First Comes Marriage by Chiaztolite

The First Meeting

Author's Notes:

Omiai: the meeting between a woman and a man who are introduced to each other to consider the possibility of marriage.


End of September

Present time

The matchmaker had asked if Kagome would accept a yōkai match and she said yes.

But, now, as Kagome sat on the tatami floor, seiza-style in her best kimono, she felt anxiety getting the best of her. Her match had not even arrived, yet her palms were already damp. She could feel beads of sweat gathering underneath the soft hairs on her nape despite the cool, brisk weather. Her obi was so tight around her midsection, she thought she could asphyxiate at any moment.

The matchmaker had arranged their first meeting at the private room of an extremely traditional, extremely respectable restaurant in the quiet section of Otemachi district in Tokyo. If one looked out the window and squinted, one could almost make out the roof outline of the Imperial Palace. An extremely old restaurant, it had been established sometime in the late 1700s. Back in the day, it was one of the first establishments in the country that catered to both humans and yōkai. It maintained such clientele until this day.

Needless to say, it was also extremely fancy. Uptight. And expensive.

She put a hand to her temple, exhaling the deep breath she had been holding without even realizing.

They were to have tea.

To soothe her frayed nerves, she forced her eyes to admire the beautiful garden sprawled beyond the open lattice screens to her left. There were evergreen bushes and colourful maple trees dotting the scenery. Their shapely leaves had just turned brilliant yellow, orange, and red that heralded the arrival of autumn. There were weeping willow trees swaying gently in the distance, and arched wooden bridges over ponds with koi fishes swimming about. Somewhere farther away, there was the sound of water trickling into a bamboo tube, filling it to the brim until it rocked down and hit a stone with a satisfying plunk.

And then it started all over again.

Usually, Kagome found the watery sounds of sōzu soothing. But today, it grated on her nerves. She rubbed her forehead to ward-off an impending headache, careful to not mess up the light make-up she had applied.

There was a soft rap at the screen doors to her right. The matchmaker entered the room and approached her side bearing a card. It was a simple white card, which she placed on the table in front of her. On it, the name of her match for today was printed:

Inuzuka Sesshōmaru.

Kagome felt her heart sinking into the deep pit of her stomach. She had thought it odd that the matchmaker would not release even his name prior to the meeting.

Now, she understood.

Sesshōmaru, as she had known him in feudal era, had been a daiyōkai of the western lands. Inuyasha’s half-brother. A greatly respected demon, equally feared, for the purity of his bloodline, his swordsmanship, his prowess in battles. His ruthless, impassioned views on lesser beings.

This modern day Sesshōmaru was equally revered. Because he was a rich and successful entrepreneur. Because he was a high-profile, important political figure, especially when it came to human-yōkai relations, being one of the oldest and most powerful full-blooded yōkai alive.

They had zero interactions since she returned to the modern world. She learned of him from newspaper and magazine articles, or the news reports on the television. She was happy to know he survived, and even flourished. But this… This was bound to be an awkward meeting, one she so eagerly wished to avoid.

Her legs were itching to stand up and run. If she hurried and left the restaurant before he arrived, their paths would not cross. He would consider it a gross insult, perhaps. But, once he discovered who his match was, he might be relieved she had decided to walk away and prevented embarrassment for them both.

Kagome placed her palms on the table and started rising to her feet. But, before she rose to full height, the doors opened again. This time, he stepped into the room.

The moment their eyes met, her blood turned to ice in her veins.

Too late.

With unwavering grace and poise, he sat down opposite from her at the table. He did not avoid her widened stare, but instead returned it squarely, looking neither shocked nor perturbed to find her there. He even inclined his head in greeting. If he had seen her gaping, he made no comment of it.

The matchmaker took her place at the head of the table. She bowed, and launched into a series of introduction. Nothing too personal or specific, hinting at nothing about real characters of the two people involved. After a few minutes, it became redundant. Kagome did not know Sesshōmaru well, but the matchmaker’s introduction provided her with no more insights to his life or his personality beyond what she had already gathered herself.

Perhaps he felt the same.

“No introduction is necessary,” Sesshōmaru said, rather curtly, intercepting the matchmaker’s smooth script. Kagome bit the inside of her cheek to hold back a smile. He was as forthcoming as he had always been.

