Epilogue- A Dream Unending
Sesshomaru had never attended a human wedding ceremony before, and he had to admit most of the pomp and circumstance were entirely lost on him. Drinking from three different sake cups in a particular order made absolutely no sense, and frankly he felt ridiculous standing in front of this crowd as he repeated words after the monk Miroku, who was presiding over the union. Every time his cynicism started to flare up, the demon lord took one look at Rin and felt his annoyance melt away; she was dazzling in her white kimono and flowered crown, graceful as a butterfly and lovely as an angel. Even Izayoi- who by now was a healthy and very mobile fifteen months old -could not aggravate him when she managed more than once to struggle free from her father's grip and run around like a wild banshee.
Miroku reminded his listeners of the solemn task that was being undertaken, exhorting the bride and groom to respect one another in all things and never forsake their sacred vows. As the monk explained the importance of staying faithful, Sesshomaru understood a little better why mortals required this ceremony to take place: it brought to mind just how special a marriage was, calling on the nobler side of humanity to rise up and accept the challenge unflinchingly. A final prayer was said and a cheer went up, and the demon lord assumed this meant he was allowed to move freely once again. There was feasting and chattering for an endless stretch afterward, with people Sesshomaru had never even met coming up and bowing and wishing him well (he did not see how accepting greetings from perfect strangers could possibly constitute good luck).
Of course, Kagome was a sobbing happy mess while Inuyasha simply gave some disbelieving shakes of his head; it seemed Sango and Miroku had placed some sort of a bet regarding the event, as the demon slayer elbowed her husband in the gut not too long after the ceremony's close and demanded he "pay up." Even the young fox demon Shippo attended, since he had been a good companion to Rin during her earlier years in the village before his advanced training began to occupy so much of his time. He joked and laughed with the bride as amiably as a devoted brother, and Sesshomaru begrudgingly admitted to himself that he might let the little demon visit now and again if Rin wished it- provided Shippo left his trickster paraphernalia at the front door.
At last the sun set and a chill began to settle over the evening, and it was time to go. Sesshomaru tucked Rin under his right arm and wrapped his mokomoko around her; goodbyes with joyful tears were said (entirely on the part of the women, of course), and before anyone could think of another excuse to detain them longer the demon lord flew up into the twilight. Little was said between him and his new mate as they traveled into the darkening night. Rin kept her arms firmly wound around his waist, watching the stars come out and smiling sweetly whenever their eyes met; now that it was finally quiet, Sesshomaru's mind drifted back to the night he asked this woman to be his mate, as well as the feelings he'd experienced so keenly at the time. With no obstacles left in his path to prevent him from acting on those instincts, Sesshomaru felt a stirring deep inside unlike anything before- he was intrigued and somewhat unsettled at the same time.
Before long they were travelling over a valley full of trees and lakes, bordered in the distance by majestic mountains that would no doubt host the perfect place to watch future sunsets. Tonight, however, Sesshomaru headed to the middle of the valley, where it became evident as they drew closer that a large castle was located. It was not on the same monstrous scale as the palace his mother lived in, as the demon lord thought Rin would likely find such a place too pretentious; this was a comfortable size, with plenty of room for future additions to the family, as well as….
"A garden!" Rin gasped as lights flickered into existence below them. "It's just like the one your mother has."
The castle was surrounded by a wide and sprawling garden on all sides, filled with the lanterns she had admired so much during their visit. Sesshomaru touched down on one of the stone pathways and let Rin wander around to take in her new home. His father had built this place for the human princess Izayoi, filling it was all manner of wonderful flowers and trees for her delight, but they were never able to share it together; now that he better understood his father, the younger demon lord thought it only fitting this should now be his and Rin's home. The palace and grounds had fallen into disrepair from neglect, so Sesshomaru commissioned Jaken to assemble a team of more artistically inclined demons and restore the place to its former glory. Since his trip north had taken so much longer than expected, the group had plenty of time to put everything in order down to the last detail.
As the newlywed couple toured the inside of the castle next, Sesshomaru sensed a nervousness about Rin that grew as they made their way further up. He clasped her hand and squeezed it affectionately, trying to reassure her, but despite her grateful smile he knew her jitters had not subsided. Eventually there was only one room left, but when the door was opened Rin's feet seemed suddenly glued to the floor outside.
"Sesshomaru," she whispered, "I'm scared."
The demon lord brushed her dark hair back tenderly. "I cannot truthfully say I am without reservations myself." He picked the young woman up and cradled her close. "Let me help you."
He carried her inside and pushed the door shut with an elbow. The room was beautifully decorated, lit by the soft glow of more paper lanterns; the bed was an unconventional style Sesshomaru had come across in some of his past travels deep into the continent, bearing more resemblance to an enormous soft pillow than the thin mats everyone else slept on. Personally, he found this design far more comfortable. Rin kept her arms around his neck, carefully watching a place on the wall across from her as if she were unaware of anything else.
"I-I guess you can put me down now," she said after a long silence.
Sesshomaru did as she requested, and they both stood looking at the other's feet for some time. Tenseiga and Bakusaiga were set on the nearest table, and the flower circlet joined them momentarily. Brief glances were exchanged before dropping again to the floor. Sesshomaru contemplated his options for several minutes until a new thought struck him, and suddenly he wondered if he was being selfish.
