The Daimyō's Wife

BY : loveneophyte
Category: InuYasha > General
Dragon prints: 279
Disclaimer: I do not own Inuyasha, nor the characters from it. I do not make any money from the writing of this story.

Author's Note: I do not own Inuyasha nor any of the characters in the story. I am not earning any money posting or writing this story. 

Chapter 1 / Just This Much

Sango had woken up with a jolt, cold sweat running down her back, her heart beating at a hurried pace against her chest. There was no way she could close her eyes again. She needed the sleep but was terrified of what awaited behind her closed eyelids. It was the same dream, the dream she had been having every night over the last few months. Every time seeming more real than the last. Sango was no stranger to nightmares, after all, she had seen many terrible things and it was only natural for them to reappear in her dreams. Ever since she was a young child, Sango saw images of youkai with distorted faces and terrorizing, sharp teeth. Fellow warriors massacred in battle, blood oozing out of cuts and running down severed limbs to create thick pool of red at their feet. But this dream had none of that.

Sango squeezed her eyes shut to will the memory of the dream way. Just remembering parts of the dream made her feel afraid.

"Sister, are you alright?" Sango heard a concerned voice and open her eyes to look at Kohaku, wide awake and staring at her with concern.

"Kohaku! Go back to sleep, it's not time to wake up yet," Sango responded, a small smiled forced on her lips as she tried to reassure her little brother.

"But, but you are crying, are you alright?" He pressed on. Even if he was the younger of the two, Kohaku still felt a strong urge to protect his sister, and seeing her cry like this was really getting to him.

Kohaku had tried to ignore it for the past week. Sango would toss and turn in her sleep, her voice mumbling words that he could not understand, but the pain in her voice said it all. She was having a nightmare and whatever she was dreaming about was terrifying her. Kohaku tried to ignore it, he knew that it was just a dream and these episodes often lasted for a few minutes before Sango's breathing evened out and she was peacefully sleeping again. However, today was different. Sango had cried profusely in her sleep, letting out a sudden scream that shook Kohaku right out of his restless sleep.

"It was just a bad dream, Kohaku, don't worry," she whispered to him, patting his head and giving him a reassuring, but sad, smile. It was not long before he had fallen asleep again.

0o0o0o0o

The smell of food woke them up both and they rushed to wash their face and hands before heading out to have breakfast with their family. Sango could not remember a time when they had not done this, gather around the fire and enjoy each other's company before separating to complete their tasks for the day. She relished the smell of the warm, even if simple, food her mother prepared as her father told stories of his years as a young demon exterminator. He would tell about near-death experiences, deadly demons who threatened villages, the happy tears of villagers rejoiced when they heard word of the demon's defeat. Her father would commend her training, give her advice on how to improve her performance, Kohaku looking on with curious eyes as he took all the information in. He too had begun training not too long ago. Their mother would look on with a smile, giving each of them a kiss before they set out for the day.

"Kohaku, you sure are hungry this morning," she commented with a smile on her face, pushing more food in his direction to silently encourage him to have his fill.

"Of course, he is my boy, he's gonna get big and strong," their father added with a grin.

"Sango...you aren't eating much this morning," her mother commented with a grimace, "you look tired, are you feeling sick?"

"Sister had a nightmare last night, she was even cry-" Kohaku started before Sango nudged him with her thigh and gave him a disapproving look, "sorry!" He said with a nervous smile.

"Nightmare? What about?" Her mother asked, concern written all over her face as she looked for any answer to be visible on Sango's face. Sango smiled shily and kept eating her food. Her parents pursued the matter no further.

It was to be today, it had been decided over many meetings and consultations between the elders and the fortunetellers. Today, Sango would be married to the most powerful lord of the Western Lands, Lord Sesshomaru. There was little that she knew about him, other than information on his claim to the lordship, there was not much more she was granted. A meeting between her father and the Lord had been had, as was customary in these types of arranged marriages. Nevertheless, her father had very little to say apart from he was a suitable mate.

In her village, courtship and marriage was an important part of a young person's life. Many demon exterminators in her village married early and started families almost immediately. Their profession was one of constant danger, it was a survival technique and as soon as a woman was ready to bear children, many men in the village would start showing interest. In the end, the best ranked man would win the opportunity to marry the woman of their choosing. Women often chose to stay at home but when their husbands were away, were often required to participated in the gathering and hunting of food. Therefore, women had always had a strong role in the household, as both nurturers and providers.

