"Enter!" said the booming voice from beyond the door. Kagome slowly slid open the shoji doors that led to the counsel room. Sitting on his throne with his wife by his side Lord Hiroshi looked nothing short of irritated.
"Lord Hiroshi may I speak with you?" Kagome said in the calmest and most polite voice she could muster.
"Where have you been girl? Lady Keade says she sent you to town hours ago!" Kagome flinched at the harsh tone in her Lord's voice. She closed her eyes and bowed her head in respect. When she opened her eyes he beckoned her closer with a simple wave of his hand. She stood up and walked close to thrown before falling to her knees again.
"You have disrespected my guest by keeping them waiting with your foolish antics!"
"My lord I can-" but he cut her off to continue his tirade.
"You will be silent! You shall be punished for your tardiness and lack of consideration." Lord Hiroshi raised his hand to strike her but was stopped when another presence entered the small room.
"Lord Hiroshi I can attest to your servants whereabouts this afternoon." Inuyasha said as he stepped into the room. He and Kagome had walked down to the counsel room together, but she had thanked him for his company and entered the room alone. Inuyasha had been ready to walk away and find his mother and Miroku, when the yelling from inside persuaded him to a peak inside. Knowing that Kagome was about to be punished for something that wasn’t her fault Inuyasha knew he had to intervene.
"Prince Inuyasha would you care to explain then." Lord Hiroshi said trying to keep the anger from his voice and failing.
"My cousin Miroku and I were taking a stroll through town when we heard a scream. When we followed the noise into the forest I found Kagome here being attacked by a group of drunken bandits, and let's just say they weren't after her groceries." Inuyasha finished in a grave tone.
"Is this true Kagome? Were you attacked this afternoon?" Lady Ayako said gently, her genuine concern ebbing some of the girls’ fear.
"Yes my lady. On my way back to the castle I decided to take the shortcut through the forest. I don't remember much after I was attacked but when I awoke I was here. I came to apologize." Kagome was bowing so low her forehead was almost touching the floor.
"Well, all is forgiven and we are glad that you are safe. Aren't we my husband?" Lord Hiroshi only grunted in response. "And we would like to thank you as well Prince Inuyasha for saving Kagome today."
"It was nothing." He said, feeling awkward about accepting so much praise in one day.
"You both may be excused." With that the two young adults took their leave.
"Why did you do that?" Kagome asked. She hadn't expected Inuyasha to be there. She was sure once she entered the room he would leave to find his family.
"I couldn't let you get punished for being attacked. It wouldn't have been right." He looked over at the girl next to him to see her smiling gratefully at him. Somehow that smile had turned his insides to goo...and he didn’t mind the feeling.
"Well thank you again, for everything that you have done for me today." She said with a slight bow.
"Keh whatever, and you don't have to be so formal with me, you know with all the bowing crap. I hate it when people act like that." he said in a gruff tone.
"Well you are a prince are you not? Shouldn't it be expected that those below you show you respect?" Kagome said confused by his sudden attitude.
"Yeah well I don't have the same views as most royalty."
"I see." An uncomfortable silence stretched between the two before Kagome decided to break it.
" It’s getting late, shouldn't you find your family Inuyasha?" She asked him.
"Uh, yeah." Before he could make a move to look for Miroku or his mother, a young man walked up to them.
"Excuse me Prince Inuyasha?" The man stated.
"Yeah?" Inuyasha asked.
"Um, I was told to inform you that your cousin and mother have left the castle. You are to stay here tonight." With that the man left just as abruptly as he came.
"What the hell! How could they just leave me like that, in some random place no less? I swear when I get back home..." Inuyasha continued to rant and ramble under his breath all the way to the servants' quarters, unconsciously following Kagome.
"Um Inuyasha where are you going?" Kagome asked snapping Inuyasha out of his mental checklist of the things he was going to yell about when he got home.
"I don't know, where am I supposed to be going?" he asked.
