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The Black Swan by floridfox

Un - Prologue

So this is my piece that I started FOREVER ago as a companion to my artwork "The Black Swan - Kagome". I'm actually thinking about cleaning up that work pretty soon, but anyway, I'm hoping you guys will enjoy this. I'm planning a fun twist in the next few chapters, and Sess/Kag will be forthcoming. 

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Kagome sighed as she inspected herself in the mirror. Her hair that typically flowed, wavy, down to her waist was straightened out and was in the midst of being pulled into a sleek pile atop her head. She looked on, almost detached, as the light powder being applied to her face seemed to give her an otherworldly glow. The pale gloss being painted on her lips was doing much the same, the makeup erasing the rosy blush usually present upon her cheeks.

Her transformation was nearly complete. She looked down, fingering the delicate silk of her gown, a luxurious material her father hadn’t seen fit to clothe her with until recently. It was dark as night and seemed weightless. She was glad of that, at least. Her heart was heavy enough without anything to bolster it.

“Father…” she tried, voice timid. “You’re…certain that this is how I should dress?”

“My little swan…” he intoned darkly, stepping beyond the threshold of the doorway to stand closer to her, dark curls shining in the dim candlelight, red eyes smoldering. “I am certain that Inuyasha will be unable to look away.”

Kagome ducked her head, knowing argument was futile. Of course Inuyasha would be entranced by her this evening. She was dressed in a way that made her look more willowy and tall, and her dress and makeup served to make her pale and glowing…much like Kikyou, her father’s prisoner.

Inuyasha would likely not see Kagome behind this moonlit mask. He would miss the fuller lips and rosy cheeks. His eyes would skip over the blue shine of her hair, her heart shaped face, and her small and soft figure.  Kagome didn’t understand. If Inuyasha wanted her… wouldn’t he want her looking like herself, not a shadow of Kikyou?

She was, however, new to the court. She had never caught sight of the glittering, gilded ladies, never seen the beautifully tailored men. Her father was the authority, the one who had served there as long as she could remember. She would listen to him, if it meant that she could finally be with her prince.

She allowed the servants to put the finishing touches on her face. Dark charcoal smoked her lids, causing her to appear so mysterious and daring. She looked like Kikyou…but not in the pure way the woman usually appeared. Her stomach clenched and she blinked very slowly, regaining her composure. She had no good feelings about this. She felt strangely trapped and panicked. Was this how it felt to have her dreams coming true?

Her father took in her finished appearance and smirked, catching a glossy strand of her hair that hung loose between his fingers. “Perfect.”

Uncomfortably, Kagome realized that she wasn’t sure if Naraku was actually referring to her.

***

 

She met Prince Inuyasha on the edge of the lake one summer evening. She had been picking moonflowers in the meadow that ran between the shore and the edge of the forest when he had stumbled out of the trees, hair tousled and unbound, searching the skies wildly with the most beautiful eyes she had ever seen. They were the color of burnished gold.

She had frozen, then, much like a doe caught in a hunter’s range. It took the man a moment to notice her, picked moonflowers scattered about her feet.

“Oi,” he said, voice rough but somehow gentle. “Didn’t mean to scare you. Have you seen a swan around here?”

Kagome swallowed. The boy seemed nice enough, but her father had warned her of men coming in search of the particular white swan that floated in their lake.

The swan, with her strangely melancholic beauty, had been sought out once before, her father had said, by a man named Onigumo. Her father explained that this man had come to a terrible end, and Kagome did not want to see history repeat itself, especially with this rather handsome silver haired youth.

“My apologies,” she replied, bending to retrieve her flowers. “but I have not seen any swans.”

“Damn,” he had muttered then, kicking at the dust upon the ground. He looked up at her then, and stared openly for a few moments. She was slight in figure, with dark hair that floated about her hips. With her back to the east, the woman was silhouetted by the moonlight, making it hard to see. “Kikyou?” he asked.

The girl in the ice blue gown shook her head slightly. “No, I am Kagome.” And at that moment a tentative friendship was born.

Many a night that summer Inuyasha would visit his dark haired friend. They would share stories and secrets whilst sitting astride the pebbly shore of the beautiful lake, which would often reflect the moon with a strangely mirrored quality. There were many times where Inuyasha was mesmerized by it, but Kagome barely paid it any mind. After all, she had lived along it her entire life. She was watchful of the swan, however.

