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A Lesson in Love by Avi

A Lesson in Love

“Kagome-chan!”

The miko glanced over her shoulder, from her herbs, at the little girl who was dashing towards her waving and laughing excitedly.

“Hello, Rin-chan!” Kagome smiled at the girl as she stopped before her and spun in a circle.

“Kagome-chan! Look at the new kimono Sesshoumaru-sama brought to me!”

“It’s beautiful, Rin-chan,” she laughed. “It’s so kind of your lord to bring you such lovely gifts!”

Rin stopped spinning and looked up at Kagome, adoration sparkling in her brown eyes. “Sesshoumaru-sama has always been kind to me! He saved my life and cared for me when I had nowhere else to go.”

“You must miss him terribly now that you live away from him.”

“I do. But I know that he will visit and that makes me happy!”

“He’s like a father to you?”

Rin nodded, a large, innocent smile on her face. “Yes! I love him very much!”

Kagome gave the child a soft smile. “I can tell. And I am certain he feels the same for you.”

A childish giggle left Rin’s lips as she bounced lightly. “I am going to go show my friends! Goodbye, Kagome-chan!”

Kagome waved to the little girl as she dashed off. Once she was out of sight, Kagome sighed and smiled to herself, memories of the past floating through her head.

“Who would have thought? He was so cold and hateful when I first met him. Yet he has earned the love of an innocent child.”

 

 

Evening settled over Edo village. The midsummer air was warm and refreshing with a soft, cool breeze that rustled through the trees. Kagome made her way to the edge of the village to sit in the grass on the hillside and watch the sunset as she did every night. As she approached her favorite spot she found it was already occupied.

He stood, regally, looking out towards the west. He was still and silent, the wind blowing softly through his silver-white hair and gently brushing the tips of the fur that covered his mokomoko. With a soft smile she approached the daiyoukai.

“Good evening, Sesshoumaru-sama.”

“Hn.” He kept his eyes to the west, never turning to glance at her.

Kagome stepped up beside him, watching the skyline as the sun inched its way towards the horizon. “Rin showed me the kimono you brought her. It’s lovely.”

Sesshoumaru bowed his head slightly. “It suits her.”

“It’s very kind of you to bring her gifts. She loves it when you come to visit.”

“She is my ward. It is my duty to care and provide for her.”

“Still, you do so out of kindness. You don’t have to, but you do.”

A calm, comfortable silence fell over them as they watched the colors of the sunset slowly begin to paint the sky with a soft pink hue. Kagome looked down as the first fireflies of the evening began to dance through the field below the hill. From her peripheral she caught the graceful movement of Sesshoumaru as he lowered himself to the ground and settled comfortably in the grass.

“Do you ever miss her?” Kagome broke the silence after a few moments.

Sesshoumaru spared the miko a side glance from the corner of his eye before focusing on the skyline, once more. “I am able to visit her when I please.”

“That’s not what I asked.” Kagome turned to him, a small frown marring her soft features.

Sesshoumaru returned the frown but still did not respond. Kagome let out a soft huff before settling herself into the grass beside him.

“Don’t you wish she was still traveling with you?”

Still, she was met with silence.

“Is it because she’s human?”

Another glance spared her way caused her to hum lightly in understanding.

“You’ve become more open-minded, Sesshoumaru. Yet you still hold this bias. I know you care for Rin, yet you still can’t accept that she is human.”

“Humans are weak. I cannot…” He was interrupted by a soft scoff from the miko.

“How can you hate something for what it did not choose to be?”

Sesshoumaru turned to Kagome, his brow furrowed in confusion. “Excuse me?”

Kagome leaned back, bracing herself on the palms of her hands, and looked back to the skyline. “Did you choose to be born male?”

Sesshoumaru quirked an eyebrow. “Certainly this woman has gone mad…”

“Of course not! How could I possibly request my gender prior to conception?”

“Well, did you ask to be born inu?”

“Miko, you make no…”

“Or daiyoukai?”

“Woman, cease your incoherent babbling and explain yourself!”

“Rin didn’t ask to be born human, Sesshoumaru.”

Kagome nearly chuckled at the way the daiyoukai uncharacteristically gawked at her.

“Of course she didn’t! That’s absurd!”