The matchmaker paused; the slightest hint of surprise showing briefly in the arch of her brow before she smoothed her expression.

“Of course,” she said, inclining her head and giving them both a low bow. “I will leave the two of you to get reacquainted.”


A curious choice of word. How did the matchmaker know they were acquainted? The word echoed in Kagome’s mind as she quietly, and nervously, watched the matchmaker backing away before leaving the room completely and shutting the screen doors closed.

That left her and the daiyōkai of the western lands, as he was known before, enclosed inside the private room. Together.

A bead of sweat trickled along her nape and trailed down along her lower back.

As far as Omiai went, this was very unusual. Although this was Kagome’s first time, she knew they were not supposed to be left alone so early during the meeting. Each of them was also entitled to bring a companion to help break the ice and smooth away any awkwardness that was often inevitable in first meetings. But Sesshōmaru did not bring anyone with him, and the matchmaker had requested that she arrived alone.

Kagome thought of that word again: reacquainted. She supposed that was what they had been: acquaintances. Or reluctant allies, towards the end.

How long had it been? A little over five hundred years? It had been five years since she returned to the modern era. She was twenty-four now. No longer that doe-eyed, guileless teenage girl. Now she bore scars so deep not even a daiyōkai with keen sight could see.

Thank goodness for small mercies.

They had not spoken since the day of the final battle with Naraku, when they were both trapped inside their mutual enemy’s bowel. Sesshōmaru had protected her while she had been unconscious. Then, as they searched for Inuyasha, he had allowed her to hold on to the tail end of his mokomoko.

She stole a peek at him. He seemed to be studying each element of the room with critical eye. His findings, whatever they were, somehow caused a thin crease of frown to appear on his forehead.

Kagome bit her lower lip. How were they to resume conversation now? Not that they ever conversed to begin with.

She looked down upon her folded hands and noticed a chipped nail. Surreptitiously, she curled the offending finger into her palm.

Just hiding another imperfection. No big deal.

Sneaking another peek at him, she thought to herself: he had no trouble with achieving perfection. He never had. Even with his glamour on, he was resplendent.

Hair as black as midnight it appeared nearly indigo. A smooth, unlined face. His face, just minus the markings. Just like in the photos she had seen, he wore a pair of spectacles with simple black rim.

Those magazine photos and newspaper prints did not do him justice, of course. They could not even display his eye colour properly. On those two-dimensional prints, his eyes appeared dark brown. But, in real life, they were much lighter and more luminescent than merely brown. A brilliant hazelnut shade. A dark, honeyed amber. Like molten caramel.

As a yōkai he had been ethereal in his beauty. Potently intimidating. As a human, he was easier to look at. More down to earth, even if he remained heartbreakingly handsome.

He was no longer dressed in his feudal-era regalia, but in modern-day equivalent of the same good taste in outfits. The suit he wore most likely had cost him four months of her combined income, at the minimum. His watch – no, his timepiece, must have cost at least two years of her earnings. She had not seen his shoes yet, but she would wager they were equally fine.  

He adjusted his spectacles and let out a nearly imperceptible sigh. She noticed the slight exhale only because she had been attuned to his every move.

Was it a displeased sigh, or…?

“Would it be preferable if we go outside and stroll in the gardens?” He spoke. His voice: rich and silky baritone, caressed her from across the table.

He asked the question as though he knew how uncomfortable she felt.

“Yes… Sesshōmaru.”

His eyes swept over her the moment she called his name. A nameless something passed through his expression, but he said nothing. He gave her a brisk nod, and they both rose from the floor and headed towards the gardens.

Two pairs of slippers had been provided at the entrance to the gardens, as though the restaurant, or the matchmaker, or someone, had anticipated they would be moved to explore the outdoors.

There were a few tall steps just as they entered garden paths. She stared at them in mild horror. Her kimono was so tight around her hips she could barely lift her knees. It would take a bit of maneuvering. She only prayed she would not embarrass herself.  

Without a word, he offered her his hand.

She looked at him first, at his expressionless mien, before lowering her gaze to his proffered hand. It was large, tipped with elegantly manicured nails. If he had no glamour on, she would have seen these fingers topped with sharp, deadly claws. Dripping with acid.

He could really hurt her with his hand.

She placed her palm in his and let him help her through the steps.

