Hanakotoba Matsuri Week 02: Love & Desire
Prompt: Honey Suckle (devoted attention), Mutual Pining, Yellow Iris (passion)
Inspiration: "So Close" by Jon McLaughlin
"You look good enough to eat."
Kagome's eyes narrowed. "We talked about this."
"Aw, come on Kags! I can't even pay you a compliment?"
"Not when it has sexual connotations."
"You're no fun."
She rolled her eyes this time, then continued with her hair. Usually, Kagome left her hair down, but considering how many people would be there tonight, she'd opted for a more elegant style.
Kouga had even offered to help, and she'd been surprised at how talented he was with braids, given his claws. Apparently, being the pack's alpha meant playing hairdresser with the female pups as well.
She tilted her head, her reflection mimicking the movement. The front section of her hair had been separated into four braids, leading to an intricate bun at the back of her head. Waiting until Kouga wasn't looking, she grabbed a few floral clips and slipped them onto the left side of the bun.
No one would know they were plum blossoms unless they looked really closely.
Sesshoumaru was hosting the flower-viewing festival this year and had offered up his home for a formal dance. Rin had been ecstatic and had refused to accept any excuse Kagome had come up with.
Dressing up was fun, as was hanging out with friends and family, but being forced to watch your ex and secret crush waltz with other people all night was not Kagome's definition of a good time.
She loved Inuyasha, and she was happy he'd found a match in Shunran, but it still hurt to see them together and be reminded that she was alone. Being single was one thing; being the only single one in the village was another. The villagers called her an old maid behind her back, which Rin was lovely enough to yell at them for whenever the whispers became louder than usual.
Kaede was never given the same treatment, she thought bitterly. Didn't Kagome's own miko status count for something? Or maybe it was because the elder miko was known as 'Grannie' to everyone that they just overlooked it.
"Having second thoughts? We could always skip the dance and—"
Her comb only missed Kouga's head by an inch. "Finish that sentence, and I'll tell Ayame-chan that you made a pass at me while she's pregnant."
The wolf lifted his hands in surrender. "You know I'm kidding, Kags. You just—" He ran his claws through his bangs. "I don't wanna force you to go if you really don't want to."
Pursing her lips, she leaned back in her chair. "I'll be fine. Rin-chan is excited to see Shippou-chan's new tail anyway."
"If you say so," Kouga relented. "But the second you wanna leave, just tell me, and we're outta there."
Kagome gave him a grateful smile. "I appreciate that."
Kouga didn't know the real reason behind not wanting to go—he thought she was still hung up on Inuyasha—and Kagome meant to keep it that way. If she stuck to the sidelines, and pretended to be having a blast with one of her best friends, she could go the whole night without being noticed, right?
Even if the person she was really avoiding was the host.
He knew the minute she entered the room, the purity and strength of her power drowning out everything and everyone.
Sesshoumaru cursed the way his eyes sought her out, cursed the way his beast raged at the sight of her on the arm of another.
The wolf was just a friend. He knew this; had repeated it to himself hourly once Rin told him she'd be attending, but it didn't stop the need to separate them from clawing at his insides.
Kagome was not his to claim.
He'd been thoroughly tempted, especially after his brother had announced his suit of the panther, but the miko had shown no indication she would be open to any match, never mind his own. And so, he'd left her alone.
The taste of jealousy had never been so bitter, even when he'd been seeking Tessaiga.
She was dressed in a rich shade of plum tonight, pale Sakura blossoms adorning the dark silk in celebration of the festival. Rin had mentioned it in passing, and Sesshoumaru had been unable to help himself from adding the same colour to his own outfit, twisting it together with periwinkle to create his obi.
He could pretend they'd dressed to match that way.
Resigning himself for an evening of torture, Sesshoumaru began mingling with the guests, managing not to get sucked into any lengthy conversations. Jaken kept him apprised of any potential impropriety, but it seemed that everyone was intent on having a good time.
The changing of the seasons had never been something Sesshoumaru had bothered with before—youkai measured time in much longer stretches—but a passing comment from the miko, and encouragement from the kit, had him opening his doors to the human festival.
If only to see her smile.
Sucking in a breath, he nearly choked, barely catching himself as the scent of warm citrus teased his senses. How had he gotten this close to her and not realized?
He allowed himself to look, wanting only to remind himself of her beauty, and found her eyes on him. He stopped so quickly that Jaken ran into the back of his legs. The imp's apologies were lost as Kagome gifted him with a sweet smile, inclining her head in acknowledgement.
Sesshoumaru's resolve crumbled.
He didn't care who was watching, didn't care what conversation she was in the middle of; he needed her close, if only to dispel the loneliness that had been eating at him for so long.
"A dance, miko?" He held out his hand, hoping it was more of an invitation than a demand.
The wolf snorted. "In your dreams, dog-breath. Just because you've got the digs to show off, doesn't mean you get to—"
"I'd love to."
