I sat in the window watching the sunrise. Rin would come soon, followed closely by a servant carrying our breakfast. After the first few days here, I’d stopped bothering to dress for the occasion. Once I had realized that Sesshoumaru had no intention to visit, I had decided that very little was worth dressing for. In fact, I kept to the room, only leaving to bathe after doing my daily routine of exercises.
Rin was more polite than the servants were, taking my yukata in with no more than a glance, but the servants often gawked, one had even dropped the platter he carried. And that was without showing off the yellow hued wings that I knew were slowly growing from my back. I kept them tucked beneath my clothing; there was a comfort in knowing they were safe in that way.
Rin. She was a story in her own right; talkative and kind no matter how determined I was to keep her distanced from myself. At first my intention was to ignore her completely, a thought brought to rise by jealousy –for I often saw her walk beneath my window with Sesshoumaru- and in the beginning I wanted so badly for him to come to see me. I was little more than a slave, and I realized all too quickly that Rin was the only one who didn’t care about stature. The more often she came to visit, the harder it became for me to distance myself from her, she was too much like the friends I’d once had back home. It helped too, that she often spoke of Sesshoumaru and of her belief that he would come to visit me soon.
This morning when I awoke after my seventh night here, I decided I didn’t care if Sesshoumaru never came to see me, I couldn’t stay here anyway because I needed to find the woman who called to me in my sleep. Besides, the longer I stayed the more I would owe Sesshoumaru, and I already owed him a debt I couldn’t repay. That was the thought that spurred me into action this morning. No longer willing to sit by and put myself further into his debt.
Today I would go out and train, I decided. I would find somewhere to fly, somewhere out of sight. In order to do that, I would have to be dressed, and I would need Rin’s help. I stood and moved to the wardrobe, my few belongings hanging with room to spare in the space. Clean underwear was first, then bindings for my chest. I stared at the colors in the space, wondering for a moment wondering which Sesshoumaru’s favorite was. I shook my head, that was a useless thought, wearing a different color would not make me any more appealing to him. I’d had my chance with, despite my broken state, and I had turned him away, too broken to accept him. Besides he deserved better.
The tapping on my door startled me out of my thoughts. Nearly naked I hovered indecisively by the wardrobe. Silence was my usual response, and the door began to slide open. “Please wait a moment.” I called out, and the door stopped moving. Scrambling I grabbed a training gi, pants on first, followed by the top tucking my wings down against my back. A belt low on my hips to spare my wings and hold the top closed. Then the hakama, red faded to pink with time, came up over the pants and over the bottom edge of the shirt, tied in the same place as the belt. I moved to the door, sliding it open the rest of the way.
“Oh! Onee-san, you’re dressed.” Rin’s face reddened and she covered her mouth as she glanced at the servant beside her who hid her own amusement at Rin’s outburst well. Speaking once more from behind her hand Rin continued, “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean..” I shook my head, I knew what she meant, and if I wasn’t trying so hard not to grow close to anyone here, I would have laughed along with the servant. All the same, I understood her surprise, in the time that I’d been here I had been a bit of a mess. I’d spent the time reminding myself why I had left, and why I needed to leave again, but at the same time I longed for a second chance with Sesshoumaru, for the comfort of his presence. Sesshoumaru had only helped me to harden my will, disappearing into his home and not sparing me another thought. All the better, I didn’t have the choice to stay, and he could find someone who could return his affection. Meanwhile I’d get myself back into fighting shape and go once more in search of the woman who haunted my dreams.
I gestured for the two to come in, leaving the door ajar as I followed. “Thank you.” I murmured to the woman who placed our food on the table in the window, she nodded in silence and left, sliding the door shut behind her.
“Onee-san, you are looking better today. Did Sesshoumaru come and visit you?” I shook my head, trying to keep my face from falling. I wasn’t worth the time it took to come visit. “I am sure he will soon.” Rin’s hair shone more red than brown in the light of the rising sun as she took the seat I had so recently occupied. “Mmhm. Chef has spoiled us this morning, look.”
