A/N: I was actually going to have it up earlier today, but work came a calling. Finally, the last update. I think one of the reason why it took me so long to get to this update is the fact that I really didn't want it to end. This is my first completed, novel length fic. I plan on rewriting this as an original and try to get it published. There is going to be a side story for DGL called Eternity. For more information on it or any future fics just go to my bio or my LJ which you can get to by clicking on the homepage.
Question: is 24 pages too long for an Epilogue?
Death, Greed, & Love
"Your Majesty?" Coming from Hephastis the title sounded twisted, mocking.
Inuyasha didn't even bother to dignify the High General with a response or even a look. He continued to tap his claws against his desk, glaring at the small stack of papers in front of him. Maybe if he glared harder the papers would erupt into flames...
If the hanyou had deigned to give Hephastis even the briefest of glances he would have noticed the way the man's lips twitched up into a ghost of a smile. It wasn't the first time that Hephastis found himself grateful for losing the Tournament Finals. (He was successful in blocking the memory of his spectacular defeat.) In fact it seemed that, lately, he was finding himself grateful for a lot of things turning out the way they were.
No one could have predicted that the High General would have ended up being one of Inuyasha's most trusted aides or a prominent member of the king's Inner Circle. Of course, this tidbit was known to very few. With the exceptions of the obvious choices of Miroku, Kikyou, and Houjo none of Veshrane's nobility knew who acted as Inuyasha's eyes and ears to the latest of court intrigue.
All those close to the king had been surprised at the news. Kagome had been almost worried. She hadn't been kidding, that one time last year, when she had told Inuyasha that Hephastis was as bad as Naraku.
The High General was cunning like the former king. He was ruthless; he showed little mercy—if any—to his enemies. This was what Kagome had seen and heard from Court gossip and the news that had come with Hephastis' many campaigns when her father had been alive. However, Inuyasha was able to see things that his wife couldn't because of the traditional role that the Queen played.
Yes, Hephastis was cunning and he could be ruthless at times, but Inuyasha quickly discovered that he was, if nothing else, loyal. He served the people first and foremost, and if his sovereign acted in a way that took the peoples' welfare into consideration then he would serve the king to the best of his ability.
It had surprised Inuyasha to discover that Hephastis had approved of him as a potential king. It was the only reason he had been allowed to participate in the Tournament. The High General had known how the Tournament would end. He had faced youkai vengeful over a mate's death in the battlefield many a time and had barely escaped alive. That brand of rage was deadly. The reason the human had entered himself into the Tournament had nothing to do with the throne. They were personal reasons that had nothing to do with the new king and his mate. Yet, somehow all the fights leading up to the final battle had done wonders in making him forget why he had entered the tournament in the first place.
Actually most of the things about Hephastis surprised him, especially how close the High General was with his sister.
His sister actually came in on a regular basis to see Aya. The woman had been seen in the castle many times and all had thought her to be a little slow. The truth of the matter was that the plump, fair-haired woman had escaped from a marriage so horrible that the beatings her husband had inflicted upon her had caused permanent brain damage. Aya did what she could to improve it, and the girl was now at the point that she could be trusted to be left alone without the assistance of a maid for long periods of time.
The girl really was in a pitiable condition and it pulled at the heart strings of many to see her child-like innocence and the tender way that her "Hep-ay-chan" treated her.
After what Kagome had told him about the rumor that the lord was homosexual and hated women it had come as a shock. Apparently it wasn't that Hephastis hated women, he just didn't trust most of them.
"What do you want?" The hanyou finally managed to growl out when the stack of papers refused to whither under the force of his glare.
Hephastis may have developed a grudging respect for his king and queen, and he may have been one of the few nobles that Inuyasha could bring himself to say that he trusted, but that didn't mean that they had an easy relationship.
Hephastis grudgingly followed Inuyasha's orders, though he would never disobey them, and took great pleasure in revealing the more distasteful aspects of court gossip. In short, both Inuyasha and Hephastis respected each other to an extent, but that was it. Any sense of friendship or comradely was the result of the necessities of the Court.
"I think you should know that the Governor of Shikon is causing problems again."
"What type of problems?" Honestly, that governor was starting to be a real pain in the ass.
This meant raised taxes above the normal rates and gambling. Maybe even some illegal imports. Inuyasha carefully massaged his temples. The man was exceptionally stupid. Maybe he was dropped on his head as a baby. Those where the only reasons Inuyasha could think of to explain the governor's actions. After all, what moron would cause problems in the city where the royal family dwelled?
"Miroku will handle it. Is that all?"
"Yes." Hephastis gave a mocking bow and turned to leave. The General never used any formalities and, frankly, Inuyasha didn't care. With the exception of when the court was assembled, Miroku was the same way and it was how the hanyou preferred things. Inuyasha looked up when he heard Hephastis pause at the door.
"There is a rumor..."
Inuyasha dipped his pen in the inkwell and went back to the documents he needed to tackle before his day could be over. That was one annoying thing about the High General. Whenever he was reporting on the actions of the Court he had annoying tendency to use dramatic pauses. The king had learned quickly not to wait with baited breath during these reports. He was halfway through reading the document (chaos had risen on the southern border again) and drawing up the solutions to the crisis when Hephastis spoke again.
"It would be wise to put some of those documents aside for tomorrow. Maybe the houshi could deal with the urgent ones." That was a moot point. They were always urgent. "Spend some time with the Queen. The Guard is on alert."