Sesshoumaru would've smirked at the look of shock on the wolf's face if Kagome's hand wasn't already in his. They left Kouga to sputter as he led her into the middle of the room, twirling her around before one hand settled on the small of her back.
"Are you enjoying yourself?"
She hummed in agreement. "The courtyard was lovely. I don't think I've ever seen so many cherry trees in one place before."
"They were a mating gift for Mother. She prefers falling petals much more than snowflakes."
"Something we have in common then."
He twirled her again, pulling her closer than before to keep her from bumping into the couple next to them, and Sesshoumaru was glad he'd decided to go without his armour. The scent of citrus returned, mixed with honey this time, and he couldn't help but wonder what had caused the sudden change.
"Thank you for hosting the festival. I didn't realize how much I'd missed seeing everyone."
And just like that, he was reminded of his role in her life. He wasn't special. She hadn't sought out his company. She'd even gone as far as to bring a mated male as her consort, just to keep others away. Pale lashes fluttered closed as he inhaled deeply, taking in one last drag of her essence before the mask of indifference slid into place.
"You will have to thank Rin for that," he said, adjusting their positions so she was a respectable distance away. "She was most adamant that she be able to experience it firsthand."
"I'll be sure to do that."
The rest of the dance was spent in silence, neither making any attempts at conversation. Normally, it wouldn't bother him, but the struggle to keep his tongue from spilling his most intimate secrets was immense, and Sesshoumaru was grateful when the song ended.
Stepping away from her, he bowed. "An honour, as always, miko."
And then she was gone, pulled away by the wolf as he checked her for nonexistent wounds. Sesshoumaru would've rolled his eyes had he not caught the slight souring of Kagome's aura.
Her smile was genuine, her arms welcoming as others asked her to dance, but her scent was never as sweet as it had been with him.
She had always been a curiosity, one his mind, and then his heart, had never let go of, but this was different. Her eyes never strayed from her partner, giving each one her full attention as she was turned and dipped, but the honey never returned.
Why did she constantly tempt him when he was doing his best to distance himself? To abide by her apparent wishes for solitude? Why did she keep insisting on pulling him in?
And why did he keep letting her?
Unable to squash the hope that had bloomed in his heart, Sesshoumaru's resolve once again took hold. But the goal was different this time. He would discern the cause of the shifts in her scent and then be rid of her.
His soul couldn't bear it anymore.
Once was enough.
She could pretend she was Cinderella and hold the memory of dancing with the prince close to her heart for the rest of her life.
But once was enough.
Kagome was actively hiding now, masking her aura without being obvious as she kept herself surrounded by people and conversation. Sesshoumaru had requested a second dance as Kouga hauled her away, but Kagome had been rescued by a throng of other females, their chatter drowning out her refusal. Managing to escape unscathed, Kagome had retreated to an empty balcony, forcing fresh air into her lungs as she tried to forget how wonderful it had felt in his arms.
Accepting his initial invitation had been a mistake, but the moment her hand had touched his, she'd been transported to a land of ballgowns and fairytale endings—one where she was free to dream about true love and happily ever afters.
But now she was back in reality, back where the only thing she had to accept was the person she loved would never look at her the way she wanted him to.
Kagome had tried to distract herself by dancing with other people, but their smiles and anecdotes hadn't been enough to lighten the melancholy in her heart, and she knew it was time to leave. She'd done her part, made her appearance, and now no one could say the Shikon Miko had snubbed the Western Lord's festival.
Locating her date through the horde of guests, she made her way to Kouga, plastering a smile on her face. "I'm done."
To his credit, Kouga immediately wrapped his arm around her, ushering her towards the main doors. There may still be a bit of truth behind his words when he hit on her, but Kagome knew how much their friendship meant to him, and she was grateful that he cared so much.
"Just let me let the runt know that we're leaving, and we'll—"
"It is poor manners to depart from an event without first informing the host."
Kagome stiffened, the smooth baritone of Sesshoumaru's voice making her stomach do somersaults.
"Or is it just the habit of wolves to disappear without voicing their gratitude?"
She frowned. Sesshoumaru wasn't one to pick fights with Kouga. He rarely picked fights with anyone anymore, aside from Inuyasha. Maybe they'd done something to slight him, a youkai custom she hadn't been aware of. Either way, she needed to intervene before it became an all-out brawl.
"It's my fault. I'm not feeling well, and I asked Kouga-kun to take me home."
Sesshoumaru's gaze slid slowly from Kouga to her, and Kagome's hands clenched to keep herself from stepping back.
"So you are to blame, then."
"Kagome isn't to blame for anything! You're throwing your weight around just for the sake of—"
Running his claws through his hair, Sesshoumaru levelled Kouga with an intense stare. One that made her friend shut up for once.
"This is my home, so I will throw my weight around all I like," he said with a sniff. "Though since it was not intentional, if the miko will grace me with another dance, This One will overlook the slight against his person."
Kagome's heart both soared and sank. How did she get herself into these messes?