“Then how could you hate her for it?”

“I do not hate Rin. Humans are simply weak and inferior.”

“And what if fate had turned out differently? You could have been the second born, you know. InuYasha could have been born daiyoukai and you hanyou.”

This time Kagome did laugh. The look of confusion on the normally stoic inu’s face was too much for her. She could nearly hear the gears turning as he contemplated what she had said, yet he still couldn’t understand.

“Sesshoumaru-sama, we don’t choose our fate. We don’t get to decide our gender, species, or rank. I could have been born a princess or a boy. I could have been born as a bird. I could have been born another nationality entirely. But I wasn’t. This is what I became. I had no say. No choice. Just as InuYasha did not ask to be conceived at all, let alone as a hanyou. And Rin did not ask to be born as a little, human girl.”

Sesshoumaru opened his mouth to speak, but promptly shut it and looked away, focusing on a small ant that crawled through the grass near his feet. He wanted to think of a retort. He wanted to come up with a logical excuse for his own opinions. Yet he could not. The miko had a point. No one could choose their fate and it was unfair to judge them for what they could not control. He closed his eyes and sighed deeply.

“Humans and hanyou are still weak. Perhaps I have no reason to hate them for what they are, but youkai still hold a superiority to them.”

“What of lesser youkai?”

“You are persistent, miko.”

“Because I still don’t understand this prejudice, Sesshoumaru. Weakness can’t be labeled based on species.”

“I look down on lesser youkai as well.”

“But lesser youkai are still stronger than humans?”

“Most are, yes.”

“Most?”

Realizing his mistake, Sesshoumaru shut his eyes tightly and suppressed a groan.

“So, you are implying that there are some lesser youkai that are weaker than humans?”

After a moment, Sesshoumaru sighed, finding the ant he had been watching, before, as it began to ascend the roots of a small tree, nearby. “I cannot deny that there are, indeed, lesser youkai weaker than humans.”

“Which makes your point moot. This means that youkai, in general, are not superior to humans.”

“Go on, miko. I’m certain you have more to say.”

“There’s no need to be rude,” she huffed. “But yes, I have more.”

Sesshoumaru shook his head and looked back to the tree as the ant skittered across a low branch.

“Some humans are weaker than others just as some youkai are weaker.”

“Hn.”

“Females of either species are considered weaker than the males, as well. Yet they are still respected.”

“Not always.” He absently followed the ant, with his eyes, as it scurried down the tree with a collected leaf.

Kagome huffed. “No, not always. But that’s not the point. Some youkai respect humans, too. But ‘not always’.” He quirked his eyebrow at her poor imitation of him, yet he found it somewhat amusing. “The point is, even within our own species, others are considered weaker, but they can still be respected.”

“Acceptable logic, miko. Yet you are only speaking of each species individually. A youkai of my caliber could destroy a human with ease,” he responded, never taking his eyes off the small ant.

“And a miko of my caliber could destroy a youkai with ease. Regardless of who is destroying who, it depends on the strength of those involved.”

“Perhaps,” he reluctantly agreed.

Kagome caught sight of the ant that had Sesshoumaru’s attention. “Ants are amazing creatures, you know.”

Sesshoumaru glanced at the miko. “They are pests.”

“Maybe so. But they are still amazing. Did you know that an ant can carry up to five-thousand times its own body weight?”

Sesshoumaru quirked a brow, curiously.

“They’re extremely intelligent, too. Ants have been known to construct bridges and other architecture out of their own bodies in order to assist one another. They may even sacrifice their own lives to make it possible.”

“Interesting.” He watched the ant scurry along, carrying its leaf above its body.

“It’s true they’re pests and humans tend to try to get rid of them, but I have to admire and respect them for abilities. For something so small and insignificant, they are strong and carry many accomplishments.”

“Clever miko. She is using ants to symbolize humanity.” Sesshoumaru couldn’t help the small smile that formed on his face. “I understand, miko. So, you are saying that youkai should respect humans due to their intellect and abilities. However, respect is not the same as liking.”

“Respect is a start. But not hating something doesn’t mean you have to like it, either.”

“I simply do not like humans.”

