DISCLAIMER: This is a work of fanfiction produced for entertainment purposes only. Inu-Yasha - A Feudal Fairytale and all related characters are the creations of Rumiko Takahashi.
SPOILER WARNING: This story takes place after Episode 141 of the Anime and Volume 30 of the Manga, which is when one of the main characters makes his first appearance, so this story contains spoilers if you haven't seen that much of Inu-Yasha yet.
TRILOGY NOTE: This story is the first of a trilogy. The second is 'Out in the Cold' and the third is 'Just Like Me'. All three stories were written together.
Night had long since fallen over the land and the mansion was silent and still. It had been a tiring and frustrating day, filled with the usual uncertainty that life as Naraku's puppet brought. Kagura ached for the welcome arms of slumber to embrace her but, as was the case on most nights, her mind was too alert and her body too tense for sleep to catch hold of her.
As always, Kagura found herself straining her ears for the slightest sound of the wind as it passed through the trees outside. How she long to be out there with it. Away from this place. Free of Naraku and the hold he had over her.
Kagura shivered at the thought of her 'father' and the way he kept her bound to him. She was sure that she had felt his hands on her heart at least twice during the day, as if he had been debating with himself over whether or not she had yet outlived her usefulness. Since she was still alive, obviously the answer had been 'no'.
Distracted by her train of thought, it took a moment for Kagura to notice the soft noise that broke the night's silence. Frowning slightly, she eased herself into a sitting position and listened intently.
The sound came again and her frown deepened. It was too soft for her to identify, but it seemed to be coming from somewhere near and there shouldn't have been anyone in the place except for herself and Hakudoushi. Naraku was away somewhere. He'd taken Kohaku with him and they weren't expected back until the next evening at the earliest. Kanna was still in hiding with the baby. Could it be an intruder? No... surely there would be more noise if that were the case. Perhaps an animal of some kind had gotten inside. Kagura decided that she had better go and see.
She crept to the partition, taking care to be as quiet as possible so she wouldn't scare off whatever was making the noise. Sliding back the thin paper screen, Kagura listened for a moment. The sound came again, clearer this time, and Kagura felt suddenly uneasy. The faint cry had seemed to come from the room that Hakudoushi had claimed for himself.
Kagura hesitated before moving to the partition that sealed off his room. She really didn't want to disturb Hakudoushi, especially if he was still awake, but there was something about the sound that worried her. She couldn't just ignore it. Taking a deep breath, Kagura carefully inched the partition open and peeked through the crack.
The room beyond was dark, but Kagura could easily make out the small figure curled up on the pallet in the middle of the floor. Apart from that, the room appeared to be empty. She frowned in confusion and slid the partition open a little more so she could see into the room properly. There was definitely nothing there. So where was the noise coming from?
Hakudoushi shifted restlessly and Kagura held her breath, hoping that he wouldn't wake. She started to slide the partition back into place. As she did so though, the sound came again. Kagura gasped as she finally realised what was causing it. She hesitated for only a moment before slipping into the room.
As her bare feet padded across the wood floor, Kagura wondered if she was doing the right thing. He may have looked like a child, but Hakudoushi really creeped her out. She knew the cruelty and evil that he was capable of. When she reached his side and looked down though, she didn't see that evil. All she saw was the face of a child, overly pale against the room's darkness. He tossed and turned, the sheets twisting around his body while his face twisted with fear from the nightmare that held him in its relentless grasp. His soft whimper broke through Kagura's momentary hesitation.
Kneeling down, she lightly touched his shoulder. "Hakudoushi." It was all he needed. With a gasp, his eyes snapped open and he jerked upright. His wide eyes darted wildly around the room before finally coming to rest on Kagura. He blinked at her, still not fully awake.
"You were having a nightmare," Kagura explained softly. She watched as understanding filled his eyes but was surprised when he looked away instead of replying. She had been sure that he'd tell her to go or something. Apparently the nightmare had shaken him more than she had thought possible.
As she looked at him, Kagura couldn't help but notice how his restlessness had disturbed his covers. Acting purely on instinct, she reached out and started to straighten them. Hakudoushi went very still and Kagura kept her eyes focused on her actions. She really didn't want to look into his cold eyes at that particular moment. She had a feeling that he'd be smirking at her fussing.
A strange feeling suddenly raced through Kagura. Yes, she was fussing over him. So what? Naraku may have taken her heart, but that didn't mean that she was emotionless. He may have stolen her freedom, but he couldn't stop her from feeling, or from acting on those feelings! If she wanted to fuss over a frightened child, then why shouldn't she do so? True, normally Naraku would most likely punish her for such a thing, but in this case... Kagura had a feeling that Hakudoushi wouldn't tell him about it. After all, he'd hardly want to admit to something so human as being scared by a nightmare!
Kagura's ruby eyes flashed as she looked up, meeting Hakudoushi's odd silvery eyes without fear. Sure enough, the boy was smirking. Kagura smirked back. "Don't think I'm going soft or anything, kid. I'd just hate for Naraku to find out that you were scared and I didn't do anything to help." She let the words hang in the air for a moment and was satisfied that Hakudoushi understood her when his smirk became an uneasy frown. When Kagura spoke again, her voice was very soft... almost gentle.
"It's late. You should try to get some sleep. Naraku will be back tomorrow and he'll probably have something for us to do."
Hakudoushi eyed her warily. He started to speak but then stopped, looking thoughtful. Silently, he nodded and lay down, turning so he ended up lying on his stomach with his head facing away from Kagura. He reached down and pulled the covers up over himself, so only his hair could be seen.
Kagura hesitated. Should she? Oh, why not? The boy was obviously still shaken by his nightmare. It wouldn't kill her to offer him a little comfort. She paused for just a moment when she felt him tense at her touch, allowing him time to adjust to it. Without a word, Kagura began lightly rubbing his back.
A few minutes later, Hakudoushi went limp and Kagura knew he had fallen asleep again. Her hand went still, although she allowed it to rest on his back for a moment more.
As she looked down at the sleeping boy, Kagura smiled slightly. Since she had first met his original form, that of the baby Akago, she had thought that he was nothing like an ordinary child. But now... Maybe she had been wrong. Maybe Hakudoushi did have just a hint of childish innocence in him after all.