Inuyasha's hand stilled in the middle of the orders he had been writing. Something dark burned in his blood, something primitive.
It wasn't a joke when others said that Veshrane royals had the highest mortality rate of any country. The Higurashi line proved it as fact.
It was a trend that would stop.
Kagome chewed her bottom lip as she watched the sun go down. How was she going to tell him?
She'd known for some time that he was suspicious about her health. How could he not when she had developed these strange eating habits? Why was it that some nights she had to have a chili cake frosted with prune icing and drizzled with strawberries and honey and other nights she could barely keep down a light broth?
Ugh. Now just the thought of chili cake made her already sensitive stomach clench. It hadn't stopped her from devouring nearly the entire cake last night.
Both Aya and Asami had been urging her to tell Inuyasha for the past week. Aya had even threatened to tell the hanyou king if she didn't by the next moon.
That was the reason why she was where she was at the moment. How was she going to prepare herself for his possible reactions? If she thought about it Kagome would find herself feeling rather light headed.
Aya and Asami, and even Kikyou, felt that Inuyasha needed to know before news of her pregnancy leaked out into the court. Although the scandal that had arisen when she had returned from the Rebel encampment a woman that had lain with a man other then her husband had been tempered and was no longer of any real concern it would only take the rumor of Inuyasha not being aware of her current pregnancy to cause it to be brought back to the surface. If that ever happened then her life outside of the royal chambers would be an absolute hell. Possibly even worse then what her marriage had been.
It would kill her if a rumor reached Inuyasha that someone else was believed to have fathered the child that was currently inside of her.
It didn't matter if he would know by her scent, and that he trusted that she would never even think lying with another man. She never wanted the seed of doubt to lay roots in her husband, no matter how brief. Still…
That didn't make her task any easier.
"How am I going to tell Inuyasha that I'm pregnant? Does he want a child yet?" The dark-haired queen had hopped that his youkai senses would allow Inuyasha to know when she was with child. Asami had quite pointedly told her that things would never be that easy, especially with relationships concerning youkai.
"Kagome-chan, if that was the case it certainly would have made my relationship with Fluffy a lot easier. The fact that they can scent some of our emotions doesn't always make things easier. Sometimes I think it only adds to the trouble. After I got pregnant I started worrying over stupid stuff. I'm sure you've heard plenty of stories on how emotional human women get when they're with child, woman of youkai blood are no exception. I started worrying about whether or not he would still love me when my stomach got bigger. Well, when Fluffy was able to sense my worry he mistook it for something else. He thought something was wrong with the baby. As a result his fussing got a lot worse."
"Sesshoumaru fussed over you?"
"You better believe it. Given your history and the marriage with Naraku I think Inuyasha will be a lot worse. I don't envy you."
Somehow, that knowledge wasn't comforting.
"How long was it before he knew you were pregnant?"
"You mean before I told him? He didn't. I don't know if this is a curse or a blessing, but male youkai can not sense the fetus in the early stages of the pregnancy. So you have no choice but to tell him yourself if you want to avoid the gossip."
"But what if Inuyasha doesn't want a baby yet? What will I do if it is just an inconvenience now?"
Asami had just given her one of her smiles, the type of smiles that told the Queen that she wouldn't get an answer to her question. She had just patted her shoulder reassuringly and told her not to worry so much. What happened would happen. She just needed to have faith in Inuyasha.
There was a soft click as the door to their chambers closed, but Kagome was oblivious to the slight noise.
She did trust him; she loved him so much his absence was like a physical ache at times. It had really hurt when he had returned to the Territories with the rest of the Rebels without saying goodbye. Still, the talks with Asami and Miroku and helped her see through his stupidity, to see how his logic worked.
Besides, whenever he was around he would do all the little things he could to make her smile. Those little things made up for the pain, and if they didn't then he would make up for their short fall at night.
It really wasn't about the lovemaking. Just being able to rest her head against his chest with his arms wrapped around her and know that she safe while he was near was more then enough.
She didn't want to lose that. She never wanted him to distance himself from her.
She had to tell him if she was going to keep him. Kagome rested her forehead against the glass and sighed. She would do it. Tonight she would tell him the news, when he came back to their rooms and settled into something more comforting then the stiff robes he wore everyday, she would tell him.
The Queen closed her eyes and concentrated on the coolness of the glass doors that lead to their balcony. Although she knew she shouldn't of, she couldn't help but play out the different possibilities as the minutes slowly ticked by. It would be few more hours before Inuyasha would return from his study.
A silent presence padded towards the queen, and still she remained oblivious.
Kagome was only starting to turn when the presence was inches from her. Before she could turn to face the figure an arm snaked out and wrapped around her waist. She tried to twist away from the stranger's grip, alarm surging through every fiber in her body. It was only when she caught the briefest glimpse of silver hair in the faint twilight that brought a rush of relief that robbed her of her strength.
The raven haired woman was about to open her mouth to ask her husband what he was doing back so early, but found herself only able to gasp at the sensation of claws trailing along her stomach before she was abruptly pulled against a firm body.
"Inu—" The mouth descending onto her bare shoulder turned the sound of his name into a squeak. If she hadn't been so nervous the squeak would have turned into a moan. As it was it smoothed into a whimper when his tongue started caressing her skin.
