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A Miko's Prince Charming by Bee Ray

Party Planning

“Don’t be nervous, cricket. She’ll love you,” Kagome’s father smiled down at her, stroking her long black hair soothingly, “everyone else does.”

The little girl smiled at him, her blue eyes shining. “Okay daddy. I love you.”

He laughed and kissed the top of her head, “I love you too, cricket.”

There was a knock at the door, and Kagome’s father moved to open it. Kagome heard a female voice, and then the voice of a child. He moved aside to let them in, and Kagome stood face to face with her new family.

“Hello, Kagome,” her new mother, Kagura, crooned, reaching a hand out. “It is so nice to meet you.”

Kagome blushed and bowed her head, reaching out to take the offered hand. It was cold to the touch, and Kagome had to stop herself from pulling back in surprise. Kagura pulled her forward, setting her to face her own daughter.

“This is Kikyo,” the other girl bowed and gazed at Kagome solemnly. The girls could have been looking in to a mirror had it not been for the stark contrast in their eyes. Dancing blue orbs stared into dull brown ones. “Kikyo this is your new sister, dear.” Kikyo continued to stare silently. “She’s a bit shy, Kagome.”

“That’s alright, Kag- mother” Kagome amended quickly. “I’m sure we’ll be best friends!” Kagome moved to embrace her new sister, and Kikyo awkwardly returned the gesture, staring at her mother. Kagura smiled, the expression not quite reaching her red, baleful eyes.

“I’m sure you will.”

---

Kagome sat back on her heels, admiring her work. White petals of silk thread fell elegantly from the right shoulder to the hem of the sky-blue kimono. A black tree branch supporting blooms creeped from the right sleeve up to the neckline. Her latest had taken several days, but it showed in the beauty of the garment. She stood, stretching her sore arms and legs with a satisfied sigh.

Her basking was cut abrubtly short when the door to her room slammed open. “What are you doing lazing about in here?!” Kagura snapped.

Kagome sighed and bowed her head, long black hair falling in her face. “I was just finishing the kimono, mother.”

Kagura’s red eyes flashed angrily, “Well its finished, obviously. Get it packed and get water up here. Kikyo and I are hungry.” She turned to leave, mumbling about Kagome’s laziness as she stomped back down the hall. “And when you’ve finished lunch, the kitchen needs scrubbed, and we have clothes that need washed!” she called back

Kagome carefully folded the kimono and took it to the front room of their home. She wrapped the kimono in paper and tied it with string, leaving it to sit on a table beside the window with another two finished orders waiting for pick up.  Lately her mother had taken on extra work for her, and Kagome had been working nonstop for almost a month. This kimono was the last of them for now, and she vainly hoped she might get a week of reprieve before having a new slough of tasks piled on top of her normal chores. Kagome heard her mother stomping down the hall and quickly slipped out of house. She skipped to the back of the house and retrieved her bucket, continuing toward the river before her mother could stop her with another lecture.

Kagome picked her way through the sparse woods, enjoying the peace of nature. This time of late spring always reminded her of her late father. She stooped down and picked a white flower from the base of a tree, tucking it behind her ear. Before long there was a break in the trees and she came to her spot on the river. There was a bend that created a calm pool near the shore, while the rest of the water rushed past a few yards out. She knelt at the bank and cupped her hands. Enjoying a cool drink before filling her bucket.

“Kagome? Is that you?” a female voice called from beyond the trees.

“Sango!” Kagome called back. “Yes, I’m over here!” A tall woman stepped out of the woods with a sack of laundry over one shoulder. “Oh, let me help you!” Kagome left her bucket and rushed to take the clothes from Sango, hauling them over to the water’s edge. “Wow quite a load today!”

“Yes, Ito’s wife is laid up with her baby due any day. I’m helping with some of their housework while she’s resting. What about you I haven’t seen you in a week!” Sango wrapped her in a hug, her bulging stomach pressing into Kagome.

“Speaking of babies!” Kagome laughed, tickling the side of Sango’s belly. Sango slapped her hands away, laughing with her friend. “Well mother took on extra work, so I’ve been tied up with that.”

Sango sighed. “Kagome you can’t let your mother push you around forever.”

“I have no where to go, Sango. I don’t have a dashing husband to sweep me off my feet.” Sango blushed, running her hands over her stomach. “Besides, its not all bad. I do enjoy my work.”

“Yes, but wouldn’t you rather make something for yourself? Or wear more than rags at least?” Sango tugged at the sleeve of her kimono. Rough and made from brown cotton, it was threadbare. There were clear areas where it had been patched, and it was ever so slightly too small for her. Her dark grey obi was in no better shape. “You make such beautiful kimono, why can’t you make one for yourself? Even some cheap material would make something better than this!”