Biting back a sigh, she laid a hand on Kouga's shoulder, stopping him from doing something stupid like taking a swing at a daiyoukai. "It's fine, Kouga-kun. I'll be right back, okay?"
It was just a dance. She could survive a dance, right?
Kouga tried to argue but was ignored, Sesshoumaru pulling her onto the dancefloor. This time, she leaned into the twirl, then slid her hand up to his shoulder, expecting the same distance as before. Blue eyes widened when Sesshoumaru pulled her close, their bodies almost touching as they swayed to the music.
The fantasy took hold, and Kagome allowed herself to relax, imagining there was meaning behind the way he was holding her. Her cheeks warmed, and she reminded herself not to make eye contact, knowing she wouldn't be able to hide the truth in her eyes.
"Why did you insist on the wolf's company when he is already tied to another?"
Because his pheromones keep my own in check.
"He wasn't my first choice, but Ayame-chan was nice enough to let me borrow him for the night. It's been a while since I've seen him."
The hand on her back flexed, and Kagome found it increasingly difficult not to look up—to immerse herself in cool amber and the scent of pine and let the world fall away.
"Who was your first choice?"
She blinked, then internally cursed. She should've known he'd pick up on that little slip. Trying for an air of nonchalance, she shrugged her shoulder.
"It doesn't matter," she said, ignoring the pain in her heart. "He wouldn't have said yes, anyway."
"Are you so sure?"
Kagome snorted. "Positive. There's no way he'd have—" She made the mistake of looking up, the rest of what she'd planned on saying dying on her lips at the expression on Sesshoumaru's face. Amber had been replaced with crimson, the strips on his cheeks losing their smooth appearance, and she swallowed as he leaned closer, lips brushing against her ear.
"Your scent gives you away, miko," he whispered. "It only sweetens when you are with me."
The bottom dropped out of her stomach, panic making her heart pound in her chest, and she tried to pull away.
"I'm s-so sorry! I'll leave right now. You won't have to—" The hand on her back clenched again, locking her against him almost violently.
"Do not—" It was then that she realized his heart was beating just as wildly as hers. "Do not push me away. Not now. I beg you." The last part came out as a whimper, the distress stilling her movements as her mind tried to comprehend their meaning.
"You mean… You too?" Kagome's chest heaved, her fingers digging into the fabric of his kimono.
The smallest of nods was her only answer, and if he hadn't been holding her, she was sure her knees would've given out.
"Since when?" It seemed irrelevant, given the circumstances, but she wanted—needed—to know how long they'd both been suffering in silence.
She let out a choked laugh, then wrapped her arms around his neck. Sesshoumaru relaxed into the embrace, and it just made her hug him tighter.
"We're both stupid."
"So it would seem."
Kagome bit her lip, turning her head away from the crowd. "If I kiss you right now, will it cause a scene?" She'd been planning on doing it anyway, but Sesshoumaru straightened, then twirled her around, his movements fluid and purposeful as their dance led them out onto a balcony.
And then she was being devoured.
Sesshoumaru yanked her out of the doorway and away from prying eyes before pinning her against the wall. The desperation returned; his body pressed fully against hers as he robbed her of oxygen. But Kagome had no complaints, her arms locked firmly around his neck as she slid her tongue along his fangs.
His hands were in her hair, tugging at the braids, and suddenly the clips went flying. Kagome tore her mouth away from his, watching the wooden plum blossoms bounce against the stone floor. Unsure where her clothing ended and his began, she tried to detangle herself from him, but an iron grip prevented her from moving.
"Leave it," he growled, claiming her mouth again.
She melted against him, moaning softly before pulling back. "I can't. It's my favourite."
He raised an eyebrow at her.
"Please. Just let me grab it, and then you can go back to what you were doing." Her words held a heated promise, and he kissed her again before retrieving the accessory. Once he got a closer look at it, however, his eyes widened, and he was looming over her.
"How long have you had this?"
Heat stained her cheeks, and Kagome bit her lip. "Does it matter?"
Her blush deepened, but she met his gaze, sapphire turning to indigo in the candlelight. "Since you saved me from Mukotsu."
Sesshoumaru groaned, running a hand down his face. "We are both very stupid."
"I said that already."
"And I am confirming it." He leaned down and kissed her forehead, trailing his mouth to her ear. "I will cover you in the mark of my clan every day if it is what you desire."
Kagome nodded, then, feeling bold, slid a hand into the collar of his kimono. "Does this mean I can wear your clothes in the morning?" She felt him freeze, his laboured breathing sending chills down her spine.
"Are you suggesting—"
"That you abandon your own party and take me back to your room?" Both hands pushed him back only far enough for her to meet his gaze, hers blazing just as much as his. "Yes."
She didn't think Sesshoumaru had moved that quickly in his life.
She should've cared about deserting Kouga, and about having to explain how her new kimono had ended up in tatters, but all Kagome cared about in that moment was holding onto Sesshoumaru all night to make sure his heated confessions weren't a dream.
She'd apologize to Kouga tomorrow.