Her knees felt very weak both with the recent wave of relief and the sensations. Kagome had to struggle to grasp his braid so that she could jerk his head back. Why was he holding her tightly, she wondered as Inuyasha brought his other arm across her chest. Her legs promptly lost all strength when his lips, tongue, and fangs attacked her now sensitized skin with an almost desperate fervor. If it wasn't for him supporting her then she would have been in a crumpled heap on the floor. Again she wondered at the way he held her. It was almost as if he was clinging to her.
Was something wrong?
The possibility that something was wrong, maybe even horribly so, brought clarity to her muddled her mind.
"Inuyasha?" Good, her voice sounded somewhat even.
Her hanyou only tightened his arms in response.
She was starting to have a little trouble breathing. Her mind drifted back to a rumor she had heard from Yura through Aya. A new branch of Skull Assassins were emerging. They paraded around as pirates and used their skulls to create illusions of the loved ones of their victims.
"Can't breathe." Somehow she managed to think past her fear and try to determine that the man nearly choking was indeed her husband.
There was a grunt and she was suddenly was able to get air down her lungs once more. Kagome reached up to stroke the fuzzy triangles perched atop her mate's head. She knew what this was now. Fool, she scolded herself.
This wasn't the first time that he had surprised her in such a manner. Asami had laughed at Kagome when she first told the mer-hanyou how frightingly passionate their first night after his crowning had been,
"It's their nature; Kagome-chan. Inuyasha is, after all, his father's son. Before I mated with Sesshoumaru his mother warned me that any son of Inutaishou would be fiercely protective. If they think, if even for a moment, that their mate or pups are in danger then they will react violently."
"Inuyasha would never hurt me."
"Did I ever say he would? The likely hood of Inuyasha hurting you is about as likely as Fluffy hurting me—it will never happen. It's just a warning; if he scares you don't hold it against him. After all, considering everything that has happened Inuyasha is just afraid of losing you. It's actually quite endearing when you really think about it. I know some of the women with human mates in the Territories are jealous on how protective Fluffy can get."
"I've always wanted to know…why do you call him Fluffy?"
Inuyasha responded to the strokes of her fingers against the soft fur of his ears by burying his nose at the juncture of her throat. The arms around her were still tight, but at least Kagome was no longer scared. If anything she was starting to get that warm, fuzzy feeling in the pit of her stomach that came whenever she felt safe in his arms. She was completely oblivious to the tension that seized his muscles. He was whispering something against her skin, something that she couldn't quite catch.
"No one will hurt of either of you this time." The words became audible as he shifted away from her skin so that she could see his amber eyes.
"Inuyasha?" Her heart had skipped a beat at his words. Did that mean he knew? Did he not mind? Her mate's eyes slid just past her face and suddenly the young woman found herself being hauled away from the window.
There was a loud crash as the glass and wooden frame splintered inwards. Kagome didn't even have the chance to register what had happened when Inuyasha was pushing her behind him, while carefully backing to a nearby corner, a growl ripped from his throat when a dark figure jumped through the empty space where the window had been. The glass crunched under booted feet as the stranger observed the room.
Despite the shadows that stretched across the room due to the faded sunlight and the lack of lit candles, the couple could see the way the stocky figure smirked, white teeth showing. He stepped forward, drawing a broadsword from the sheath on his back.
"Kagome…koi…" Inuyasha kept his voice low and his eyes trained on the assassin as he spoke to his mate. Her fingers were curled around the material of his tunic and he could he feel the fine tremors that seized her body as the realization of what was happening dawned. "I need you to get back as far as you can."
"Just get back, koi. I'll protect you."
The assassin seemed to be waiting for their whispered interactions to cease.
"And here I thought I would be able to kill the Queen and leave her body for you to find, but," He smiled cruelly as he walked towards them. "I think this is much better."
"I agree, Shyto." Like a whisper on a wind a second assassin appeared. It disturbed Inuyasha that this one didn't make any sound, even when he stepped on the shards glass. Wickedly curved daggers were strapped to his arms and thighs. Out of the corner of his eye, the hanyou noticed a third assassin—this one female—step on the sill of the window while the others made their way towards him and Kagome.
This third assassin, Inuyasha noticed with trepidation, was dressed in traditional clothing of Kashante's shadow warriors and looked disturbingly familiar. Her ruby eyes glittered as she surveyed the room, but it was the polished bone of a skull that unnerved Inuyasha.
Crap, a Skull Assassin.
Kei better show up before she decides to move. I won't be able to protect Kagome if they attack all at once.
The second assassin removed his daggers, twirling them as his lips lifted into a sadistic smirk. Shyto moved forward stopping a few feet before the couple, sliding into an attack stance.
"Tell me, hanyou. Is it true? Is your Queen as faithless as she is beautiful?"
Inuyasha's eyes narrowed into amber slits.
"I will kill you for that." Tessaiga was unsheathed with one swift movement. In tune with his youki and the rage it pulsed with, the sword morphed into the large fang of its namesake.
"Oh? You do not like to hear the truth? Everyone knows about it. What did Lord Lasae say that the Court was calling her Glasye?"
The assassin with the dagger traced the edge of his daggers with his tongue. Another wicked smile graced his lips, showing his yellowed teeth.
"I believe it was the Higurashi Whore."
There was a sharp intake of breath from behind the hanyou king, as his mate opened her mouth, an indignant rebuke forming. It died just as quickly when the two assassins started towards them.
