From a human's perspective the great house carved into the mountain on the northern point of Western Territories was an ancient landmark that served as forgettable scenery when one would journey through on their way to a less hostile country. To Sesshoumaru, however, the castle known as Dragonsbane was still a new home to him… his family only commissioning its construction four-hundred years ago. In his opinion the mountain was an inconvenient location for an Inu Youkai, and made his clan seem like the dirty wolves they ruled over, but this place was his father's pride and joy.
Between the entrance and the western wing of their home the natural mountain side was home to a petrified dragon skeleton, the remnants of a mighty demon his father fought in combat. It clung to the stone open tomb only by a large fang that had once pierced the dragon's chest. His father had almost lost his life in that battle, but instead of seeing that as a sign of weakness he paraded his victory by building a home here and treating his opponent's body as an exterior decoration.
Sesshoumaru hated this place, but yet he planned to call this place home for the rest of his days. It was his father's, and he was his father's heir making this place his by right and he would never abandon it for a lesser demon to use as a dwelling… or a foolish human monarch that could one day spread lies about how they could slay dragons. This place showed weakness, but that didn't mean it couldn't have standards. The day he would receive his inheritance would be the day this place could be taken seriously. No more harems for father's whores, no more human servants (that were probably also his father's whores), and most importantly no more bastard brother lounging around as though he owned the place.
The day these changes would occur were fast approaching, which was why he had returned home from his travels as word had reached him about his father's illness. He hadn't planned on returning until his father was confirmed dead and in the ground, but it had been awhile since he evaluated his prospects and inheritance and needed to make sure everything was on the up and up.
The drawing room is where they would meet to discuss the matter, so to get there he went through the entrance and over the sky bridge, a giant roofed bridge that went from one mountain top to the other… looking over the railing was a sight that would make a lesser demon ill as it was a 5,000 feet drop to the ground. It had been another vanity project, but tossing someone over the edge wouldn't be a bad way to show he wouldn't deal with foolishness when he became Lord of the estate.
On the way there he passed a human maid that hurried along with a sewing box and a pillow with a ripped seam. He paid more attention to that than the actual human though it brought his thoughts back to the sky bridge… in most homes like this the servants would have their own hallways to scamper about like rats in the walls, but no…. his father sacrificed that detail to make a statement about drab mountain living. He would have to give the humans a bit of credit perhaps… this walk wasn't for the feeble or lazy.
"So the prodigal asshole has returned?" his bastard brother's insufferable voice was the first thing he heard after the servant had announced him into the drawing room.
"Quiet yourself pup," he heard his father's voice snapback to bring the half-breed back to heel.
Sesshoumaru looked his father in the eyes. Had this been an elaborate lie to summon him home? His father looked as strong and formidable as ever… if he had been in his armor with a sword at his hilt his brother wouldn't have dared to speak with such disrespect.
Once he confirmed his father wasn't on death's door Sesshoumaru's eyes traveled to the furniture and books of maps to make sure everything was still in order, "Why am I here?"
"Traveling the land in your true form hasn't made you unable to read has it?" his father asked relaxing spreading his arms over the top of the couch, "I'm not long for this world."
"You look fine to me. As long as you have this eyesore to brag about you aren't going anywhere."
"I might not be dying tomorrow or this century, but I won't live forever. You are the heir of this eyesore and I need to make sure it still stands when I'm gone. That is why you are here."
"So you are a liar," Sesshoumaru remarked walking over to a desk and picking up an ornate letter opener, "is this how the Lord of Dragonsbane conducts his affairs?"
"If I must, but it will be the last time I resort to trickery. Until my last breathe and even after you will obey your father and learn your place here."
Sesshoumaru payed attention to his brother for only a moment to scowl in response to the gleeful look at the hanyou's face. He was the heir to the family estate and legacy, and he was being talked down to like incompetent child. It must have been quite entertaining.
"Have I done something to warrant such disrespect father?" Sesshoumaru had asked, "I don't believe I've ever disobeyed an order?"
"No you haven't my son," his father spoke a bit more softer, "perhaps that's why I summoned you back… to set an example. It is your brother that has been a disappointment and I will have no more of it."