“Is this your first Omiai?” She asked after they had strolled for some time in silence.

“Yes. The matchmaker had sent several prospects in the past, but this is the first time I have agreed to a meeting.” He peered at her sideways. “I reckon this is your first as well.”

So— did you know it was me all along?

She wet her lower lip and nodded. “First prospect and first match.”

He was silent for a while before he spoke again. “I hope I am not a disappointment.”

She nearly burst into laughter. Him? A disappointment?

She shook her head, tempering her urge to laugh into a tiny smile.

“I was just… surprised,” she said. “I never thought you would be involved in something like this.”

The corners of his lips curled up into a wintry smirk. “I blame my mother. This is one of her many schemes to get me saddled with a mate.”

It seemed a yōkai mother was not unlike a human mother, Kagome thought with mild amusement. Her own mother would have done the same, probably.

“I also did not expect you to agree to a match with a human,” she pointed out.

“It has political advantages,” he replied dispassionately. “Having a human mate will strengthen my position in the yōkai council, which members are all in favour for symbiosis with the humans.”

Kagome nodded in understanding. From the many articles she had read in the papers, she knew he was an important figure in improving human-yōkai relations. Even after centuries, the fight to achieve peaceful co-existence between humans and yōkai was still ongoing. It was slowly getting better, but the road before them was long and undoubtedly riddled with obstacles. He would be setting an example by taking a human mate, in the hopes that many of his kind would follow suit.

“I find it difficult to believe you require the service of a matchmaker to find yourself a human, yōkai, or hanyō willing to take you on,” she told him, half-teasing.

“I use the service of a matchmaker because I do not want just anyone. I am looking for a human woman with exacting standards,” he clarified. After a slight pause, he added: “I wish for strong children. My blood alone will ensure it, though it will be better if their mother is also powerful. Thus, I specified my match to be a woman in possession of significant abilities. In this case,” He perused her from head to toe.

“The matchmaker might be right on the mark, for once,” he finished.

Kagome knew his words were not meant as a compliment, but they suffused her with warmth and pride nevertheless, hollow as it was.

She had met the matchmaker during a festival at the shrine where she worked part-time, crafting small good-luck charms, and infusing them with different kinds of spells. The matchmaker had watched from a distance for a while before the woman approached her to ask if she would consider being matched.

Apparently, many of her clients had requested a match with a female of spiritual abilities. And Kagome, a trained priestess, even if it was only on part-time basis, seemed like a good candidate.

Kagome knew she was not in a good place to take on a new partner, but loneliness had eaten away at her, chipping the defences she had erected around her little by little. In the end, it had become unbearable. She had terrible taste in men and even worse in her choice for a partner. Considering her past relationships had been disastrous, she thought: why not trust a professional for once?

She just never expected to be matched with Sesshōmaru. The first time, no less. Or that he would be looking for a human woman with spiritual power in the first place.

“Have you been honing your reiryoku?” He suddenly asked.

The mere mention of her power sent a punch to her gut. She took a deep breath to steady herself.

“As much as I’m able to,” she lied. “But between one full-time and two part-time jobs, I could barely find a spare moment to catch a breath, much less advance my reiki.”  

After what happened to her, she did not want to use her power again. Ever. But, when the shrine asked if she could use her reiki to infuse some popular spells into charms, she had no choice but to comply. She could not afford to lose any of her jobs. And sometimes, at night, when she was alone in her bed while the rest of the world continued on outside, she would release a small amount of energy and let the rosy pink swirls wrap around her, cocooning her. It made her feel less alone. Made her feel better, even just for a while.

That was about the extent she used her power nowadays.  

No more slaying demons. No more hunting for jewel shards. No more purifying evil spirits.

“I am sorry,” Sesshōmaru said quietly, scattering her thoughts.

Kagome blinked as she returned to the present. She realized they had stopped walking.

“For what?”

“When I discovered—“ He paused and pursed his lips. “When I heard your entire family was killed in a car crash, I wanted to pay my condolences.” He stared at her with a heavy, indecipherable expression on his face. “I should have. But I didn’t.”

Kagome was stunned for a moment. She did not think he knew. Or cared. Shaking her head, she said: “No, it’s okay. After all, you and I were never… close. And you’ve never met them. So…” She let her voice trailed into silence.