“I don’t believe that. I believe you dislike weak humans. Afterall, you love Rin. And you’ve shown me respect since…”

Sesshoumaru scoffed, silencing Kagome instantly. “Miko, I do not love. I may be able to agree with you about humans. There are strong humans as well as weak. I may be able to respect humanity for this and put hatred aside. However, love is a weakness. It is a foolish emotion.”

“That’s not true! Love isn’t weak at all!”

“Love is what got my father killed, miko. It weakened him. It placed him in danger.”

Kagome shook her head and smiled gently at the daiyoukai. “I don’t believe that, Sesshoumaru. I believe your father was the strongest he had ever been.”

“Explain, then, miko. You’ve had an explanation for everything else.”

Kagome scowled slightly at the daiyoukai’s attitude, but chose to ignore it. “Your father fought to protect Izayoi and InuYasha. He may have died in the process, but he still fought with all his might right to the end.”

“I don’t understand. How could one be defeated if they were using their full strength.”

“Did he succeed in protecting them?”

“Of course.”

“One doesn’t have to survive in order to be triumphant. They just have to succeed in achieving the goal they set out to complete. Your father’s goal was to protect his family, and he succeeded.”

Sesshoumaru turned away from her, then, looking out onto the horizon. The sun was barely visible, the soft pinks fading into the deep blues of the night. A few stars began to speckle the sky.

“A person only finds weakness near the ones he loves. When you can be yourself, lower your defenses and just relax in their presence. That’s when you’re the weakest in regards to love.”

“Then where does the strength lie?”

“You want to protect Rin, don’t you?”

“Of course.”

“Would you fight for her?”

“I would.”

“Would you march straight into hell for her?”

“I have.”

Bewildered blue eyes met with fierce, determined gold. It took several moments before Kagome could speak again.

“Sesshoumaru? You…”

“Rin was stolen away to the meido, once. I brought her back… but I was too late. When I realized she had no life left within her I…” Sesshoumaru paused as he contemplated for a moment. He turned thoughtful, wide eyes to Kagome. “I felt weak…”

“How did she return?”

“My mother. She brought her back. I realized, then, that nothing was worth Rin’s life. I knew she was worth protecting.”

“Your strength returned with her life.”

Sesshoumaru nodded.

“How far would you be willing to go to protect Rin?”

“I would die for her, miko.”

“As your father did for Izayoi?”

Silence befell them, once again, as the sun finally disappeared below the horizon. Only a hint of color remained in the darkened sky. Stars dotted the sky thoroughly, now, and the light of the waning crescent moon cast a faint glow along the hillside. Several minutes passed before Sesshoumaru broke the silence.

“Tell me what it is to feel love.”

Kagome thought for a moment, searching for her words. “Well, when you love someone, you desire their happiness.” He nodded his understanding and she continued. “You want what’s best for them and you will do what’s right for them before yourself. You want them to be happy, even if it’s not with yourself. Yet you just want to hold them and care for them with all your might. That’s love.”

She waited for his response, yet it never came. His warm honey eyes bore into her with mindfulness and unspoken thoughts. She blushed at the attention and turned away. Dusting off her hakamas, she rose to her feet and turned back to him.

“Well, I suppose I better return to the village.” She bowed to the daiyoukai, respectfully. “Goodnight, Sesshoumaru-sama.”

He watched her, intently, as she walked away. The moonlight reflected softly off her ebony hair and pale skin giving her a near ethereal glow. His eyes remained glued to her form until she was out of his sight.

“You are correct, miko,” he spoke softly to the air. “Not all humans are weak. Some are deserving of my respect and compassion. Humans like Rin. Humans like yourself.” He rose to his feet. “If what you speak of love is true-” He descended the hill, leaving the village “-then I have loved you for some time now, Kagome.”

 

 

 

Author’s Note: Thank you to my beautiful new beta and old friend, Yoru! I’ve kind of had this story in mind for a few months. Since I haven’t had time to write another chapter of A Walk in the Park, yet, I decided to go ahead and get this written as a oneshot. I’m not sure when I’ll get chapter 6 of AWitP written just yet, however. I’m working on a large art project over on dA. Once it’s finished, I’ll get back to work on the fic. If you want to check out the project, you can find me on dA at Avi-the-Avenger.

 

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