This was the first time someone had tried to kill her. Kagome had been threatened, of course, on the day Naraku died. The pain had been nearly overwhelming, but it had given her something to concentrate on. She had been able to fight against the sensation of wanting to pass out and give in to the darkness that had threatened to consume her that day, but she hadn't been aware of the danger she had been in until she was safe in Inuyasha's arms. Now, the only protection she had was right in front of her and that was it. She could make out the distant shouting of the Guard, but they were too far away and most likely busy with a fourth assassin, a distraction.
"Now what?" Inuyasha growled. "Are all three of you going to attack me at once?"
Shyto jerked back, almost rising from his attack stance. Glasye seemed to take no notice of the hanyou's words. He only took his eyes off of his target when he noticed his comrade's reaction.
"What the hell are you talking about, three? Glasye and I are the only ones who will kill you. There is no one—"
"The kingie is talking about me, boyos." The Skull Assassin's voice was tart and amused. A smirk tugged at her ruby lips when the two men whirled around to face her. "What? Surprised? I don't see why. Do you have any idea how long I've been listening to you two perverts?"
The royal couple was momentarily forgotten as the two male assassins sputtered, their faces turning an interesting shade of purple.
"Perverts?! Who are you to call us that?"
"The one who was following you all the way to this castle. Only perverts share a whore right before an assignation, only perverts intend to kill in a prolonged manner. Only perverts," her lips drew down in a scowl. "Take pleasure in death."
"Does that mean Miroku is an assassin as well, Yura?"
Yura turned ruby eyes to the king. Although she seemed disgusted with her target, there was amusement in her eye when she faced Inuyasha.
"The houshi is a special case. You know, I was wondering how long it would take you to recognize me, Yasha-kun."
"Don't call me that."
"Hai, hai, whatever you say." She turned her head towards Inuyasha and Kagome, giving them her full attention. "Good evening, Kagome-sama. I don't believe we've ever been introduced. My name is Yura. I am glad to see you are doing well."
Glasye's grip on his dagger went limp as this new woman's actions indicated her complete dismissal of then. Not only had she insulted them, but she was now disregarding them as a threat. The nerve of that bitch!
Yura took note of the looks of shock, the corner of her mouth curled slightly in a tiny smirk. This was going to be fun. It's too bad she wouldn't have the time to play with them properly. Her time spent as a serving girl in a capital tavern had left her with the need to severely punish any perverts, molesters, and rapists. Miroku was a special case and that was only because he wasn't much of a threat to any woman, especially if Sango was around. Besides his methods of perversion never crossed the line. A lech he may be, but he was a gentlemanly lech.
"I think it would be wise, Inuyasha, if you and Kagome-sama left. I am going to have to do some unpleasant things that no lady should witness."
Inuyasha's amber eyes narrowed in understanding. He sheathed Tessaiga, and turned around and scooped Kagome in his arms, even before she could utter so much as protest.
Shyto, his cheeks flushed purple with rage, shifted as if to move.
"Don't." The hardness in Yura's voice stilled the assassin with the same effect as if a whip had slapped the floor near them. "Hurry, Inuyasha, and leave." The pleasantness in her tone has been replaced with the cold and hard tone of a seasoned assassin.
Inuyasha was already halfway towards the door, holding his mate tightly in his arms. There was a tension in the air that Kagome didn't like, a tension that she didn't understand. Seeking some form of comfort she took what little she could by latching her fingers onto Inuyasha's silk tunic. It wasn't until her hanyou spoke to Yura again that she looked up at his face, her brow raised in curiosity.
"Find out who else is of the same mind as Lord Lasae. I will want to question him in the morning."
Kagome shivered. Even she knew what Inuyasha meant by that.
"I will take care of that." The Skull Assassin pulled a crimson comb out from her tunic. She smiled at the would be assassins and tapped the comb's teeth with the forehead of the skull in her hand. Immediately a tingling sensation assaulted her fingers and she ran the comb through the thick, golden strands of hair that suddenly sprouted from the skull. The more she pulled her comb through the strands, the longer they grew. She didn't stop until the gold hair reached her knees. Yura's ruby eyes rose to meet those of the assassins, smirking at the fear evident. Good, they may have been perverts but at least they weren't complete fools.
"Yes, Yasha-kun?" She didn't so much as glance at him.
"Try not to leave a mess."
Yura sniffed at the insult. As long as she was being paid good for her work she never left any mess. The remains were easy enough to incinerate without harming anything nearby. Besides Sesshoumaru was paying her very good money until all of the nobility who were stupid enough to set up assignations were weeded out of the court.
The door leading to the hall clicked shut.
"Now then," her fingers curled around the skull in her hand and she smiled at the assassins. "Lets get started, shall we?"
"Inuyasha, what's going to happen to those men?" Kagome's face was pressed against his chest causing her voice to be muffled.
The silver-haired hanyou couldn't bring himself to respond.
"I hope I don't have nightmare like I did the last time." Inuyasha was unsure as to whether or not she was referring to the day she had discovered her father's decapitated head or the battle. "What will you do with Lasae?"
"Don't worry about that." His voice was gruffer then he had intended. His ears twitched to the faint whimpers of pain that he could hear coming from their chambers. "Leave that to me and Hephastis."
"That's what worries me."
"I don't want you to kill him, Inuyasha." From her voice alone, the hanyou could tell that she was near tears. "That's something…that's something Naraku would do."
Inuyasha stilled at her words. The grip he had on her lithe body was firm and tightened when she wrapped her arms around his neck, tears scalded his skin as she cried into his shoulder. It was only then that he was aware of how much she was shaking.