Ever since she was a little girl, she often wondered about her future mate. She imagined he would be tall, intelligent, strong, but most importantly understanding. She did not know if she wanted to give up her training as soon as she were married and hoped to find a man that respected her wishes. The man she dreamed of would be someone of her village, someone she could respect and love. Sango knew that many women did not marry out of love but hoped that she would be an exception to that rule.

As the daughter of a councilman, Sango had led a privileged life. Her father was a serious but very kind man who took great interest in Sango, he was one of the few men in her village that saw past her womanhood and was able to focus on her talent as an exterminator. He trained her just as hard as the men in the village and over time, Sango grew strong, both physically and mentally, ready for any challenge. Her mother was a strong-willed woman. She was not the type to sit around and wait to fulfill the bidding of her husband. After the birth of her daughter and her son, Sango's mother returned to the field, training and joining the demon extermination group, working hard and killing any demon that stood in her path.

Therefore, when news of her arranged marriage had reached her, Sango could not help but laugh, her laughter dying as she saw the unchanging expression on the face of her parents. Sango was in complete shock. How could her parents agree to something so terrible? Why would a demon exterminator marry a demon? The irony of it all baffled her.

"Sometimes we are expected to make sacrifices, to do something so out of the ordinary that we think impossible, for the people we love. This is one of those times, Sango, and I am counting on you," her father had reassured her using words to that effect.

And regardless of any protest she put up, Sango was promised to and set to marry this Lord Sesshomaru, a youkai no less, that she knew nothing of. Most women welcomed their wedding day with a smile and open arms but for Sango, it marked the beginning of a lifelong battle with misery.

The day moved slowly, but even that did nothing to quench the feelings of dread turning in her stomach and making her feel ill. There was no feeling of excitement, Sango may not have known much about Lord Sesshomaru but what she did know was what mattered the most: the relationship between a youkai and a human was frown upon, even in instances of political agreement. While there would be no denying the legitimacy of this marriage, the amount of respect, freedom, and responsibility that she would get from her youkai husband was entirely depended upon him. And Sango had an increasing suspicion that it would not be in her favor.

While life after a woman was sent to court was often kept under wraps and in whispers among friends over meals, Sango had heard instances of youkai treating their human wives more like courtesans, enjoying the pleasure of their company like a common man might enjoy the company of a woman in a brothel. They could be subjected to abuse from their husbands or other members of the family with little to no consequences. The human wife would not be able to stop her husband from external affairs, taking on a second or third wife, or even choosing a mate to bear pureblooded children. In Sango's eyes, it was a fate just as bad as slavery. She wanted to feel angry, to despise her parents who were her sole protectors. But, in the back of her mind, Sango knew that this was a decision beyond their hands.

When the sun was directly overhead, Sango was whisked away into town to prepare for her wedding ceremony. She was attended to by a small group of older women from the village, women whose job was to tend to the preparations of a bride. The old women bathed her, scrubbing her skin diligently to unveil the delicate, porcelain skin underneath. Flowers and warm water were added to the bath, the women talking among themselves and admiring her beauty. Even though Sango would be a fool not to smile and bow her head in appreciation, deep down she knew that this "beauty" had just been an added factor, another reason to give her such a terrible fate.

"I hear Lord Sesshomaru is quite handsome," the high pitched voiced of the woman at her hair took her out of her trance, "he is said to be one of most handsome Lords in the kingdom, Sango, he has these deep, golden eyes, and breathtaking long, silver hair," the woman went on, the desire in her voice painting a picture in Sango's head. It was the custom of the time for women to have long, silky hair. Her mother's hair almost touched her feet. Sango's had grown well past her waist but at sixteen, it would be years before it reached her feet. To think that a man, a daiyoukai no less, would poses a similar length in hair made her curious.

"He is feared by all in his kingdom, there is no match for him, he is just that powerful," the old woman added.

"A leader who is feared is no leader at all. Rather than fear, respect is most important," Sango responded.

