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The Flourishing of the Sakura under an English Sun by midnight_darkztar

CHAPTER 1

DISCLAIMER – All of Inuyasha and its characters belong solely to Rumiko Takahashi

The Flourishing of the Sakura under an English Sun

CHAPTER 1

Tonight was her first night out into the sparkling society of the Ton. Only two weeks ago, she had her coming out before the Queen. Years of unwavering practice had finally paid off when she delivered her customary curtsey with the grace and precision worthy of her rank. The Queen had bestowed a small smile and then it was over. Her mother had been glowing with pride and tears had been running down her cheeks. It was a bittersweet moment for Kagome. Such keystone events in her life only reminded her of the very important person missing in her life. Kagome sighed inwardly. Eight years have already passed since her father's riding accident but she still missed him terribly. Even now, thinking of him brought tears prickling in her eyes. Kagome doubted that the ache he left behind will ever truly go away.

Her mother, the widowed Countess of Trent, spared no expense for her only daughter's debut ball. Luxurious silk drapes decorated the walls and the magnificent chandelier hang in the middle of the ballroom rained diamond fire upon the guests. She had also invited all the important leading gentlemen and ladies of the Ton. Even her great-aunt, the Dowager-dragon duchess of Kenmore, deemed her worthy to make an appearance at her debut ball. It could not have been made more perfect. Standing at the top of the long staircase, Kagome looked down upon all the guests waiting for her. All her life, she had watched the comings and goings of the Ton with a child's eyes. Eyes glowing with stars and young hope, Kagome descended the staircase into the glamorous society to fulfill her dreams.

 

A month later,

Lord Sesshoumaru, Duke of Westin, hung back in the shadows of the ballroom and watched the twirling dancers that have invaded his house. The ballroom was filled with gay and frivolous men and women who did not seem to have a care in the world. That was what the Ton was. An elaborate illusion of powerful men and women who stop at nothing to maintain that perception. Those of the Ton were better actors and actresses than the paid professionals onstage. They made their whole lives into living a lie.

Looking upon the assembled masses, one would not guess that many were suffering from debt and straddling the line of near poverty. He had made it his highest priority to know their darkest secrets. In the artificial sparkling world of society, reputation was its highest currency. A whisper of empty coffers or a clandestine meeting would be enough to destroy anyone. Knowledge was power and he would be ruthless for it.

He idly swirled his red wine and raised his glass to to look at the glistening throng through the red tint of his vintage wine. He had hidden his private stock in the library where his mother would not be able to touch. She had practically emptied his cellars for the sake of this one party. He did not understand the frivolity of females but he knew better than to cross his mother on this necessary evil of entertaining.

A certain figure dancing in pale yellow waltzed by his vantage point. Eyes twinkling with mirth, she laughed aloud as her partner spun her around. Surprised by the uncharacteristic behavior of a lady, he took a discreet glance at the corner where the strict matrons were supervising. Instead of bringing the wrath of Hell upon the young debutante's head, they all watched her and her partner dance by with a smile of approval on their puckered lips. Ah, that must be the society darling Lady Kagome. The one who whirled upon the glittering scene like a storm and held all of the Ton enthralled with her childlike innocence and charm. She and her cousin, Lady Kikyou, were the leading ladies of the Ton. Diamonds of the first water. From his point of view, Lady Kagome was more of a cultured pearl while her cousin was a pigeon's blood ruby full of fire. Lady Kikyou had come upon the scene several months earlier than her cousin and already secured an engagement to an Earl. An engagement to his bastard brother, Inuyasha, Earl of Westwood, to be exact.

The lady in question had made several indiscreet advances to his person to which he rebuked with his usual disdain. Kikyou had dropped many hints that she would be extremely willing to please him. Please him very well indeed. That minx was obviously cut from the true form of the Ton. Another title seeking she-devil in skirts attempting to ensnare him with the iron leg shackle of marriage. Sesshoumaru was tempted to accept her advances just to scorn his brother but he knew the price he would have to pay for just a taste. He had too many years of avoiding the parson's trap than to succumb to the ancient ploy of feminine wiles. It would take a much more experienced woman to bring him down. If he truly desired female company, he had plenty of women willing to jump into his bed without having to pay the price.

His eyes continued to watch Lady Kagome dance in cadence to his inner thoughts. Light on her feet, she made up with her own natural grace and skill where her partner's was lacking. From the enraptured look on the fool's face, he was obviously besotted with her. The set ended and Lady Kagome smiled warmly at her next partner. He watched her dance with several more men before retiring to his library.

……

Kagome was tired. Her cheeks were sore from smiling at potential suitors all night. It never ceased to amaze her how many men clambered for the honour of claiming a dance with her. She knew that the only reason that there were so many men vying for her attention was due to the fact that Kikyou's betrothal was announced last week. She looked similar enough to Kikyou that is was easy for her broken hearted suitors to transfer their affections to Kagome who was still unattached.

Excusing herself from her partner at the end of the set, she declined more offers of a dance. She had not stopped dancing since the beginning of the night and was really sick of meaningless small talk. Her feet were sore and Kagome wasn't sure if her toes would ever recover from the trampling her last partner gave them. She grabbed a glass of champagne off a servant's tray and headed for the ladies retiring room.She was about to walk in when she heard loud laughter from the room.

"She's such a pretender. Kagome has them all fooled with her so called innocence." slandered an extremely familiar voice. "She has them all eating out of her hand like bunch of dogs."