"How am I supposed to know? I'm going to get ready for bed." She turned around to walk into her room when she felt a hand close around her wrist.
"Well where am I supposed to sleep?" the exhaustion from today was starting to catch up with him and sleeping in the hallway was not sounding too appealing.
"I’m sure dinner has already been served, so the royal family has probably already retired to their rooms. Like I said I was going to bed but you can't sleep in here...these rooms are where the servants sleep."
His gripe around her wrist tightened at her words, and a sharp tinge of guilt went straight through her heart.
“But I don’t have anywhere else to go…come on Kagome, please let me stay here.” Inuyasha put on his best puppy dog face, jutting out his bottom lip as watched Kagome wage an internal war within herself.
Kagome looked at him again, and the battle was won. I mean really, who could deny a face like that?
"Fine! Just don't tell anyone, I could get in big trouble for this." Looking to her left, then to her right she deemed the coast clear and pushed Inuyasha inside. Too bad she missed the shadowy figures who had heard and seen the entire conversation.
"Dammit! What the hell does he think he's doing?" Yelled the young woman.
"It seems the young prince is infatuated with that pitiful servant girl. It's disgusting if you ask me." Said a distinctly male voice, his tone full of malice and distaste.
"Well no one did!" The woman snapped. "I'll nip this in the bud quick. Prince Inuyasha is mine. Father already has already spoken to Lady Izayoi, this union will take place whether he likes it or not. I’ll just have to make it known to the girl she is to stay away from him."
"Hmph, no need to tell me. I’ll keep up my end of the deal as long as you keep yours, no harm is to come to the girl unless it’s by my hand."
"I only care about Inuyasha. Now go do what I pay you to do."
"As you wish." and with that last sarcastic remark the male was gone.
If all went according to plan then Kagome would be out of the picture and Inuyasha would be hers. Her pretty face twisted into an evil smirk as she walked into her bedroom to dream about a certain midnight haired man.
"Sango are you in here?" Kagome called out walking into the room.
"Kagome! Are you okay? I heard about...Lord...Hiroshi." Her eyes widened upon seeing Kagome's guest. "Kagome what is he doing here? If someone catches you we'll all be in trouble."
"I know which is why you need to keep it down. His family left him and he's stuck here for the night. He saved me twice today and I believe I owe him."
"Twice?" Sango questioned.
"When I went to see Lord Hiroshi let's just say he wasn't in a forgiving mood, but Inuyasha was able to convince him there was no need to punish me."
"Well I'd like to thank you for saving her Inuyasha, she's my best friend so I guess you should be allowed to stay here tonight." Sango walked to the closet to set out the futons and grab fresh sheets.
"Um, your welcome?" Kagome gave him a sleeping yukata to change into. The serving quarters were small and the bathroom was all the way down the other end of the hall. Inuyasha, Sango and Kagome decided to it would be easier and safer to turn around and change...as long as Inuyasha promised not to peak.
"Keh like I'd want to look anyway." he scoffed. It was a good thing he had his back turned to them or they surely would have seen the blush he began to sport as soon as he heard the rustling of their clothes.
"Okay you can turn around now." Inuyasha already changed, turned to see both girls climbing into their futons.
"Goodnight Inuyasha." he heard Kagome whisper as he pulled the covers over his body.
"G'night Kagome." As Inuyasha let the days exhaustion pull him into slumber he couldn't help the small the smile that cut its way across his face. For the first time in a long time Inuyasha and Kagome's dreams were not filled with blood and pain, but peace and happiness.
As the sun rose higher into the sky, light began to pour through the lightly drawn curtains. A groan was heard as a young woman slowly began to awaken. Kagome yawned and stretched as she wiped the remnants sleep from her eyes. She turned her head at the sound of more movement to see Inuyasha also blinking the sleep from his violet eyes.
"Mornin'." Inuyasha half said, half yawned.
"Good morning Inuyasha. How did you sleep?" Kagome asked politely.
"Actually pretty good. My nightmares usually have me up at dawn."