She knew the secret behind the lily-white bird that often swam near the old willow tree across from Kagome’s meadow during the day. On nights where the moon hung low over the water, the swan could swim into its light and transform into a beautiful woman with creamy white skin, long dark hair, and sad eyes.

Kagome had known the woman since she was a child.  She knew little about Kikyou’s origins; her father had informed her in his typical vague manner that she was the daughter of a nobleman long perished and never to speak of it to her, lest she cause Kikyou to relive painful memories. She had been told about the curse, however, which had been cast long before Kagome had been born.

In addition to being ageless, Kikyou could only regain her human form if she remained in the lake when the moon rose over it, therefore meaning that she could never leave. She took the shape of the pure white swan at all other times. In all, Kikyou was in a very vulnerable position, something Kagome never forgot.

She loved soft-spoken Kikyou with all of her ethereal beauty, and so swore to herself to protect the sister of her heart at all costs.

Kagome was no simpleton. She knew that Inuyasha had been searching for Kikyou on that night with the moonflowers. As much as she enjoyed the company of her half demon friend, she would often catch him scanning the skies or listening for some clue that Kikyou was nearby. She gleaned from Inuyasha that the two had been betrothed at a young age, and it was with an air of guilt that she kept Kikyou and Inuyasha apart.

As Kagome was a very loving girl, she held the two close to her heart. Her father paid her little to no mind, content to allow his daughter free reign over the sprawling grounds, and so she kept her secret. It was Kikyou her father watched carefully. She knew if Inuyasha were to be reunited with her, her father would surely find out, which likely meant punishment for herself and Kikyou, not to mention probable injury for Inuyasha.

Her father, Naraku, was overprotective to a fault in some ways, yet absent in several others. In her twenty years of age, she had seen him fly into enough rages to know that the knowledge of a strange boy entering his grounds habitually should be closely guarded.

Summer turned into autumn, and winter followed soon after that. Kagome found that she was no longer befriending Inuyasha to serve as a distraction.  His casual manner and rough exterior drew her in, and before long Kagome found herself smitten. So blinded was she by love that she failed to notice the swan one icy evening as she landed on the still water of the lake.

That night, Kagome waited many hours for her half demon, slowly growing more worried and despondent. Out of the corner of her eye, she noticed the figure of her father walking along the store, wrapped in his luxurious furs. Kagome pulled her own cloak closer as he approached her.

“My daughter,” he said, “why do you look so melancholy? I have some news that should please you.”

“You do?” she asked, wiping a tear from her blue-gray eyes and moving to stand before him.

“My little swan,” he said to her, a smirk about his features. “Deceiving me has never been your strong suit. I know what you have been doing behind my back with that half demon.”

Kagome froze, thinking that perhaps she had missed the sarcastic quality of his voice, but Naraku’s smile wasn’t as vicious as usual.

“I was pleasantly surprised to see how well you distracted him from Kikyou. You did so well, in fact that…” he trailed off momentarily, tucking a stray hair behind her ear. “…the half demon prince approached me and asked for your hand in marriage.”

A slow smile overtook her face then, slightly disbelieving. “He has?”

Naraku nodded. “He will announce it to the entire kingdom tomorrow night, and I plan to send you to his castle looking like the princess you will become.”

After living without the kind of fatherly influence she assumed most people enjoyed, her father’s sudden and wonderful acceptance of her, paired with Inuyasha’s proposal, caused her to smile broadly and follow his lead without question.

It was easy to do so until she began dressing for the event, at which point she started to notice how much like Kikyou she was made to look. Rationally, logically, she knew that Naraku had to have some ulterior motive, but she chose to ignore it in favor of the soft, warm feelings of love.

To be surprised by Inuyasha’s proposal would be an understatement. They had never done anything except the occasional hug or even rarer hand-holding; frankly nothing to suggest marriage, of all things. But, she thought, looking at her changed appearance, it was something she desired…perhaps the only thing she had ever truly wanted.

If she were married, she would be free of her father forever.  She would no longer have to endure his drunken rages or his mostly absent, manipulative, twisted form of fatherly affection.

At that moment it did not occur to Kagome that she should be more delighted about her groom than the notion of escape.

 

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