human girl you were so unnaturally fond of.”

The dismissive wave of the demoness’ hand had the first sparks of irritation stirring in Kagome’s chest. But she managed to hold her tongue in check.

“So,” Sesshoumaru’s mother drawled, “for what do I owe this visit?”

“Rin is unwell.”

The demoness snorted. “Am I supposed to care about that?”

Kagome’s hands balled into fists. Beside him, Sesshoumaru growled.

“We merely wish to visit your garden, mother,” he said, struggling to keep his temper in check. “There is a plant there that will ease her pain.”

The demoness heaved a sigh. “You really disappoint me, Sesshoumaru. It is not wise to grow so attached to humans. Even if you fetch this plant for her, she will die soon.”

The words rushed out before Kagome could bite them back. “A short life does not make it a meaningless one. And it’s never a weakness to care.”

The full weight of the demoness’ golden stare shifted onto Kagome.

“You are young, even for a human, and I have lived considerably longer than you have, girl. I know these things.”

Kagome lifted her chin. “You’d really think so, wouldn’t you? With all your experience, you should know better. And still you sound so ignorant.”

The demoness snarled, and her youki pulsed, pushing against Kagome like a dreadful gust of wind.

Kagome glared at her, and let her reiki rise. It swelled in one swift mad rush, like a tidal wave, and wound around Kagome; a cold shield of purity.

Surprise flashed briefly on Sesshoumaru’s mother’s face, then her eyes narrowed.

“Not just a human,” she said on a quiet tone dripping with exasperation, “but a miko. The company you keep these days, Sesshoumaru, does make me wonder.”

“Yes,” Kagome snapped, before Sesshoumaru could reply. “I’m a miko. So don’t try me. Now, Sesshoumaru and I are going to visit your garden, grab the plant we need, and get out of your hair. Any objections?”

The demoness leaned back in her seat, her face a blank mask reminiscent of Sesshoumaru’s. But for a fleeting second, emotion flashed in her eyes.

Was that…? No, Kagome couldn’t have seen right. There was no way that a lowly human – worse, a miko – snapping at her would amuse Sesshoumaru’s mother.

“If you insist,” she said, sounding bored now. “Be quick.”

Kagome started walking, before she realised she had no clue where the gardens actually were, and had to stop and wait for Sesshoumaru to take the lead.

They walked in silence; found the garden in question – a lovely oasis of greenery and blooming trees and flowerbeds. Kagome collected a couple of the white peonies, making sure to get their roots, while Sesshoumaru waited.

Then, after a curt warning, they were up in the air and on their way back to Edo.

Kagome was only glad they had not gone back around the castle exterior where they would have had to meet with Sesshoumaru’s mother one last time.

She was even gladder, when her feet touched the ground on the outskirts of Edo.

She let go of his pelt, then walked around to face him. “I don’t wanna be rude or anything, but your mom is a real piece of work.”

“Hnn. There is a reason why this Sesshoumaru rarely visits her.”

“Can’t blame you.”

“You have enough for the medicine?”

“Sure. I’ve never prepared it, but I should have the instructions somewhere. I’ve been writing Kaede’s remedies down for just these kinds of occasions.”

Sesshoumaru nodded stiffly, then met her eyes. “Thank you. For helping Rin.”

Now that was something Kagome had never thought she’d hear from his lips.

She flashed him a smile. “No problem. I’ll get right on it.”

It had been a rollercoaster of a day, she reflected as she hurried towards Kaede’s hut. But in the end, it had turned out all right.

End.

 

INUYASHA © Rumiko Takahashi/Shogakukan • Yomiuri TV • Sunrise 2000
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