"Perhaps," the woman said with a shrug, combing out the knots of Sango's long, dark hair and leaving behind silk, straight hair in her wake, "but if he can inspire that much fear in others, he must be quite a man," the woman added.

"That is no man, he is a demon," Sango added. The woman worked through her hair with her bare hands, her fingers delicately undoing any knot that she came across. The woman's face was wrinkled, the beginning of old age decorating her face like a badge of honor. Sango had met her in the past but could not put a name to her face, regardless, it would be impolite to refer the old woman by that name. Sango distantly wondered what kind of life the old woman had lived, wondering how her own life may have turned out if she had not been promised to this youkai.

"Marriage on this day is a lucky thing," the woman said with a smile and a sparkle in her eye, "the village fortunetellers have taken great care to choose a day that will bring your marriage happiness and prosperity. Remember that this is not a punishment, many young women would have been happy with a similar fate as yours," she added.

Sango laughed cynically. "I would be happy to let any of those young women take my place, had it been up to me, I-"she began but stopped herself. It did not matter how many times she repeated herself, there was nothing she could do to stop from becoming the demon lord's wife that afternoon.

"It is important to focus on the positive things," the woman added, "us women don't get many choices in life, see this as an opportunity instead of an obstacle. It is only in this way that a woman can truly become strong," the woman said with a reassuring smile but Sango knew, she just knew that this was an obstacle that would last with her for the rest of her life.

"Sango, are you still on about this marriage?" a familiar face peaked into the room, her mother's face broke into one of concern. It was an expression that she had worn from the time Sango had been told news of her engagement. Sango's mother bowed to the older women in appreciation before taking a comb to Sango's hair, her hand warm and reassuring against Sango's scalp.

"Mother, please," Sango said, her voice straining as if she were on the verge of tears. It took all she had to control herself, to stop the gates from bursting open and tears from streaming down her cheeks and ruining the white powder on her face. "Please don't make me do this," she added, tears gathering in the corners of her eyes.

Sango could tell that her mother was on the verge of tears as well but her voice sounded constrained, "Sango, this matter is out of my hands, my dear" she said, somewhat regrettably. "This is the way of our people, this is the only way," she responded silently.

This was a fate worse than death.

0o0o0o0o

The preparations for the bride's room had started several months ago, when the engagement had been agreed on and had gone on until the early afternoon. House servants rushed back and forth, taking special care to make the court grounds as inviting as possible. The massive castle was maintained meticulously clean, but the change in season and the special occasion called for an even more throughout inspection of the castle grounds, the shoji screens were replaced with new paper, the tatami mats were replaced, the sleeping mats were dusted and aired out, the wooden floors cleaned meticulously.

It was customary for the son to visit on the bride's home after an exchange of letters, he was then to stay for three nights. If such a task was completed, the new groom would be welcomed into the family. While it was common for the groom to stay with the bride's family until she was with child, it was increasingly popular for the woman to come stay at the home of her new husband. Sesshomaru could not simply leave his post, and this was no traditional marriage of power and political prestige. The human girl was to come live at their residence, and therefore a place for her had been built, and she would stay there and in the grounds of the palace until she was asked to do otherwise. Often, the man would call on his wife until she was with child, where after he would visit her room only on special occasions, mostly spending his night away with concubines and other courtesans. Inutaisho had not visited her much, in fact, when the Lady Mother had realized of the type of relationship between Izayoi and Inutaisho, she had been asked to be understanding. Once she had become pregnant and threatened her own son's birthright, that is when she decided to take matters into her own hands.

The Lady Mother sat in the tea room, the screen doors had been opened to reveal the garden and to air out the rooms. She looked upon the house servants as they pulled the weeds from the garden, their careful work and absolute silent painting a beautiful picture of commoner life. Silently, she reviewed the preparations for the wedding in her mind. Her son, the groom, sat at her side, reading silently over scrolls on the castle's finance. He did not need to concern himself with the financial expenditures of the wedding, but he did like to be in control. The Lady Mother had seen to it that he was given the impression that he was in charge but after all, her words were the final say.

"Lady Mother, all the preparations have been made for the bride's visit this afternoon," one of the attendants reported, his eyes strictly on the ground as he addressed the woman sitting at the table.