That took the gleeful smirk off the hanyou's face… this was a surprise really. How could InuYasha dishonor the family when there was no expectations for him in the first place? He was a bastard and a half-breed, he would inherit no titles or territory, but despite that his father always protected him. He even gave his prized sword to the welp just to give the illusion both his sons had the same value.
"What could he have possibly done?" he was actually curious.
"Not that you care, but I do see value in the human villages that are on our land. To garner good favor with them and show I have their bests interests in mind I set InuYasha up with a chief's daughter to give the family a small position in this household."
Great. Maybe he shouldn't have left for so long since his father seemed so hell bent upon making this great youkai home available for all sorts of low ranking humans to visit and gawk at. Luckily it sounded like this story wasn't going in that direction.
"I only met her once and that was one time too many for me," InuYasha spoke with a disgusted tone, "she looked down at me and talked shit about me to her own family as though I couldn't hear anything."
"You should be honored to be engaged to any female with a title," Sesshoumaru replied swiftly, "it sounds like it's an arrangement that is too good for you honestly."
"The only perk of receiving nothing while you gain everything despite coming out of the same set of balls is I don't have to marry or mate because I'm told," InuYasha simply shrugged in the face of actually having responsibility.
Their father growled again, "So you decided to marry a kitchen maid…. despite being engaged and despite my rule about becoming involved with servants."
"Her name is Kikyo, and she was a housemaid not a kitchen maid."
"Married not mated?" Sesshoumaru questioned, "he could still make a mate of the chief's daughter."
"Do none of you have morals?!" Inutashio roared, "I just want both of my sons, regardless of status, to follow my commands. When I tell YOU to marry to help family relationships I expect you to do it… when I tell YOU to come home I expect you to return without having to lie."
Who was his father to speak of morals? This is what Sesshoumaru wondered right away. His mother was still alive, but lived in exile as she had been sent to live like a Dowager in another one of their estates while he consorted with a human woman who gave birth to his brother. He sired a bastard son, but maintained to have a code when it came to relationships. He didn't believe in having multiple mates, and was now pretending he was above using a servant for pleasure.
"InuYasha's insolence and love life is not a concern to me," he stated, "whether he had married the right woman or not I am sure the human whore is walking the halls of our home as though she owns the place now."
InuYasha growled, but got shut down when Inutashio rose his hand.
"His wife has been sent to a cottage in one of the villages below Dragonsbane. I warned her and the servants that you were returning."
"Seems wise. If humans must serve here I would expect them to be slaves not paid servants. It's beneath this place really."
"Why? It's not like we will be receiving any high ranking guests that share the same opinion as you. Their heads are stuck too far up their asses to make the trip up those stairs into these mountains. When you take over as head of this estate I'm hoping you will see the value in them. During the war the only allies we had were the wolves, all other demons simply gawked as our kin was slayed and we saved this land from ruin. They've all forgotten, but the humans that were saved from the treachery of the dragons have not forgotten. A majority of the young maids and male servants have grown up in these walls, while you were gone, respecting this great house and the freedom we allow their kind in our land. Loyalty is more valuable to us than using purity as a status symbol. I don't have to concern myself from what family they hail from and if they have a desire to stab us in the night."
"Perhaps you have a point," Sesshoumaru was stubborn, but his father had been correct about the bother that was dealing with other demons.
"Also what the hell is a demon going to do with money?" InuYasha interjected, "gold is easy for us to come by…. arrangements to get demons to serve us seems like a dumb waste of time for someone like you."
Sesshoumaru glared at the bastard, "Maybe you should go join your wife in the cottage and leave the running of this estate to the ones who know what they are doing?"
"How about you get that stick out of your ass and promise you won't throw her off the sky bridge for the fun of it so she can return to me?"
"Just keep her out of my sight and you follow by her example."
"Enough," their father stood up, "Sesshoumaru I have asked you to return for the long term. I want you to learn how to tend to the daily needs of the estate and our land and be a reliable replacement in the event I do fall ill or have to settle matters elsewhere."
"Who will protect the borders?"
"The wolves, of course, which is another reason I've called you back. I expect you to not be a fool like your brother and take on a mate. You will mate Lady Ayame."
"I'd rather burn this place down and let InuYasha be heir to the ashes," Sesshoumaru quickly replied.
"This isn't a joke. Lady Ayame was quite forward about the arrangement. She was betrothed to Kouga, who is a the head of a pack that serves themselves instead of us."