"I'm becoming like Naraku…"
"Sometimes I think that. I know I don't really understand much about Court politics. My parents tried to teach me the basics when I was child, but I never paid much attention." Her voice was still shaky from her sobs, but it steadied as she recalled her family. "I always preferred to play with Kei and Kikyou." Kagome's lips curled against Inuyasha's skin at the memory. "When I finally grew up enough to care, Mama had died my Father was too busy grieving and running the kingdom to help me learn. Kei probably would have helped, but at that time he had started his training as a swordsman and been apprenticed as a squire to the previous captain of the Guard. When he wasn't learning swords and strategies he was helping the Inner Guard investigate my mother's death. Kikyou wasn't born into this life so she couldn't help me. She tried, but I think it gave her a headache."
Inuyasha's amber eyes flicked up at the sound of a slight scuffle from further down the hall. He watched for a moment, as Kei wrestled a man dressed in dark clothing to the floor—the third assassin and the distraction for the Guard. He glanced back down at Kagome when she gave a sigh and shifted her head so that it could rest comfortably on his chest. This was the first time she had talked so much about her parents and Court politics. Generally, it was one of the few subjects that she avoided.
The dark haired queen let out a heavy sigh and lifted her head away from his shoulder to rest it against his chest.
"Inuyasha, just promise me," Using the tip of her finger she traced the golden embroidery on his tunic. "Promise me that you won't turn out like Naraku. That you won't torture and kill someone just because they threaten you. I want you to talk to me about what's going on in the kingdom. Help me understand if you can. Just don't keep me in the dark."
"I can't make I promise like that, koishi. I don't like making promises I can't keep."
"I can't promise you what you want me to promise but," He brushed his lips against the soft strands of her hair. "I don't care who threatens me. It's when the threaten you that I want to hurt them. I can't promise to stop from hurting them. It a part of my heritage that demands I act as I do. It is something you will need to learn to accept. I won't kill them that I can promise." Inuyasha paused, glancing back at the Inner Guard who were binding the assassin. Kei looked up, surprise reflecting in his eyes at the sight of his king and queen standing in the halls. He didn't have much longer to tell her what he needed to before others intruded on them. His sensitive ears picked up a rustle of frenzied noise coming from the miko's room, and he knew that she would be joining them shortly. "I love you, Kagome. No matter what, I want you to always remember that. If you want me to talk to you more about things that concern the kingdom then I will be more then happy to do it. As for understanding the political side of the Court…you know I have no patience with that sort of thing. I can hardly stand to deal with the idiots I am forced to deal with on a regular basis. Some of the stuff I want to forget about when I spend time with you."
"You sacrificed a lot to be with me, didn't you? Aya told me once that you would have lead a quiet life in Keshante if it wasn't for me. You wouldn't have to deal with—"
"The morons I deal with now? Don't worry about it. I might not have been a political figurehead if we hadn't met, but I still would have had to deal with the same type of nobles." Mentally, the hanyou was cursing the healer for telling his wife such a thing. "Still if you want to learn so much about politics I think Yura many know someone who can help. My brother has several spies that take an active part in his Court. One of them could teach you enough so that you can understand how things work better, if that is what you want."
"Don't worry koishii. Now cheer up. Kikyou is heading our way." Inuyasha's ears flicked back ever so slightly as his sensitive hearing picked up the agonized screams of the men Yura was dealing with. The woman really was the best in her profession. She could easily kill or kidnap any dignitary—and had been doing so for the past ten weeks—without anyone knowing. She was considered exceptional even when one took into consideration the unique abilities of the Skull Assassins. Her skills with the concealment spells that insured she was never disturbed during work were flawless. Even the most skilled mage's or those with the gift of magic sensitivity had difficult detecting them once they were in place. Maybe she would be able to help him locate someone to be Kagome's tutor.
The hanyou nuzzled his mate's hair, a pleased smile curving his lips when he noticed that her scent was no longer saturated with her fear and uncertainties.
Kagome continued to lazily trace patterns with the embroidery on her husband's tunic. She was sure she had surprised Inuyasha tonight. It was something that she was sure he had never known about, but…He should have known.
Maybe that wasn't being exactly fair to her husband, just like her earlier comment on how he was reminding her of Naraku was unfair. Asami had warned her on how fiercely protective Sesshoumaru was and how she should expect no less from her own mate. Kagome let her eyes drift shut, feeling slightly drowsy. The limbs that surrounded her body were so warm and strong she wanted so badly just to drift off to sleep. She wanted to forget what had happened tonight and that she still had to tell Inuyasha that she was pregnant. She got light-headed just thinking about it.
Kagome lifted her head from her husband's chest, jerking into awareness as she once again nearly dozed off, to see Kikyou running towards them, struggling with her gi, a bow in hand. She didn't have to look up at Inuyasha to sense his amusement. In her mind's eyes she could see the way his eyebrow raised in an amused inquiry just as she could see his lips quirking up into a smirk. If it wasn't for the way his chest rumbled, then it was the darkening scowl in the miko's expression that was replacing the worry and fear as she approached the royal couple.
"Are you hurt? What happened?"
"A couple of assassins." Inuyasha answered the miko, a slight smirk still tugging at the corner of his lip. Humor colored his voice.
"Where? Did they get away?" Kikyou's grip tightened around her bow.