I moved towards the young woman, sitting across from her, a smile widening my lips despite myself. I couldn’t help but like Rin, always so happy and honest, and she kept coming back even though I tried my best to keep her away. She offered me a pastry dotted with honey and butter, a beaming smile on her face.
“Thank you, Rin-san.” The pastry found its way to my plate and a similar one followed on to a plate of her own, I began to pour tea into our cups as she separated out the rest of our meal, and when she turned to the pot to pour, I offered her a tea cup instead. Maybe I liked the girl more than I admitted.
“Oh,” Her smile faltered for a moment, surprised – I assumed – at the oddity of my behavior, but then brightened once more, “Thank you!” I lifted my own cup to my lips to hide my amusement, breathing in the hot spicy aroma of the tea. She took a sip of her own tea before launching in to her account of the occurrences of the previous day. Most of what she said had little meaning to me; I didn’t know who Akoto’s father was or whether or not he was proud to have joined the guard, but occasionally she would mention something that did catch my interest.
“A feast?” I interrupted her before she could move on to whatever it was that she had planned to say next. I’d startled her once more, although the change seemed to only make her smile brighter. Another small smile won its way past my guard, and so as I turned back to my food, Rin started to talk once more.
“It is more of a festival, really, but there will be a feast at the beginning and one at the end. It was decided that a festival would honor the Lord’s early return. People will travel from all over the kingdoms to welcome Lord Sesshoumaru home.” She paused for a moment, giving me a look I couldn’t place, and took a few bites of her own food.
“The Kindgoms?” My voice was strained with the fear that had surfaced at her words, if the Fae were invited – my train of thought was cut off as she began to speak once more, unaware of, or ignoring my sudden fear.
“Yes, the Therianthrope, Elemental, and Shadow Kingdoms. The split in the Kingdom allows for three royal houses, although the Elemental and Shadow Kingdoms bow to the Therianthrope Kingdom most of the time.”
I let those words sink in slowly, calming back down, the rest of what she said about the Kingdoms and their royalty fell on deaf ears. I was too busy realizing what it meant that people from all around would be coming here.
“When will this festival be held?” I asked, my excitement growing, surely someone would know of the woman I was looking for.
“A fortnight from now at the soonest, maybe longer.” She informed me. “It will take time to get all the preparations ready.” She glanced out the window at the grounds, and I followed the direction of her gaze, the hustle and bustle of the day was beginning, the sun fully risen above the horizon. “Well, Onee-san, thank you for having breakfast with me, but I must attend to my studies. If you don’t need anything else…” She let her words trail off as she stood, and I knew already what I would ask of her before she left.
“Actually, Rin, would you show me somewhere I can exercise without getting underfoot?” I asked, really what I was hoping for was somewhere no one would see me, but I had no better way of asking without drawing attention to the strange request.
“Of course, Onee-san, did you want to use one of the dojos?” I shook my head,
“I would really like to be outside; I don’t think I’ve been out since I arrived.” Rin nodded, looking very pleased.
“I know a spot that I think you will like.” She answered, grinning as she slid open the door.
“This is a private garden, so no one really comes through here except me and sometimes Sesshoumaru-sama.” She looked at me for a moment, gauging my response. “But if you walk all the way through the back, there is an open spot that should be prefect for you to train in.” She pointed along the flower lined path. “You are welcome to come here whenever you’d like, Onee-san.”
I was only half listening to her, lost in the sights and smells of the garden, the soft burble of water meeting my ears. The grass was soft, almost mossy beneath my feet, and there were all sorts of flowers I had never even read about before. It was almost as beautiful as some of the gardens in Faerie.
“This is wonderful, Rin. Thank you.” I turned to her, a genuine smile on my face. “When you have time, in the future, I would like to learn the names of these plants, if you know them, of course.” She seemed pleasantly surprised by my interest, and she nodded happily at my request.
“Of course, Onee-san, I would like that. I must take my leave now, however, or I’ll be late.” I nodded my understanding and turned back to the path as Rin headed in the opposite direction.
This would suit my purposes nicely.