"You think the wolves are plotting a rebellion?" Sesshoumaru was now finally invested in his father's words… they hadn't been through a war since the dragons fell.
"Perhaps… even if they weren't this Kouga would probably convince them to. Once I found out I spoke with Lady Ayame myself, and when I reminded her of your prospects she agreed she'd refuse that arrangement if she could be your mate."
"Of course she did, who would pick a life in a cave with dirty wolves over being a Lady in a great house with weak servants to command? Even my own mother doesn't have that privilege."
"If your dear mother resided here not even a peasant human would take you as a mate. I'm sure you have your reservations, but even with your brother we are a clan of only three and we need to secure the wolves to keep the land from falling into chaos… I also hate to think of you inheriting everything without a heir of your own to keep it all in the family."
"I am powerful enough to secure and create my own legacy and status, so I had planned on mating a well bred inu youkai to keep our blood strong."
"Your plans fall when you don't act on them. Other than us there are barely any inu youkai left in the region. I'm sure you got word about how our sadistic cousin's land got sacked and instead of losing with grace or making arrangements to protect his family he set fire to his own estate taking his family out with him."
"I'm aware… I was going to send word to other regions to find a match."
"No you weren't, and send word to who? You have no friends or good relations with anyone. You will prove you aren't a disappointment like your brother and marry Lady Ayame."
"So I can produce a heir of muddled blood?"
"A demon is a demon," InuYasha remarked from the couch, "are you that much of an uptight prick that you talk down to me my whole life because I'm half human and now you turn your nose at the thought of mating out of your bloodline?"
"Relax," their father's tone showed he was tiring with being a peacekeeper, "he will do as he is told InuYasha. I had my servant bring this out of the vault before your arrival. Another nice thing about human servants is they see no value in our trinkets and talismans so I don't have to worry about any of it being stolen."
He opened his hand to reveal a very dark blue gem. Sesshoumaru was quite aware that the item was no sapphire. It was a dissolvable jewel left behind by the dragon's known as a Siren Tear. It was the only form of magic that could permanently transform a being into a completely different creature. There had only been a few of these jewels in existence created thousands of years ago by a powerful kami to transform his favorite human females into demons so they could have a longer lifespan. All one would have to do is envision their perfect mate, drop it a drink, and the one that would drink it would transform to reflect the wish. Race, species, and even gender was no barrier when it came to the jewel's magic.
"I always thought you would have used that on InuYasha's mother," Sesshoumaru noted.
The demon lord shook her head, "She thought it unnatural and enjoyed being human. I informed Ayame of its powers and told her that this marriage would only happen for her if her pack would remain loyal and she became an inu youkai or whatever you desire by consuming the tear. She agreed. This tear will be the last gift I give you before I pass and Dragonsbane is yours."
"Her agreeing alarms me more. Wolves are prideful, so to toss away her identity shows how desperate she is to get her paws on this place."
"Doesn't matter her intentions. I am the head of this family, I have arranged a marriage for you, and you will accept."
Sesshoumaru recalled what his father said at the beginning of this conversation. He was here to set an example… an example that he deserved to run this family while InuYasha was nothing more than unwanted and unruly waste of seed. To complain any further would probably be frivolous as the tear would provide him with what he wanted so he would have no choice but to accept.
"Yes father you may send word to her that I accept."
His father nodded standing up and placing the tear on his desk. "Good. Now then dinner will be served soon and you will probably want to get cleaned up after your journey. Do you need a servant or is Jaken with you?"
"Jaken is probably still wobbling up the steps, but he will be here."
"How does one that short help you take and put your armor and clothes on?"
"He doesn't. Like you father I also make a few sacrifices to fuel loyalty."
"Fine carry on then."
In the servant's hall the maid Sesshoumaru had passed on the sky bridge was quick to work repairing the small pillow that had a slash on top of it. Never before had her needle moved so quickly, though she feared the stitches would be too obvious on such fine silk.
"I don't think there is any saving it," her mother spoke from across the table as she worked in a ledger taking inventory of linens and clothing for the servants, "silk is nice but always vulnerable to demon claws."
"I have to try," she spoke determined as always moving her dark bangs out of her eyes before continuing, "It's from Lord Sesshoumaru's room. InuYasha apparently decided to use that room on his wedding night and left it in an inappropriate state. He seemed to dislike that I dared to clean it up the next day… as though he wanted his Lord brother to know what he did in there."