"Sesshomaru, come now, it's time to prepare for your new wife," she said, rising to her feet, gesturing him over with her hand. The layers of her junihitoe, brightly dyed layers, drapping down her body in waves of fine silk.

"Mother, please enlighten me once more, why is it that I must proceed with this farce," he asked, slight irritation evident in his cold voice, "if I have not even taken a mate, what makes you think that I'd father any children with that human? Even the thought of laying with her disgusts me," he added.

"Father children? Oh my, Sesshomaru, please don't even tell me that has crossed your mind. Of course you aren't to father any children with that human, how disgraceful. It is a sign of respect, a sacrifice of sorts, human marriage means absolutely nothing to us daiyoukai but it does to them. Taking a human wife is almost like taking in an orphan, or a slave. She is to do your bidding and in return we are to offer our hospitality, keep her feed, clothed, and educate her. She will eventually grow old, then die, and there will be no need to take another wife," she explained plainly. "Once you've taken a mate, I will be sure to have her relocated to a one of our residences in the mountains. There, she can live out the rest of her days in peace without causing any inconvenience to you."

"But father," Sesshomaru started.

"Your father was a fool," the woman narrowed her eyes in displeasure at the mention of her former mate and father to her son, "he took things too far, and see how everything turned out for him," she lingered. Her mate had been dead for years, but she still felt uncomfortable saying such things out loud. Regardless of how strong she was, she had once loved him.

"And what do these humans give us in return? What could we possibly need from them?" Sesshomaru pressed on.

"Civil order, respect, and most importantly allegiance to you. These are serious times, Sesshomaru, take the wrong path and before you know it, your whole kingdom is taken from under you. Humans are not powerful in the way we are but a Lord must watch over all of the subjects and led them with a powerful hand. One wrong move and they will cause upheaval on the land," she tried to reason with her son.

"Then they shall all perish," Sesshomaru responded thoughtfully.

"Oh my son, so much to learn," she said with a sweet smile, "your father may have been a fool for falling in love with a human woman but he still knew how important it was to coexist with them for the sake of peace," she said. "There will be many long battles that will test your patience and your strength. Having humans cause trouble in the villages will only show that our kingdom is destabilized, as long as they know their place, it will cause less trouble in the end."

The Lady Mother stopped at the end of the corridor, watching as her son was taken away by the attendants to prepare him. She herself had once been preparing for a wedding of her own. It was not a choice, it really never was for the woman, Inutaisho had inquired about her after seeing her out and about with her handmaidens. He had inherited a powerful kingdom from his family but her family was renowned for their political strategy and had a stake in the world. She had never been asked, never been consulted about her wishes to be married. It had just been so.

This human woman would inherit no responsibility other than keeping out of her husband's sight. She would have to bear no children, no social expectations would be placed upon her, she would have no need to show face in front of others or entertain foreign guests. In return, this human girl would receive beautiful clothing, delicious meals, and an education. Oh, the uncomplicated thing it is to be human, she thought with a small smile.

0o0o0o0o

Everyone from the village had come to see her off, her tears flowing freely as she was taken away from her family, her mother, father, and little brother taking turns to hug her tightly and bid her good luck and goodbye. She would certainly see them again, how often or when she did not know, from today forward she would be expected to live in the favor of her husband. It was a day and a half's journey to the palace, one which she would take alone, apart from the welcoming party that greeted her at the edge of the village to take her to her new station. The welcoming party consisted of several guards, servants, two handmaidens, and an woman who called herself Meisho. While Meisho had a young face, based on her position and her words, Sango could only guess that the demoness was in fact hundreds of years old.

"Lady Sango, we will arrive shortly," the young handmaiden announced, pointing in the direction of the monstrous castle gates. She had never been to the castle before, there was never any reason to, and so the sight of the walls were enough to overwhelm her. This was her home.

Once inside the gate, Sango was helped off of the horse and whisked away into one of the inner rooms. Once again, Sango's skin was scrubbed, her hair perfumed, and her body weighed down by twelve layers of fine silk, the clothes that she would be required to wear during her time at court. There were so many things that she felt but no words could express how she felt. Sango was numb, going through the motions because it was expected of her. She blocked out the images of her family members waving goodbye with tears in their eyes, blocked out the fear and anxiety that she had.