"In our rooms. Yura's dealing with them."
The miko stiffened at the king's casual tone. She was the only person that Kagome had confessed her worries about Inuyasha turning into another Naraku, not even Aya was aware of the Queen's fears. She watched Inuyasha through wary eyes as he shifted his hold on Kagome. When her childhood friend had first confided her fears about her husband, Kikyou had been skeptic. There were no words to describe the horror that Naraku had wrecked upon the castle, she had thought nothing could compare; certainly not the hanyou who had killed him, the one who was so possessive and protective over his Queen. Yet, the way he spoke so casually over whatever it was Yura was doing in there…
Maybe she needed to start keeping a better eye on Inuyasha…
Kikyou watched Kei approach, while the other members of the Guard held the third assassin still, pressing his face hard into the marble floor.
"Where are the others? He said there were two more."
"They have been taken care of." The door to the Royal Chambers and out stepped a slightly frazzled looking Yura. "They are waiting for your attention in the southeast dungeon."
Raised eyebrows meet that remark.
"Did you get any information out of them?"
"No more then what Inuyasha-sama was able to obtain, and frankly they were too much trouble. I hate to admit, but those assassins are very skilled. Whoever trained them did a good job. I think it might be in our best interest to hunt down their teacher and do something about him."
"Do you mean kill him?"
"Not if it can be avoided. If their teacher has no political agenda I think it would be wiser to employ his services."
"I will not permit assassins in this kingdom while I wear this crown!" Inuyasha's voice cut through abruptly. Kikyou and Kei looked over at their king in surprise at the anger that his voice held. Kagome smiled a little and continued to trace the embroidery on the fabric of her mate's tunic. Yura smirked.
"I wasn't suggesting such a thing. I was merely implying that we should make use of him. After all one who is skilled in the arts of assassination make for wonderful spies; or have you forgotten that?"
"We could make up a contract, one of magical binds that would prevent him or his pupils from killing unless it was in self-defense." Kei offered thoughtfully as he mulled over the possibilities.
"First we need to find this man." Inuyasha snorted as he made his way down the hall to the guest rooms that were reserved for Asami and his brother when they came to visit. The stress of the day was finally starting to catch up with him, and he needed to talk to Kagome a few things before they retired for the night. The fact that she had been hiding her pregnancy from him being one of them. "Yura, you will report to me in the morning."
The Skull Assassin raised an eyebrow at the demand but said nothing. She was about to head for the room that the Guard had reserved for her but paused when the miko stepped beside her. An amused smirk curved her lips at the woman's tenseness.
"So you didn't kill them."
Yura kept her face expressionless doing the best she could to hold back the bristling of emotions that came with the accusation.
"Of course, not."
"Why not? It's what you do, isn't it?"
"A Skull Assassin may be what I am, miko," Her voice was cold and her ruby eyes glittered with suppressed anger. "But that does not mean I take joy in what I do."
Kikyou was silent as she watched Yura walk away. She didn't really want to think of the woman's words or the way it reminded her of assumptions that had been about her own occupation when she was growing up.
Kagome wrapped her arm around Inuyasha's waist. Her lashes drifted close, the smile still on her lips, as she snuggled against the warmth of his chest. The clawed hand that went to rest on the slight bump on her stomach had her eyes snapping open and her heart leaping in her chest.
"Why didn't you tell me?" His fingers splayed over her stomach. "Why didn't you tell me that we're going to have a pup?"
Kagome's cheeks flushed to a lovely crimson and she shifted underneath the covers, in an attempt to turn away from her mate. She really had been hoping to avoid this conversation. Inuyasha's growl vibrated deep in his chest as he used his free arm to keep her in place.
"You're not escaping this that easily."
Kagome couldn't help but groan at the hint of humor that colored her mate's voice.
She really hated it when he used that soft tone. It always seemed to carry a hint of hurt and never failed to get her to obey his wishes, even when she knew that it was just an act. Damn him.
"It's just…well…we never talked about it. I didn't know if you wanted children yet." The excuse sounded shallow, even to her ears.
"Baka." Her hanyou's voice was thick with some emotion that she couldn't quite identify.
Warmth pooled in her belly when the hand between them shifted, his claws lightly scraping the skin it had been resting on and he shifted to pull her into a tighter embrace. He tangled her legs with his, and buried his nose into the hollow of her throat as he breathed deep her scent.
"If you only knew." Their was something almost painful in his voice that nearly brought tears to her eyes. It had been a while since she had heard such raw emotion in her hanyou's voice. "If you only knew what happened when I heard…when I heard what that bastard had done to you, that you had been with child…I lost it. I couldn't stand it. I probably would have ruined everything if Sesshoumaru hadn't stopped me…"
Kagome wasn't quite sure on how to respond to such a statement. It brought memories that she didn't want. She had never told anyone, but sometimes shadow pains would come from the fading scars. Trying to push the memories to the back of her mind she concentrated on the warmth and feel of her mate. She pressed closer to him, her eyes slowly drifting shut at the comfort his presence brought. She had just started to doze off when Inuyasha spoke again.
"You do realize that we will have to double the guard once the new chambers have been finished, don't you?"
Inuyasha leaned back a bit so that he could see the confusion in her eyes. He shifted his hand until his claws were combing the silkiness of Kagome's raven hair.
"I wanted to keep it a surprise, but the situation prevents that."