"But she seems so nice." protested a voice. The laughter in the room immediately stopped.

"Nice? She's a vile whore willing to spread her legs for any men stupid enough to fall for her." Kikyou sneered. "Don't be fooled by the smile. You don't know her the way I do."

Uneasy laughter followed Kikyou's heartfelt accusation. Kagome's ears burned from Kikyou's words and her malicious laughter. She knew that her cousin was jealous of Kagome's higher rank as the daughter of an Earl but she would have never believed that Kikyou would go out to ruin her. There was no way she could go in there now.

Turning on her heel, she marched back the way that she came.

"Kagome! Where are you?"

Kagome mentally cursed in her head. It was Hojo, one of her more persistant admirers. She had not given granted her use of her Christian name to him or any suitor. Only her family and closest friends were allowed to address her so. It would not do to be caught unchaperoned with a male in the darkened hallway of the house. This would be exactly the evidence Kikyou needed to add fuel to her vicious words.

Looking frantically around, she found no route of escape. The ladies' resting room was at the end of the corridor so she was forced to make a decision quickly or Hojo would see her. Confront Kikyou and her gang or talk to Hojo where Kikyou and her cronies would definitely hear them? As her friend, Lady Sango, would say. Kagome was stuck between a rock and a hard place.

"Kagome?" His silhouette came into view in the dimly light corridor. Kagome ran to the nearest closed door and opened it.

It was dark in the room except for a single candle on the side. Her eyes still blind in the darkness, she followed the walls by touch and came across shelves. Shelves and shelves literally overflowing with books. She took a deep breath and finally identified the very familiar scent of bound leather and tobacco. With the very little light provided by the candle, she read off impressive tiles of Homer's Illiad,The Odyssey, Aenid and other extensive volumes that she would trade her entire wardrobe of ballgowns for and still believe that she got the better trade-off. Kagome ran a loving finger over the priceless volumes and pulled The Illiad on a whim. She gasped out when she realized that it was the original Greek version. This book was worth hundreds of pounds! She looked on with amazement at the foreign symbols and gently closed the book. With her index finger, she traced the symbols on the leather cover in awe.

"What are you doing in my library?"

…….

 She jumped. That was the only word that could have described her reaction. Sesshoumaru was quite thankful that she didn't drop the book or squeal like most females of his acquaintance. He had gone to all the way to Athens to purchase the original and would have been quite irritated to take another trip to the mediterranean to replace the book just because a meddlesome female invaded into his private domain. By candlelight, his dark sensitive eyes picked up the flush that replaced her initial white faced pallor when she realized that there was someone else in the room. He reached out and took the book gently from her death grip. With practiced ease, he slid the book back to its rightful place on his shelf. Then he turned to looked at her.

"Now, I asked you a question. What are you doing in my library?"

She had the fright of her life when a voice suddenly spoke to her from behind her. It was quite a surprise to her that she didn't drop the book. It was a good thing that he took it from her because she would have dropped it when she saw him.

He was the most beautiful man that she had ever seen in his life. Breathtakingly handsome with the classic aristocratic profile, he belonged on a roman coin. His lazy, hooded eyes were of a piercing amber yellow set in the fine boned sketch of his face. Long silver hair was tied back to reveal a canvas of high cheekbones and sinful lips. On another man, his perfect blend of features would have brought the words delicate, feminine and pretty to mind but the aura of foreboding and pure masculinity that surrounded him would have availed anyone of those thoughts. His features lovingly caressed by candlelight, he brought to mind, the myth of Pysche and Eros. This was what Psyche must have seen when she revealed her nighttime lover by candlelight. A man so beautiful that he must not be human. She felt sympathy for the woman who must have been ensnared in the spell of his beauty just as surely as she was now. Those perfect lips moved but she heard no sound. He was perfect.

Sesshoumaru inwardly groaned. Demure Lady Kagome was standing in his library completely bespelled. He knew he had such an effect on women but it instead of completely completely irritating him like usual, he felt oddly satisfied him that he could still stun a woman into speechlessness. He crossed his arms and gave her a lazy perusal. It was only right to return her frank assessment of him.

Lady Kagome was beautiful. There was no other way of describing it. She had black hair that was so dark and silky that it flickered obsidian blue in the candlelight. For the formality of the ball, it was teased into a simple Grecian knot with loops of hair hanging by her shoulders. It was hair that a man could sink his fingers into as he kissed her senseless. Her gown matched her natural grace. Soft and pale yellow, it wreathed her ivory skin with a warm glow. Her arms and her shoulders were bare. The barest tops of her bosoms hinted at a generous cleavage. Completely without embellishment, her gown consisted purely of artful folds. Décolletage and style demure by the the Ton's standards, she should of looked like a maiden straight out of the backwash country. Instead, she had made all the sophisticated women dripping with jewels and laces appear overdressed.

Her liquid brown eyes were locked soulfully at his lips. His instincts warned him that she would be able to fall hardened men with a glance of those innocent eyes. Her lips did not possess the fullness of a seductress' pout but of something much more potent. Innocence. Soft, virgin lips that begged to be kissed swollen by the brand of a man. Everything about her was soft, virginal, chaste. Exactly the kind of girl that he should stay away from.

Thinking that he had given her enough time to gawk at him, he opened his mouth to speak when the door burst open.

………..

 

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