Kagoma pulled away, tugging at her sleeves self-consciously. “You know why, Sango,” she said, her voice quiet and solemn. Sango nodded, heaving a heavy sigh. Kagome gathered up her bucket and forced a smile to her only friend. “I have to make dinner, but I’ll try to hurry down with my own laundry and give you a hand when I’m finished!”

“Oh, Kagome. We don’t deserve you. No one does.” Sango wrapped Kagome in a final hug, before turning to her washing.

Kagome picked her way back through the trees toward home, dinner, laundry, and plenty of scrubbing waiting for her with her family.

---

“You are dismissed.”

The lady wolf demon sat in stunned silence, too shocked to move. Sesshomaru’s golden eyes raised from his tea cup, skewering her with their icy glare. A deafening silence reigned. After what felt like eternity, she rose from her seat at the table, and bowed hastily before retreating through the door, practically running down the hall to escape the taiyoukai’s stare.

“You do not approve, my son?” Inutaisho sipped his own tea, watching his son over his glass. His own golden eyes betrayed more than a little annoyance at his eldest’s latest antic.

“Hn.” Sesshomaru continued drinking, maintaining his cool silence.

“Sesshomaru, you cannot go unmated forever. I grow weary of this game.” Inutaisho set his cup down more forcefully than necessary. “What possible standards could you have that not one of the past twenty ladies could not meet?”

Sesshomaru was silent. “They did not agree with me,” he said after a pregnant pause.

His father scoffed. “They are not a piece of bad meat, Sesshomaru. They are future mates, the future mother of your children, the security of my lineage. And you will have one!” Sesshomaru set his own cup on the table, bristling at the comment. “You know the consequences if you do not provide an heir to secure our line.”

“You wouldn’t dare,” Sesshomaru hissed.

“I would. And I will.” The Dog General rose from the table, stalking toward the door. “I will give you one last chance to find a bride you find suitable.” Sesshomaru turned to stare at him, listening intently. “We will hold a festival for your birthday. If you cannot find a mate by the end of it, your brother will take your place as my heir.” Sesshomaru’s eyes narrowed. “Who knows, perhaps he will have better luck with the ladies!” And with that, Inutaisho swept out of the room, calling for retainers as he continued down the hall. “We are having a festival, bring the necessary advisors to my study after dinner. We have plans to make.”

Sesshomaru sat at his table, glaring at his cooling tea. He did not want a mate. Females were fickle and irritating. They prattled on mercilessly about the most inane things, and made no secret that they only wanted him for his position and physical attractiveness. He was above this. He was a great inuyoukai, the crown prince of the west. Well, not for much longer it seemed. He rose gracefully from the table and headed toward the dojo. Sparring always improved his mood, and at this moment he was in a foul mood for sure.

---

Kagome scrubbed at the shoji screen with her rag, making the wooden frame gleam in the early morning sun pouring from a window. She heard the raised voices of her step mother and sister and stifled a sigh. She continued her shining, praying that she would avoid the backlash of whatever had upset them today. They entered the house breathless and chattering a mile a minute. Both had wide eyes and flushed cheeks, excitement radiating from them both.

“Six days! I’ll need six different ones!”

“What colors, we must pick the colors soon! All the good fabric will be bought up if we aren’t quick!” Kagura exclaimed excitedly.

“Perhaps flowers, flowers are beautiful and elegant. I hear he wears flowers on his own kimono!”

Kagome stopped, watching the conversation with interest. What on earth were they talking about? “Mother?”

The two women stopped, turning toward Kagome with cooling expressions. “Ah Kagome good, you don’t look busy,” Kagura sneered, “We have a job for you.” Kagome gulped, she didn’t like the sound of that. “We need six kimono made for your sister before the next quarter moon. On the first day of the waning crescent the Dog General is holding a festival to find a lady for his eldest son. And your sister is going to be that lady.” Kagura smiled wickedly.

Kagome smiled as well, but hers radiated warmth. “Oh, Kikyo, that’s wonderful!” Kagome moved to embrace her, but Kikyo pulled away.

“What are you doing?” Kikyo snapped. “You have work to do! The full moon is five days from now, we need to get to work if I’m going to ensnare the prince of the west. Get your shoes, we need to go select fabric and start working.”

Kagome almost squealed in delight. She was so rarely allowed to accompany the two women to town. Sango was her only friend, and her mother would have had a fit if she knew about her. Kagura and Kikyo turned back to designing her glorious kimono, heading back out of the home down the path to the village. Kagome slipped on her shoes and ran after them, doing her best not to stumble over the threshold as she went.

 

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