"Lady Sango? Lady Sango are you alright?" One of the young attendants asked with concern, her face looking closely at Sango's for any sign of understanding, any sign of life. She could probably sense her feelings but as a handmaiden it was wrong to assume in the presence of a lady. In the castle of dog demons, Sango suddenly felt overexposed and burst into tears.

"I can't, I really can't," Sango said, her body sliding to the floor, her hands shaking, as she cupped her face in distress. Sango could not think about anything, could not look past the fact that from today she was no longer in her own home, from today she was a slave to the very things that she despised, demons. And, regardless of the amount of training she had undergone or how much she had to offer her village and her family, there was nothing to be done. And it was that and everything else that kept her tears flowing down her face.

"You can and you shall, human girl," a firm, cold voice cut through the room, the voice turning Sango's ears red hot as she looked up and saw the woman, whom she assumed to be the Lady Mother, standing in the screen door, the sun shining brightly behind her, obscuring her features and making her almost difficult to look at. Sango blinked, almost stunned and surprised, before she was nudged by Lady Meisho, and remembered to bow deeply, avoiding her eyes.

"Lady Mother!" The handmaidens were also taken by surprised, Sango could only assume they were humans or lesser youkai by their delayed reaction, the young women dropping what they were doing to bow before the youkai woman.

"Meisho, please see to it that the human girl is brought to her quarters, it is almost sunset and Lord Sesshomaru will be visiting her room soon," she announced, swiftly turning to take her leave.

Sango had never had the luxury of staying in such a big room before, she had not taken time to think about how these things would change once she became the daimyo's wife. With Lady Meisho's encouragement, Sango had managed to take her mind off of thoughts on how her life would change and to focus on pleasing her new husband. She did not know much about him nor of what he would like, but Lady Meisho recommended that she try her best. If she was humble, silent, and most importantly, docile, he would not bother with her daily activities. Over time, Lady Meisho suspected that Sango would have the liberty to roam the castle, learn anything she wanted to, and possibly even visit her family before the leaves changed color in the fall.

The location of the room was ideal, as she opened a pair of screen doors, she was greeted with the sight of the cherry blossom trees, majestic pink flowers decorating the many branches, petals falling to the floor and into the brook outlining a path through the middle of the castle. If she opened the screens just across the room, she had a view of the sun, deep red and purple decorating the sky as it began to hide in the horizon. The landscapes like something she would have seen in a painting. In the middle of the room was a curtained bed, material pooling on the floor and concealing her sleeping quarters from the cold and wandering eyes. Big palaces left little room for privacy but in the company of dog demons, Dango felt even more exposed.

In front of the curtained bed, a sitting are had been arranged along with a folding screen, made from several joined panels, images of Mount Fuji, cherry blossoms, and fields of yellow flowers decorating its panels and bringing life to the room. Sango sat, admiring the beauty of the landscape when she suddenly heard footsteps approaching her door.

"My Lady, Lord Sesshomaru has arrived to visit upon you," a voice pulled her from her thoughts suddenly, panic making her heart beat faster and faster.

Sango scrambled to take a seat at the table, sitting on her legs nervously as the door opened and a short, green imp demon made way for the tall shadow behind him. It was the first time that she had ever laid eyes on him but even her wildest ideas on his appearance could not even come close to what he looked like in real life. It was hard to forget he was a demon, there was no human man that could be just that beautiful. His deep, golden eyes looked silently around the room, but his expression was unreadable. That was until he narrowed his eyes, looked down at Sango, and took a seat.

"Jaken, leave us," he said, his deep voice, smooth but menacing.

"Yes, my Lord," the little demon replied before scurrying away, closing the screen doors shut.

When he looked up at her, Sango immediately lowered her eyes and stared at her lap. She did not what to say, did not know how to react or what to do. Was she to speak to him first? Or, was she to wait for his question? Several minutes went by, the silence was almost deafening as Sango's mind scrambled to figure out what to do. She did not dare to look up but she could feel his eyes burning holes into her, his stare just as deadly as his kind.

"L-lord Sesshomaru-" she started, deciding that it was best for her to talk to him first.

"Human," he replied, before standing to his feet again and looking down on her, "undress," he added. His voice nonchalant, cold and uncaring, commanding her as if she were a servant, waiting for his orders.

Sango was in shock.



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