"Yeah me too. It was nice to finally get a full night sleep. Do you have plans for today?"
"Not really, I just have to wait for my mother and Miroku to came back for me I guess."
"Oh right, well breakfast should be served soon. Just go to the main dining hall and the royal family should be eating there. And make sure you're careful when you leave." Kagome said as she stood and began folding her bedding.
Inuyasha stood up and started to fold his bedding as well. He turned his head when he felt like someone was staring at him, only to see Kagome doing just that.
"What?" he said somewhat impatiently.
"I, uh, I didn't think...um." Kagome blushed hotly at being caught.
"What you didn't think I knew how to fold? Just cause I'm a prince doesn't mean I like being waited on hand and foot. I can provide for myself if need be." He said annoyed.
"I'm sorry, I didn't mean to offend you." She said sincerely.
"You know that seems to be your answer for everything." Kagome smiled at him and giggled when his response to her teasing was another ‘keh’.
"Your clothes are on the windowsill. I'm going to the bathroom to wash up and change, I have to work soon." Kagome walked over to her dresser and pulled out something comfortable to wear.
"Have a good day Inuyasha." She said as she walked out of the room, leaving him behind.
Inuyasha practically jumped out of his skin when the sound of someone in the room clearing their throat cut through the silence left after Kagome’s departure. When he looked over his shoulder the girl, Sango, was giving him a wry look.
"Um, can I help you?" Inuyasha said uncertainly.
"What was that?" she asked.
"I have no idea what you're taking about." he scoffed.
"Like hell you don't! Look I don't know what's going on between you and Kagome but if anything happens to her because of it, it'll be on your head." With that Sango left to preform her duties for that day.
When the door shut Inuyasha let out a breath he didn't know he'd been holding.
'Those two girls are gonna be the death of me.' Inuyasha sighed and rubbed his temples.
Walking down the hall in a daze not really paying attention to anything, Inuyasha was brought back to reality when crashed into another warm body.
"Omph!" said the female voice.
"Oh excuse me, I wasn't watching where I was going." He looked down at the person he'd nearly run over only to find it was the princess of the castle.
"Prince Inuyasha? What are you doing here?" the young princess asked.
"My mother and cousin left me stranded here last night. Are you okay? You didn't hurt yourself did you?" Inuyasha held out his hand to help the girl to her feet, realizing she had still been on the ground this whole time.
She dusted off her robes as she stood fully on her feet. "Oh I'm quite alright, were you heading to breakfast?" she asked.
"Would you like to walk together?"
"Um, sure why not?" With that the two young people made their way to the dining hall. Kikyou slid her arm through Inuyasha's as she guided him down the hallway. But Inuyasha failed to see the mysterious glint in the princess' eyes, or the smirk she sent over her shoulder to the person Inuyasha had failed to notice in the shadows.
Kagome walked down the hall towards the dining hall. Secretly hoping she would be able to see Inuyasha. She shook her head and sighed. There was no use trying to pretend that she wasn't physically attracted to the young prince, he was very handsome. But what she didn't have time for were the butterflies that fluttered in her stomach when they were close to each other, or the warm sensation that spread up her arms when they accidentally touched, or the way her heart would race when he smiled or locked eyes with her. Those feelings were dangerous and could only lead to trouble.
Kagome stopped when she heard a sudden thud. She peered around the corner to see Inuyasha bending down to help someone to their feet. Only when the person was standing did Kagome recognize her.
'Princess Kikyou? What is she doing in the halls? She should be eating with her family by now.' Kagome thought.
She couldn't make out the words they were exchanging, but felt a strange pang in her heart when the princess smiled brightly at Inuyasha and took his arm.
'What was that?' Kagome thought as she put a hand on her chest. Kagome jumped a mile when she saw Princess Kikyou turn to smirk at her, her expression was territorial...almost possessive. Kagome swallowed to choke down the uneasy feeling that swelling within her, but even as shook her head clear and made to move with the rest of her day, the feeling didn’t go away.