"Has Lord Sesshoumaru returned?" her mother asked with bit of a worried look, "oh dear. Lord Inutashio warned us, but I didn't think he'd be here so soon."
"I passed him on the Sky Bridge. He looks a lot like his father, and didn't seemed to be pleased to be here."
"Kagome you must not stare. Sesshoumaru isn't as kind and noble as Lord Inutashio. The day he inherits Dragonsbane is the day our kind will be massacred. The other maids were already talking about quitting and moving to the east."
"I've heard he hates humans, but I'm not weak like the others," Kagome rolled her eyes thinking about how everyone was overreacting, "Lord Sesshoumaru won't be inheriting for many more centuries and the only way I would leave this place is if I were dismissed or killed. This is my home."
"This is where you work. Just because you've never gone down those stairs doesn't make this your home. Everything ends eventually. Even Lord Inutashio's reign… though I hope not to live to see it."
"Sesshoumaru could inherit Dragonsbane and cast all us humans out, but the mountains could also crumble beneath our feet as we all fall to our end, or we could all get a plague and die of illness. Anything could happen no sense in worrying about it… this pillow is my only concern at the moment."
"Lord InuYasha really did a number on it I see."
"InuYasha isn't a lord," Kagome looked up and snapped, "he isn't true born he has no titles… even if he makes you call him that."
"Watch yourself young lady. Telling me who is a lord and who isn't and calling this place your home. Last I checked you were a daughter of a maid and a maid yourself… not a member of a great demon house."
Kagome sighed as she did the best she could with the pillow, "Maybe not, but I know what's proper. Being forced to bring Kikyo her tea and change her bed isn't proper. I'd rather risk my life returning Lord Sesshoumaru's inferior pillow."
"So that's what the attitude is about?"
"I don't have an attitude about it, I just have morals on what is right and wrong. Kikyo was one of us, and then the moment InuYasha complained to us about his fiancee she pretty much flung herself at him."
Kagome was aware her mother had discovered that she was a bit bitter about the whole thing. She had been born in this place and raised to be a proper maid. She knew the standards that this estate was suppose to measure up to and she would have never crossed the line like Kikyo did. InuYasha, probably well aware he had no place with his family would often break bread with the servants and talk to them as though they were all friends. He even went as so far to flirt with them once in a great while… probably the days he grew tired of making demands just to see them get carried out so he could feel important. He had even tried to court her at one time despite being aware that she knew and accepted her place in this house.
"Kagome welcome to the real world," her mother was about to give one of her harsh reality speeches, "not everyone is like you and believes they can improve their position through hard work and knowing what to say. Kikyo was a hard worker, but she didn't want to be a maid forever, and with that mindset it would have been foolish to not take advantage of InuYasha's vulnerability. There is that, and it would be foolish to believe she didn't have feelings for him and he for her."
"You are correct Higurashi," came the voice Kagome really didn't want to hear right now, "you hens are so wise, but seem to keep forgetting how well I can hear all of you."
All the maids in the quarters quickly stood at attention as InuYasha entered the room, who as per usual was giving Kagome a look of annoyance and anger.
"InuYasha I-" Kagome tried to find her voice and fight the shock that came with being so foolish.
"Save it Kagome," InuYasha crossed his arms his ears twitching, "you might be a proper maid and always know what to say to cover up your mistakes, but I know you too well. To me you just look and sound like an idiot."
Kagome had to work really hard to not clench her fist in anger at herself and him. Other maids had been overheard by him having such discussions… especially about Kikyo since the whole thing was a scandal, but she would be the one to get a lashing for it. Both her and Kikyo had always been InuYasha's favorite play things for torment, but in the end he chose Kikyo… leaving her to remain his whipping girl with no perks.
"Lord InuYasha I apologize for my daughter's tongue. She often gets ahead of herself," her mother apologized putting her head down.
"Didn't you hear your daughter who knows everything about the world?" InuYasha asked, "I am no Lord, and don't feel the need to put your head down. Your daughter being a total idiot and always making an ass out of herself doesn't bring shame on you. I understand it must've been hard to raise her properly when you've worked for my family so many hours of the day. She is like a wild animal."
