He remembered her scent most of all. Apple blossoms and the sharp tang of pine accompanied her wherever she went. In truth, he couldn't even explain his fascination with the creature other than mild curiosity for why she acted so oddly.
He first spotted the girl, no more than twelve years old walking through the woods outside of her village while he traveled through his father's lands. Young, barely into his teenage years, brash and foolish, he believed that nothing could harm him. He was sorely mistaken. Not more than a week after he began to observe her, he had been attacked by a panther demon lying in wait. The fight was short-lived, ending with he, Sesshomaru, victorious, but with a severe wound on his chest.
As he lay there on the ground, trying to ignore the faint prickle of fear that threatened to creep up on him with each pump of his heart pushing out more of his lifeblood into the grass below him, he studied the clouds above with mild interest. One thing he watched her do for hours at a time, she would simply lay in a field of grass, concealing herself from family that searched for her and stared up at the clouds with delight clearly shining on her face.
A sudden shadow blocked his view, making a low growl of warning slip from his lips, his eyes burning red in warning for whoever or whatever it was that dared to come close to him. "Ye do realize, if I leave now. Ye'll most likely end up dying, hai?" A soft voice asked curiously, not a hint of fear in it as the shadow above shifted enough for him to see it was the girl he had watched, her head tipped to the side in curiosity. "What happened to ye?"
"It is of no concern to a human such as yourself." He huffed, trying to retain his dignified air despite the fact he lay bleeding profusely on the ground. Blinking the sudden blur from his eyes, Sesshomaru caught a twinkle of amusement in her blue ones while they studied him. "Ye still have a bit of a bark in ye. Good to know the son of Lord Taisho would never lay down and whimper about his wounds." A smile flitted across her face as she knelt down next to him, a basket beside her full of what he could smell to be herbs.
"Would ye allow me to tend to the wounds ye sport? Or would ye rather lay here and lick them?"
Issuing another low growl at her, Sesshomaru turned his head away, cursing the fact he had been wounded so badly, resulting in this unwanted altercation with her. "Do what you wish. It is of no consequence to me if you help or not." He finally uttered darkly, ignoring the gentle laugh issuing from the young girl beside him. "Hai, ye have the spirit of a fighter indeed."
"Why do you help me?"
"Hm?" The young girl glanced up from where she knelt beside a stream, her hands still in the water as she washed them. A small frown appeared on her face once she caught sight of him leaning against a nearby tree, a hand wrapped over-top the wound she had just bandaged. "Ye should not be up! Demon or not, the wound ye have could be deadly if ye do not rest." She retorted sharply, narrowing clear blue eyes in an imitation of anger at the shocked demon.
"You dare order this Sesshomaru?" He asked slowly, a prickle of anger surfacing at the audacity this young girl had to speak the way she did to him. Shaking her head, the girl turned back to washing his blood and the herbs she used to treat his wound from her hands. "Iie, I simply state a fact, my Lord." A soft sigh came from her as she stood back up and retrieved her basket, ignoring the fact the hem of her kimono was torn up to rest below her knees. Without any bandages nearby, she had to use the only thing she could think of at the time.
"I see... You still did not answer my question, Human. Why do you help me?" Sesshomaru frowned at her back, irritated that she wouldn't turn to face him while he spoke. "I help anyone who needs it, demon or human." She replied simply, honesty ringing clear in her tone, her head turning to look over her shoulder at him, a gentle smile on her face. "I must be leaving now, my Lord. Please do take care of those wounds."
Without waiting for him to reply, she disappeared into the trees, vanishing from his sight as he stood there with a small frown still on his face.
Six years passed without him returning to watch the girl again, his thoughts turned more to training in an effort to keep from being attacked like that once again. His father took it upon himself to train Sesshomaru with his sword rather than leaving it to another mentor like his other lessons were.
Once he received his father's approval, Sesshomaru returned to his usual prowling across the lands, ignoring the vassal meant to trail him and purposely loosing the irritating creature before reaching the village once again.
Amber eyes searched the dirt roads running through and between the huts, searching for the familiar head of brown hair before turning towards the field he knew she normally resided in when not in the village itself. Lifting his head, Sesshomaru scented the air to catch her unique scent and followed it into the woods this time, his lithe body keeping to the trees instead of the ground.
The scent lead him to a small clearing, earning a small scowl from him as he searched the area. Her scent hovered in the air, indicating she had been there, but he couldn't find the girl. Scanning the area, he spotted a familiar basket along with a small bundle on top of it sitting next to the small pond that lay in the center of the clearing.