"Situation?" Kagome tried to break free of his hold and the warmth that he offered as her confusion gave way to irritation. She couldn't help the growl of frustration when he refused to budge and only smirked at her attempts. Vaguely, she wondered if this was the attitude that Asami had been warning her about. "Inuyasha, what situation? I'm just pregnant! Beside the assassinations aren't anything…new…" Something about the look in his amber eyes had her softening the protest and even considering giving in. The only sound she could manage was a squeak before Inuyasha crushed her close once again.
"Assassination attempts may have been something that you grew up with, but that doesn't change the fact that they endanger you. Do you know what they would have done to you if Hephastis hadn't warned me in time?" The fine tremors that she could just barely feel were the only thing to allude to his fear.
Kagome opened her mouth to speak, maybe to apologize, she wasn't sure but Inuyasha continued before she could.
"I just want you to be safe and happy, and," He hesitated there and Kagome was fascinated by the blush that spread across his cheeks. "and I think you would be happier if the royal wing was moved." The young queen was only half listening to his words; her eyes were concentrated on his face. It was so rare to see Inuyasha shy and embarrassed. It was rather endearing, actually. "I didn't think you'd be happy spending the rest of the nights in a place…a place where there are bad memories."
Her stormy eyes widened in surprise. It was so rare for Inuyasha to be so thoughtful, or tactful, for that matter. She reached up and wrapped a finger around a lock of silver hair.
"You've given this a lot of thought, haven't you?"
"I just know," Kagome almost giggled at the sudden gruffness in his voice. It was strange how much at ease he could make her feel so quickly. "I know that I wouldn't want to sleep in the same room as where my mother had died…When we went back home, I never entered that room. So, I hated it that you had no choice. "
Kagome laid her palm on top of his, a warm feeling spreading all the way down to her toes at the honesty she heard there. Gently, her hand guided his until they were once again resting on her stomach. Leaning up she kissed his check before snuggling against his body comfortably.
It would be a hard life. The politician in Inuyasha was starting to surface, and he was starting to become a man of the crown, but as long as he was here for her, as long as they could be like this…she would survive. She would be happy.
After all, now, she finally had a husband she loved.
And he loved her. Not the crown.
Final A/N: I've wanted to say this for a long time…fin! That's the end of DGL. I have a one shot side story that I'm working on, but that will be a while. I was also going to do the final page count, but I'll post that in my LJ and in my bio when I get around to it. I know that this story is over 400 pages, it may even be close to 500. (These last two chapters alone were over 50 pages.) I'm not sure which of my inu fics I'm going to work fics. I'm not even sure which of my fanfics (I've decided to dabble in the Ouran fandom) I'll work on next. I've started the original version of DGL and I've also started a new original called Amazonia. Actually if you scroll down a little more I put the prologue on this post. There is one thing I want to reiterate before I close things up. If you ever want to know where I am as far as writing just check my LJ, I'm more likely to update there then my bio FFN. I also have a new Inuyasha fic that I'm posting only there for the time being. It's called The Dancer. It's a sci-fi AU. It's under the tags 'Dancer'. I'm actually doing the same thing for Amazonia as well.
Now I want to take the moment to extend a huge thank you to all of those who have supported me with this story since it started five years ago. I especially want to thank Skittles, Shell-babe, Lilrinfluffchan, and any others who have been with me since this story was first posted. Also, Erin T., you guys and the conversations we had is what helped me finish this fic. You were my inspiration. Thanks a ton! Now here's my new fav story:
The Last Warrior Woman of Lastepo
She had never trusted males. There never had been any reason to. She stuck to and trusted the old teachings. They said that men weren't to be trusted and to be treated with caution. Never show your back to the traitorous male. They will sooner enslave you then treat you as an equal.
These words were Amazonia's bible. Her classes at the Academy were built around the old teachings. Hand written copies of the Scriptures were the required text for the special courses she offered. Even the classes that the Headmistress required she teach, the general requiescats, were full of thinly veiled male hostility.
Maybe it was because of these beliefs that had caused her to be isolated on the island that she was named after. Even the Elders condemned her for her beliefs. Times were changing and she needed to see it. Although many of them still believed in the old scriptures, and those of the younger generations were intrigued by it, none lived by it with such rigidity as Amazonia did.
Still even she had to admit that there was truth to what the Elders said. Things were changing and the tribe needed to adapt. To her it meet to strengthen their defenses, maybe send some over onto the mainland to steal the fancy new technology that was being produced and traded. They couldn't count on the charities of these ambassadors. How did the Elders know that these men wouldn't stab them in the back when they had the chance?
Amazonia had cautioned and warned them. She had prepared petitions that were instantly burned. Her students had stopped coming and she had been banned from the Academy. Her home was vandalized, covered in rotten vegetables and riddled with holes from the stones that children had thrown at it. Still she persisted.
What few friends she had abandoned her, and even when she faced expulsion from the island she had refused to relent.
It was on her last night on the island, while her fellow warriors watched her load her meager possessions into a small wooden boat, that they had striked. It had started as a small rumble of noise, not even Amazonia had thought much of it. They had all attributed it to the celebrations that were a result of both her exile and the graduation of the Academy's seniors. It was only after she had started the rusted old engine and had started to guide the boat through the lagoon that lead to the Great Sea that she hears the screams and saw the fire.
