"Usagi-chan!!! I'm going to find you!"
The sing song words were muffled by the dense foliage around her but Kasumi smiled as she heard some rustling from the right, her target getting nervous and trying to think of a way to avoid eminent discovery. The only sounds that could be heard as the bright eyed child quickly made her way through the underbrush was the drone of the cicadas and the occasional bird song. She'd learned long ago how to move silently and it had caused many dishes to be broken as she'd tested it out on her mothr. Even barefoot, branches never broke, leaves barely crinkled and without a scent she was all but invisible to the many different species that called this patch of forest home. Which is why the tiny, nervous piglet really hadn't stood a chance when the green haired girl had suggested hide-and-seek three hours and several turns ago.
"Gottacha!" Kasumi declared as she scooped up the tiny brown pig and held her up to her chest before planting a light kiss on Usagi-chans head. Kasumi could have gone on all day like this. Wondering around the woods, hanging out in trees, chasing after Usagi-chan, she lived for days like this. She sometimes missed the beach. The sand squishing between her toes, the ever present sound of waves crashing and the scent of salt air, but there weren't many places to explore on a beach. Not like in these woods and she loved exploring above all else. She walked in relative silence for a while, sometimes pointing out cool trees or a particular rock formation she though was cool to Usagi-chan, who was dozing off in her arms and not particularly paying much attention until they came to a particularly beautiful waterfall.
"Want to see a cool trick, Usagi-chan?" Kasumi asked looking down at the brown piglet. If Usagi-chan had had the option of responding it would have become quite clear that she was perfectly comfortable right where she was but alas, being a piglet meant more often then not she had to go along with whatever Kasumi wanted to do. It was a good thing she loved the ruby eyed child so much, she thought to herself as she was gently placed on the ground and expected to follow the young girl to the waters edge. Kasumi had waded into the shallows of the pool that gathered at the base of the waterfall and closed her eyes. For a moment everything around the two of them seemed to grow silent, not even the wind seemed to dare move.
And then it happened. Kasumi raised her hands and the water around her followed suit. Soon she found herself floating a good ten feet above where she had previously just been standing, supported only by a sphere of water that surronded her legs. Kasumi waved down at Usagi as the piglet squealed frantically along the bank of the pond, suddenly very glad she was no longer in Kasumi's arms but also very frantic and hoping that the girl would come down now. Kasumi laughed at the panicked expression on Usagi's face and slowly she brought herself back down to the ground right in front of the anxious piglet.
"Cool trick, wasn't it, Usagi-chan?" Kasumi said as she scooped up her small companion and began the long walk back to the house she shared with her mother and Natsu.
The sun was just barely dancing above the horizon when Kasumi finally stumbled out of the woods and up to the back of the house.
"You take one more step inside without cleaning those feet and you'll be cleaning every single tatami mat in this house for the next month, Kasumi. That goes for Usagi-chan too. Both of you walk around to the bathroom right now."
"But my feet aren't even that dirty, ka-san."
"No complaining, just do it," her mother said, staring down at her from the elevated deck of the house. Her mother wasn't a tall woman, but she was intimidating with her teal hair pulled back and a stern look in her eyes. "Or I'm going to have to give Natsu your helping of Oyakodon and-" a wounded gasp escaped Kasumi's lips and she quickly ran around the corner to the house bathroom and pumped some water into a bucket before beginning the work to make her feet presentable. After working through a pretty substantial layer of caked on mud Kasumi moved to clean Usagi-chan up and carefully, so as not to undo all her hard work, Kasumi jumped from stone to stone until she reached the back deck again and hopped up before hurrying into the main room where the table was set for dinner.
"Took you long enough," Natsu said as Kasumi knelt down on the open cushion next to the table. "And shouldn't that thing be outside with the rest of the animals?" she added wrinkling her nose as Usagi-chan nestled up next to Kasumi.
"Only if you go too," Kasumi spit back, sticking her tongue out at the cat demon next to her.
"Girls! If you can't get along neither of you are going to get anything but rice for dinner and I'll get to enjoy all of this wonderful food all by myself," her mother said staring the two young girls down across the dinner table. The two stared hard at one another until Takiko cleared her throat and they both bowed their heads in defeat.
"Thank you girls. Now pass me your bowls and I'll serve you both." And with that the rest of the night went as smoothly as could be expected between the two stubborn demons. Once the two had worn themselves out from bickering Takiko tucked them both in before she went to make sure her front room was ready for any unexpected patients that might show up. As she walked down the hallway back to the room the family used for sleeping she let her feet drag a little, the exhaustion clean on her face now that no one was looking. She pulled the comb out of her hair and let it fall in long teal waves around her face as she yawned, ready to join her two daughters in sleep.
She looked down at the both on them asleep on their futons, their legs and arms sprawled across one another, their faces peaceful as they dreamed and she thanked the gods that fate had brought Natsu to them. Even if Kasumi and Natsu fought more then they got along Takiko knew this was what she had been destined for all along. Healing those who had little hope of getting well and taking in orphans like she'd been once upon a time. It was her way to atone for the past, her past as well as Tsutoru's and all of their family that had passed before their time. And for all the pain and loss that had been wrought for the sake of a few shards of a jewel. She looked over at her daughters once more time, thankful that they would never know that kind of devastation before her eyes slowly shut and she fell into a dreamless sleep.
Authors Notes: This is just a little something I wanted to get written out about the kind of life Takiko and her daughter, Kasumi lead. Takiko is now a healer for a local village, versed in both medical and spiritual healing. They live on the outskirts of town because even though the village has accepted her as a healer they are still worried about other demons showing up unannounced. Kasumi is basically a wild child and spends most of her days outside exploring because if she was inside she'd drive her mother and her patients crazy. Usagi-chan is Kasumi's pet piglet who loves the hybrid demon girl with her whole little big heart and follows her everywhere. Natsu is the first of many orphaned demons that stay with the pair until the grow old enough to take up a profession of their own or go try and find other demons like themselves.
I hope you liked it. More might be coming later on