Furrowing his eyebrows, Sesshomaru dropped to the ground and strode over to the items, clawed hands reaching out to pick up a simple kimono dyed a deep forest green accompanied by a white under haori and a deep blue obi. Wrinkling his brow in confusion, he cast his gaze around the area once again. Why on earth would this girl leave her clothes laying around? Sniffing at the air again, he caught another whiff of her scent, faint, but unmistakable before a splashing sound could be heard from the water behind him.
Spinning around, he drew his sword from it's sheath only to be met by a young woman standing waist deep in the water, hair cascading over her shoulders to float in the water around her. The look of shock and surprise on her face froze him in place. The woman blinked suddenly then dropped down into the water, her arms covering her chest with a soft cry of surprise. "Ah! My Lord, what are ye doing here?" She demanded wildly, blue eyes wide and a faint shade of red beginning to cover her face and neck.
Blinking his own eyes, Sesshomaru placed his sword back where it belonged and sniffed the air again, frowning at the scent before realizing the young woman was the young girl that he watched with mild curiosity years ago. "You are that girl. The one that healed my wounds." He stated simply, not bothering to turn away as she ducked down farther so her chin touched the top of the water, blue eyes now cautious. "Hai. I am the same. While ye haven't changed, my Lord. I have aged."
"Hm." He hummed an affirmation, amber eyes carefully taking in her new appearance, slightly surprised and amused to see the blush on her face deepen under his scrutiny. "Why are you here?" He finally asked, settling himself down on the ground comfortably, inwardly smirking at the heated glare she sent his way. "I was bathing, if ye wish to know so badly. Now if ye would be so kind as to turn around so I may dress myself?"
Tipping his head to the side, Sesshomaru reached up with a clawed hand to brush his silver hair back over his shoulder as it slipped in front of him as he remained silent, letting her fidget in the water for a bit more before turning himself around, his back facing her like she asked. A soft sigh of relief issued from her as the sounds of splashing indicated she left the pond followed by the rustling of cloth. "Ye may turn back now, my Lord."
Glancing over his shoulder at her, he eyed the woman as she pulled a wooden comb through her wet hair, a small frown on her face as she tried to pull it through a rather large clump. Gritting her teeth, she closed her eyes and yanked harder only to have a sharp snapping sound make them pop back open in disbelief. "I broke it?"
The utter disbelief shining in her eyes nearly caused Sesshomaru to chuckle, his amber eyes wisely looking away from her so she wouldn't catch the amusement he knew to be written clearly there as she flung the broken bits of comb into the lake and proceeded to simply tie her hair up in an attempt to hide the knots that were still there.
"Why have ye returned after so long, my Lord?" Her curious voice caught his attention again, making him turn back to face her, a single eyebrow raised up. "We are in the Western Lands of my father. I have every right to wander them as his son." He stated simply, not missing the small flicker of something in her blue eyes before she hid it from him.
"I see. So Ye are simply patrolling the lands?" She asked with a small smile on her face, a hand reaching up to brush back a small lock of hair that refused to stay in the knot she tied the rest up into. "Hm." Sesshomaru nodded curtly, not even sure as to why he was sitting here talking to this human in the first place.
Reaching a decision, he stood gracefully, taking his companion by surprise judging by the startled look she sent him from where she still knelt on the ground. "Are ye leaving now, my Lord?" She asked finally, catching his quick glance towards the trees before it returned to her face. "Hai."
"I see. Then safe travels, my Lord." She stood and bowed to him politely, her hands already clutching the basket in front of her, eyes pointed at the ground. Watching her curiously, he turned to face the woods once more. "Sesshomaru."
"My Lord?" Her face turned up to look at him in confusion at his statement. Glancing back at her sideways, he frowned slightly in irritation at having to repeat himself. "Call me Sesshomaru."
The sparkle in her eyes at having caught on to what he meant accompanied a shy smile as she bowed her head once more. "Very well, Lord Sesshomaru. Safe travels."
Nodding his head curtly, he turned to walk away only to stop at the edge of the trees, his back still turned to her as he studied the shadows before speaking up once again. "You never told me your name, Human."
"Oh! My name? My name is Sonya, Lord Sesshomaru."
Nodding his head once again, he disappeared into the trees, leaving behind a softly smiling young woman looking after him.
Two months passed, Sesshomaru continually visited with the strange human known as Sonya at least once a week in the clearing with the pond. The way she spoke, acted and even thought were different from the other humans he ever met. Not that many, mind, but enough to know she was like no one else. Even after two months, he still couldn't understand his odd fascination with the woman.
She treated him with respect more often than not, never dropping the honorific in his name whenever she addressed him. But the way she spoke was hardly befitting someone who spoke to a lord. Telling him his ideals were wrong, or what he said wasn't what she liked.