Instinct and training had forced her to take refuge in a half-submerged cavern when she spotted the warship that was bearing down on the island. No sooner had she shut off the engine when the sky filled with the deafening drone of airships. Curious and filled with more then a little dread, Amazonia had abandoned her ship and swam out of her hidden sanctuary. She kept to the shore of the river, mindful to stay in the shadows cast by the silver moon and of the nighttime wildlife. Smoke curled into the air, as the fires ate a wooden path to the river. As she stayed close to the shore, making her way down towards the village, she found it harder to breathe. The smoke tickled her throat and the urge to cough was strong.
The urge to cry was stronger.
It's just the smoke. That's what she told herself when she felt something wet slide down her cheek. The smoke was causing her eyes to water, nothing more. She was not crying.
Screams rent the air. The closer she got to the place she had once called home, the more desperate they became. Something wrenched in her chest when she came across the first body. Strands of golden hair danced on the water, water that had been dyed red by the gaping sword wound in the woman's chest. Amazonia grabbed the shoulders to get a look at the woman's face. She didn't know why she needed to see it. She would know this woman, the island wasn't very big.
Dull, green eyes stared back at her, unblinking. The skin was already starting swell from the water. Amazonia stomach churned and her eyes water, but her mind insisted that it was only the smoke. It was getting thicker, she rationalized, and if she didn't go back the way she came she would suffocate.
She stumbled back nearly tripped over the uneven sand bank. Voice drifted over to her.
"Did you hear that?" The first voice sounded rough, strangled. Obviously they were having as much trouble with the smoke as she was.
"Maybe it came from the river. Go, check it out."
Amazonia gripped the hilt of the dagger she kept strapped to her thigh at all times. She heard in the tone of the second voice what she had missed in the sword. Silently, she slid her favorite blade out of the worn sheath.
"Why should I go check it out?" This one had to be young, there was such a high pitch to his voice. Why else would it have been so difficult for her to identify the rough quality as something more then the smoke.
"Because you're a damn rookie. To young to be here anyway. Go check it."
Still the child protested, mentioning something of lizards and snakes. Maybe giant cats.
"Get to it, boy! Patrol's already been through here. There's nothing here to hurt you."
The first speaker stumbled through the bush and the faint moonlight splashed on his features. As he looked about warily. The boy stank of fear.
Coward. Amazonia watched with contempt as the second speaker slowly came into view. This man was a coward. If the boy stank then this one reeked.
The boy couldn't have been more then fifteen, even though he looked to be twelve. With his mop of russet curls and eyes wide with youth the boy could have easily passed for any of the girls in the village. It made her almost regret what she was about to do.
The smoke reminded her why he was there and suddenly the boy didn't seem so young. In fact, he was at a good age to die.
Silently, the female warrior flicked back the switch that would allow the metal claws that were attached to her gloved, right hand to spring forward when she moved. She pushed the strand of silver hair that obscured her vision behind her ear and slid into her attack position.
Not even the faint ripple of the water alerted them to her presence. She whispered a passage from the Scriptures.
Eye for eye. Blood for blood.
By the time they heard her, the river was already stained purple from their blood.
Amazonia pulled the thin blanket that she had packed at the top of her rucksack and wrapped it around her shoulders. There hadn't been much point in searching the island further to search fir anyone who may have gotten away. The girl she had found…Erika had been one of her best students. A bit eccentric, the girl had proclaimed herself a disciple, but had distanced herself from Amazonia when it had been made official that she was banished from the island.
Erika's bloated face flashed through her mind again and that horrible feeling heaved in her chest. Why were her eyes still watery? The smoke wasn't reaching the cave.
The girl had always been rather skittish; she wasn't suited to the rigorous training of a warrior and once she had completed the minimum ten years in the militia she would have retired as a teacher, maybe even teaching the same misandric special classes that she had excelled in. That was all over now…
Amazonia gasped, and took deep breathes to try to calm the feeling that was welling up. Closing her eyes, she tried to picture Erika the way she remembered, not the corpse that became ingrained in her memories.
It really wasn't too much of a surprise that the girl had made it as far as she did. In the battle games that were held on the island, Erika had always been the first to flee. Honestly, being a warrior hadn't suited her nature at all.
Something wet trailed down her cheeks and her vision. Her shoulder shook violently when she finally allowed the sob that had been building in her chest to break free. She gasped, hiccupped, and wailed loudly as the full force of her emotions flooded her. It wasn't fair. It just wasn't fair. Why did this have to happen to them? They never ventured off of their island. They only ventured to the mainland to trade off the furs and skins of the animals that were native only to Amazonia. They never interacted with other people then were necessary. They were good and quiet.
How did these men justify razing their villages to the ground?
Fine tremors shook her body as she contemplated the fate of the women of the island who were still alive. If the rumors of the treatment of female captives were true then a fate worse then death awaited the survivors.
Amazonia knew she should have been quiet, these men were probably still out patrolling—looking for those who had escaped—but she didn't care. Let them come. They would taste the harsh steel of her blades.
She had always known that this would happen, that the men would come and capture them, but she had never wanted to be there to witness it. To witness the destruction and death.
There was no triumph in this victory if she witnessed the destruction it brought.
She felt drained, tired. The silver-haired survivor of the proud Amazon tribe could only pull the blanket closer as she laid her head upon the soft leather of her rucksack and cried. An unknown amount of time later, when the dried tears left her cheeks feeling itchy, the soft sound of the water as it rocked her boat coaxed her into an uneasy sleep filled with golden hair, bloated corpses, blood, fire, and screams.