“How did you hear about it?” She asked as they resumed their stroll.

“Inuyasha told me, at first. Then, I read about it in the papers.” Another pause. “And some time after, I also read Higurashi shrine was sold—“

She turned away sharply, more abrupt than she had intended, pretending to admire a cluster of yellow chrysanthemums.

Inuyasha knew, she thought. Her heartbeats accelerated within her chest. He knew, but he never came to see her, or contacted her. Even though it had been a while, somehow, the knowledge still hurt her.

“Do you see Inuyasha and Kikyō often?” She asked, as she busied herself with touching a bloom or two.

At the mention of those names, like spectres of the past, the daiyōkai heaved a deep sigh behind her. “Miko, let us not muddy the water by discussing Inuyasha and that woman.”

Surprisingly, what struck her the most was not the fact he did not wish to speak of his half-brother and that half-brother’s wife. It was the use of her old title that brought long-buried memories to the fore. Miko. She could not remember the last time someone had called her such. It must have been before she left Sengoku Jidai to forever remain in the modern era. Since she was only a part-time priestess at the shrine, everyone called her ‘Higurashi-san’, and never ‘Miko-san’.

That life had seemed like a dream. Or a life reserved for someone else. A different version of herself.

Sometimes she could not bear to think about that life she had left behind. Other times, she missed it with every fibre of her being. Or perhaps – she missed the pieces of herself that belonged to that fifteen-year-old girl. The youthful part. The happy part.

She was so engrossed in her thoughts she overlooked the pebbles littering the path in the garden. One of her sandals slipped over a smooth pebble. She lost her balance. Suddenly, the world tilted on its axis.

Deftly, he caught her before she fell. His strong arm snaked around her waist, supporting her and holding her up when she would have buckled otherwise. But, in doing so, his spectacles slid off the bridge of his nose and fell away from his face.

Kagome felt the instant flare of yōki, the rush of heat like hot steam rising from a pot of boiling water. It caressed her everywhere her skin was exposed. His long silver hair streamed around them, shrouding them both in a beautiful curtain of silk-like strands.

The overwhelming power of his aura made her sway, and he clasped his large palm over the small of her back, securing her against the front of his body. One of her palms had grabbed onto his chest in an effort to steady herself. Beneath the soft and luxurious fabric of his suit, she could feel him. His hard and unyielding body.

Realization dawned on her: she had never been so close to him before. She looked up, and was instantly mesmerized. Now, she could not help but stare.

Oh, there you are.

A pair of brilliant golden eyes — the colour of the most beautiful sunset — stared back at her. Seeing him without his glamour brought such strong sense of nostalgia, she had to resist the urge to caress the crescent moon insignia or the magenta markings.

She was steady on her feet now, yet he kept his hands on her back, and she did not step away. She never realized how tall he was; the top of her head barely reached his chin. Her nose was close to the crook of his neck. So close that she could smell him. She did not have the luxury of time to come up with detailed analysis on the complex layers of his scent. A more primal side of her, however, the side she did not even know she possessed, wanted to let her nose lingered. To continue inhaling deep.

Which she did anyway. Until she looked up again and caught him staring.

She stepped back then, cheeks hot and feeling more than just a little embarrassed. He released her and his hands returned to his side, leaving imprints of warmth on the small of her back.

As though by wordless agreement, they continued to stroll. He did not bother replacing his spectacles, or exerting his glamour back on. Somehow, she was thankful for the decision. It would have been such a shame to hide all his ethereal glory behind a façade. Besides, there was no one else in the gardens who would gape at him.

It was just the two of them.

“What about in a month’s time?” He suddenly asked.

“A month’s time… for what?”

He stopped and turned. His silver mane swirling gently in the breeze as he gave her the full weight of his attention.

“For the wedding.”


Author's Notes:

This story combines two of my favourite tropes in historical romance: "marriage of convenience" and "I've loved you for years".

It might be light in terms of plot but not light at all in terms of feels and angst. In this story, there is no supervillain to defeat, no quest for unimaginable power, no convoluted plot for world domination. Only the slow-burn romance between two vastly different people who agree to marry and take a chance on each other. I hope you enjoyed it and will continue reading. If you have a moment, please let me know what you think. Thanks so much for reading! 


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