Of course her mother didn't stick up for her, and Kagome would have disliked it if she did. These verbal lashings hurt her pride, but bastard or not InuYasha was still a member of the family she loyally served, and could be considered a friend on rare occasions, so she would have to deal with it… even though InuYasha was quite aware this area was for servants to work and discuss whatever they wanted on their breaks. There was never any reason to censor, because there was never any reason for members of the family to come here.
"Yes InuYasha I am a wild animal, but I must get back to work as well as my mother."
"You can get back to work," InuYasha said to her mother, "it looks like you have important work to do… unlike this one who is sewing a pillow Sesshoumaru will never notice is missing."
Her mother nodded and took her ledger elsewhere wanting to get out of the embarrassing situation. This was clearly InuYasha's way of saying he wanted to hash out the issue with Kagome without an audience, and she was sure Kagome could handle herself against him. She always could.
Once all the maids had cleared out InuYasha sat in the chair directly across from Kagome and spoke in a calmer voice, "You're not the only one bitching about my marriage to Kikyo… I got an ear full of it from my father before Sesshoumaru returned. I honestly suffered my brother's company just to hear him get talked down to hoping to relieve some stress. I could use some wine."
Kagome quickly stood up to do her duty, "White or red?"
"Kami will you please stop talking to me like a proper maid. You were a bitch a minute ago and how well you serve me isn't going to change that."
She just remained silent as she poured him a glass of the nearest bottle that was already laying out, "Sorry that I wanted to offer you a choice in what you drank. I'm so stuck up."
"Save me the attitude unless you are comparing two different kind of wines to you and Kikyo… both of you were my friends, but I picked the woman I had more affection for, and since I am your friend I would never insult your integrity by involving you in a scandal… even though what I did is really small scale. Small scale to what is about to happen."
"I just am here to do my duty InuYasha… gossip about your family really is none of my business."
InuYasha took his wine and gripped it a bit angrily, "I would hate to break any delusions you have, but our family isn't the proper ruling class that you believe it's an honor to serve. Honestly I should have married you and taken Kikyo in as a mistress to show you everything you stand for is shit. Every day I watch you wear yourself out for nothing. My father believes he is the savior of the humans in the region and everyone thinks he is the kindest most tolerant demon just because he had a relationship with my human mother when the truth is he doesn't know any of your names despite seeing a handful of you every day. Hell he doesn't even remember Kikyo's name, and Sesshoumaru never asked and already decided she is not to be seen if we both live here together. No one cares Kagome… as long as the beds are made and the house isn't a mess the day we get a visitor it doesn't matter who the ones doing it is."
"You know our names and you care," she interjected.
"Yet I'm the one you were shitting all over. I heard the whole thing. I honestly don't know what you want from me… or if things could ever go back to how they were for you, but at the end of the day I care for you, but I loved Kikyo so I married her. None of it mattered anyway… if it were you I love and I asked you to marry me you would have refused, and that's for the best honestly. Father summoned Sesshoumaru back to run things… now I have to worry about Kikyo's safety. If I knew what was good for me I would move to one of my father's other homes and never interact with my family again."
"If you truly love her then why don't you InuYasha?" Kagome asked looking understandably upset.
It was hard hearing that he didn't have feelings for her the way he had them for Kikyo… he was right though. She wouldn't have accepted if he asked her to marry him. Perhaps it was jealousy, which she always thought was a trait that was beneath her, but she had always been a bit jealous of Kikyo's ability to earn the attention of men and get what she wanted from them.
"My future has nothing to do with Dragonsbane," InuYasha spoke, "once my father dies I will be exiled most likely, but I have my own duty I believe in and that's why I will stay here."
"And what duty could that possibly be?"
"Protecting and watching over you. I owe you that much."
Kagome stood up, "You don't owe me anything InuYasha, and there is no owe! I don't know what you have planned that could possibly put me danger, which I doubt I'm in, because as you reminded me no one knows I exist, but whatever it is will put me in your debt. I just want to do my job and not be involved with any this."
"Sit down. For someone that is so proper and just wants to do her job you seem to forget you are just a human… a woman. You don't have much of a say in the trouble to come so you'll need someone on your side. Grab me another cup."