If he could put a reason behind his insistence on meeting with her, he would say she was refreshing compared to the others he spoke to that agreed with everything he said and simpered in ways that made his very skin crawl with disgust.
He began to look forward to seeing her without openly admitting it to himself, he refused to acknowledge the fact he walked just a little faster the closer he got to the clearing, He refused to admit he began to call it their clearing instead of just her's. He didn't want to think about how her scent came to mind whenever he lay down to sleep at night, or how her eyes would express everything so much better than facial expressions or words ever could.
He refused to admit he cared.
Without warning, his father called him back home, insisting it was urgent he hurry without delay. Leaving Sesshomaru without a chance to tell her, he resigned himself to leaving a sealed scroll in his place at the clearing, hoping she would find it before an animal or rain came along.
"Urgent business." Sesshomaru snorted, his long strides carrying him across the land as he rushed towards the clearing only miles away now. He had been gone at least two weeks in order for his father to get everything into order and he was anxious to find Sonya to complain.
"My lord, is that not the village you continually return to?" The vassal had managed to keep up with him this time, eyes wide with surprise clearly written across his face. Picking up the pace, Sesshomaru reached the top of the hill where the lesser demon stood and stared down at the burning village with shock and dismay. 'Sonya...'
Without another thought, he took off towards the burning huts, only one name in his mind as he searched. His nose burning with the scent of fire and smoke while he made his way towards the hut she lived in with her family, his shoulder bringing the burning door down as he burst inside only to be met by an empty room.
'Damn, where is she?' He growled to himself, ignoring the cries of others as he raced past to reach the meadow everyone seemed to be running for. "Sonya!" He finally burst out in frustration, his amber eyes scanning over the surprised crowd of people that took in the appearance of the demon standing there, soot on his clothes and hands clenched at his sides. "Where is she?"
"Over... Over here my Lord." A soft, feminine voice called him to the side of the crowd, not even seeing how they parted in front of him so he could reach a young girl kneeling down beside a larger form laying on the grass. The girl turned a tear stained face up to him and stood up, stumbling slightly as she moved away to make room for him, allowing Sesshomaru to kneel down next to Sonya, amber eyes taking in the severe burns that littered her arms and face, black soot stained her skin and blue eyes still carried the fire of her very soul.
"Ah... Lord Sesshomaru. I wondered when ye would return. I found the letter ye left..." She uttered hoarsely, a hand reaching into the fold of her kimono to draw out a folded piece of parchment with a weak smile. "I wish I could say I accept. But as ye can see, I will not make the journey back." Sonya laughed weakly, her hand still clutching his letter tightly in one hand, the other reaching forward to boldly grasp his.
"I believe these past months were a blessing, Lord Sesshomaru. I thank ye for the friendship ye unwittingly created with someone like myself." Her dry, cracked voice made Sesshomaru swallow reflexively. "You will be fine. I will have a healer look at your burns..."
"Iie, I wouldn't live with the herbs or not. Ye know this as well. It would be best to save the herbs and energy on someone who has a chance of surviving, hai?" A dry cough wracked her frame, making him clutch her hand tighter without realizing it. "Ye will see me again. Don't think ye won't, Lord Sesshomaru. And do ye know what?"
Gritting his teeth, he ignored the faint pain in his jaw from the force as he shook his head slightly at her question, unable to speak without wanting to shout at her. "I like fancied ye desired me that first day we met again." She whispered, the familiar twinkle of mischief in her eyes as she looked up at him. "The look in those burning eyes... Many a dream plagued me after that day... Sesshomaru."
With a final smile, her blue eyes dimmed suddenly, her hand going slack in his, making Sesshomaru's eyes widen in surprise. Reaching forward with his other hand, he felt at her neck for a pulse, ignoring the faint sounds of distress from the crowd of friends and family that had gathered while she spoke with him. He refused to believe it was her final words. She was always there, every day he showed up, she was sitting right there beside the lake with that same smile on her face. Why would she leave him now?
Feeling no pulse, he couldn't even hear her heartbeat along with the fact that her skin continued to grow colder with each passing second made Sesshomaru drop his head down, eyes closed tightly against the unwelcome sadness that washed over him. How could one human woman effect him so much? She was human for kami's sake! Shaking slightly, he let her hand go and carefully crossed them over her chest. Looking down at her face once more, he closed her eyes and after a moment's hesitation, he leaned forward to brush his lips across her forehead in goodbye.
Without a single word to anyone, he stood and turned to leave, ignoring the looks, ignoring the burning village, ignoring the lesser demon that scurried along behind him. He didn't want to think anymore, he didn't want to remember her face, voice, or scent.
As he walked over the hill he had just been standing on only minutes before, the faint scent of apple blossoms and pine reached his nose before vanishing completely.