"Grab your own cup if you are so sick of me wanting to do my job," she rolled her eyes, "it doesn't matter that I'm a human woman InuYasha… everyone has choices presented to them in life, and I choose to stay away from the chaos that is your life and focus on the decision to keep my head down and do what I need to do to make a proper life for myself. You made your choice to disobey your father and marry Kikyo."
InuYasha stood up and went to the cabinet examining the cups, which was odd.
He put a couple of his clawed fingers in the one he grabbed, "Well Kagome are you a good maid? Are these cups clean? With Sesshoumaru returning to Dragonsbane comes Jaken, and he won't have his precious Lord Sesshoumaru drinking from a goblet with a speck of dust or dirt in it."
She crossed her arms, "Those are mugs and they are for the servants. The family drinks from glass, not that you've ever noticed."
"You served me wine from a servant's cup?" InuYasha rose an eyebrow pouring wine into the cup and passing it to her, "you must really be mad at me."
"You called me a wild animal in front of my mother," Kagome retorted, "I don't drink wine."
"Well I might be a bastard cursed with inheriting no lands or titles, but I'm not drinking out of a servant's cup, so you might as well… or you'll have to explain to your mother and the others why someone as high and mighty as you is allowing good wine to go to waste."
"It's not good wine. I'll repeat myself, you called me a wild animal in front of my mother. I wouldn't waste my time finding you a nice vintage."
"Just drink the damn wine Kagome. That is an order… it will calm your nerves."
She sighed taking a drink from the cup. Maybe this wasn't bad wine… it seemed to be quite smooth.
"My nerves are not calm, but entertain me anyway. What danger am I in? Your brother might hate humans, but I doubt he'd set a torch to us. Not while your father lives."
"As long as the staff keeps doing what it's doing and stay out of his way nothing will change. Your family will be safe… all servants will be as long as they aren't noticed or make themselves stand out. Jaken is an imp, he handles Sesshoumaru, and that's really all he needs. His hate of humans isn't enough to make him go out of his way to find demons willing to work for a family they all despise."
"Then why are you staying and why are you worrying me InuYasha?" she asked getting bored with this conversation that was going nowhere.
"Finish your wine," he didn't continue until her lips were pressed back against the cup, "what will get you in danger is that you are an amazing woman. You understand your place, but yet you won't ever do anything to compromise yourself… you also don't let me get away with talking to down to you despite status. You're perfect."
"Perfect for what exactly?"
"You don't have to worry about cleaning Kikyo's sheets. I have bigger plans for you."
"I told you I want no part in your plans InuYasha."
He stood up and just smirked, "It's too late. Don't worry I'll remain by your side to pay my debt on this one. I'll make it up to you, but I'm sure by the end of all of it you'll get what you deserve. Dragonsbane will be belong to you one day, because when I dropped the jewel in your cup I asked that you be the perfect potential mate for your precious Lord Sesshoumaru. Now I'll take that pillow for you. I want to go brag to him about how I ripped it when I was fucking my human wife in his bed."
On the next chapter of Dragonsbane:
The look in his eyes wasn't full of hatred and bloodlust, and to him that just made his response a bit more terrifying for it meant he was going to be more cold and calculated in his counter attack regarding this betrayal.
"Father promised that tear to me," Sesshoumaru spoke with his eyes closed as he sipped his drink in a menacing fashion, "and you used it on that girl, so it's my right to do as I please with her."
"She might still have the heart of a human Sesshoumaru, but she is exactly what you wanted. Her appearance is that of a well-bred Inu-"
"Don't pretend you did this for me," he calmly retorted, "it was a juvenile act of revenge, and when father hears of it you won't see his weak kind side anymore. As I was saying… the girl is mine, and I will do what I want with her… and trust me if you truly cared for her and love your human wife then crossing me is about to become your biggest regret in life."
Author's Notes: So checking my reviews hasn't been a fun activity for me anymore. My new readers that are discovering Marriage of Convenience for the first time are rightfully displeased with it since there is a lot of out of character moments for Kagome and a lot of sexist things, but seeing as how I wrote that fanfic when I was 12-14 years old and had no life experience it's not surprising it turned out that way, so to try and make up for my sins I have tried to take another crack at a Sess/Kag fanfic. I would love to continue my other stories, but I don't see it happening in the forseeable future… I even thought about completely rewriting MOC and Baby Blues since people seemed to like them, but I haven't had the muse for it so decided to start with this tale. I hope all of you like it!