"Rin…" he began, shifting his gaze to her bowed head. "If what those men did to you still hurts too much, I don't want you to do this."
The blushing bride finally looked up.
"If you're not ready, you can tell me."
The young woman gave him a gaze full of mixed emotions. "It's…it's not like that," she answered shyly. "I do want this: I have for a long time. But now that we're actually here…I don't know where to start."
Sesshomaru cupped her chin in his hands. He could feel her trembling; there was indeed fear in those beautiful eyes, but he also saw the love that had brought them here in the first place, and that was all he needed to know she spoke the truth.
"Then let me take the lead, this first time," he gently responded. "I promise to go slow."
Rin took a deep breath and still looked rather terrified, but she nodded.
"I trust you."
The demon lord moved in to kiss her, but she stopped him at the last second.
"Just…just don't hold back on my account, okay?" She gave a little smile. "No one said slow couldn't be intense, right?"
Sesshomaru returned her smile. "As you wish."
He kissed her, relishing the taste of her lips as they touched his. After several such caresses he felt her arms embrace him, and he knew it was her way of letting him know she was fully surrendering. Sesshomaru kept one hand in her hair and let the other slide down to her waist so he could hold her closer, still kissing her; he paused for a moment then and simply embraced her, breathing in the scent of her hair and rocking her gently from side to side. Then he inclined his head and kissed her cheek, followed by her neck. Rin sighed and Sesshomaru repeated the motion, recalling how sensitive her neck had been that night on the hillside; she responded with a passionate kiss to his mouth, and the demon lord returned the gesture. His fingers instinctively went to work on the knot in her obi, and this time she did not resist him.
Just as he felt the sash go slack his feet bumped against the bed's edge, and with a shift of his weight Sesshomaru sent them both tumbling down. Rin landed on top and kissed him again, fingers woven through his hair, seemingly unaware her kimono was only loosely hanging around her now. They rolled back and forth several times before somehow coming up to a seated position, Rin's legs firmly hooked around her husband's waist. She was in the process of pushing open his kimono in between kisses when something made her pause to look down at what Sesshomaru had already noticed- her robe was merely caught around the elbows by now, covering nothing but her lower arms. Her eyes locked with Sesshomaru's, her natural modesty slightly shaming her even now, and without a word the demon reached down to free her from the clinging sleeves.
"Here," he said quietly, not taking his eyes off her, "I think this is what you were looking for."
He guided her hands to the knot in his own sash and helped her pull it free. Thirty seconds later his kimono joined hers on the floor, and he pulled her down to lay flat against him; the sensations that followed this action were stunning to say the least, and when he rolled over to put Rin on her back she let out an uncontrollable moan. Sesshomaru pressed himself against her, kissing every inch of skin he could reach, his hands running along her body as sensual pleasure kicked into overdrive. Rin gasped every time he found a new pressure point, and he found she could elicit a groan or two from himself when she moved just right. It was a constantly evolving tapestry of discovery as they lost all track of time in one another's arms, awareness heightened to the point of euphoric giddiness yet razor sharp sensitivity. Their naked forms were one, intertwined in an exquisite dance neither could have ever imagined but both were all too happy to perform.
Sesshomaru made love to Rin again and again, his passion only increasing as the night drew on. With no form of distraction present his feelings for her were magnified a hundredfold, and those feelings took him into places he never before thought he might go; his body was filled with a longing ache to somehow express everything she meant to him, driving him to a deeper level still of intensity. This woman had given herself to him for all time to come, and he was not about to accept that gift lightly. They had both endured countless hardships to reach this point, and such patience deserved joyous celebration. As Rin kissed him once again, Sesshomaru wondered if even an immortal lifetime would be long enough for him to show her all the love in his heart.
It was well into the morning by the time Sesshomaru awakened. Sunshine spilled across the wooden floor as the sounds of nature in full swing drifted through the window. The demon lord had never slept so soundly before, and it actually took a few minutes for his mind to fully engage at its usual level of competency. He shifted the blankets slightly and turned to look beside him; Rin still slept, a contented smile on her face and an arm draped across his chest, her fingers curled throughout his hair. Evidently she had grown cold during the night, as she was now clad in his own kimono, despite it being far too big for her. Sesshomaru found the sight amusing and gave a silent chuckle, a movement which registered somewhere in the young woman's unconscious mind and prompted her to open her eyes. She said nothing but merely gazed at her mate with loving devotion, which the demon lord had no doubt mirrored his own expression.
Rin came closer and tucked herself into the crook of his arm, and Sesshomaru massaged her neck with his fingers. They held one another in blissful silence, each thinking their own thoughts, yet also of one mind. Occasionally their eyes met and a fresh smile would appear, followed by a gentle kiss, before returning to their previous state of being; their chests rose and fell in perfect unison, limbs woven in an embrace that made it difficult to know where one began and the other ended. Peace enveloped them on every side, and their hearts were full.
"I love you," Sesshomaru said tenderly as he brushed a strand of Rin's hair behind her ear.
"I love you," Rin answered before leaning in to kiss him.
It was better than the sweetest nectar in all the world. The demon lord fondly traced the girl's chin as she pulled away.
"That will never grow old," he informed her.
Another shared smile. Sesshomaru was certain he had smiled more in the last few hours than he had in his entire existence.
"What shall we do today?" he inquired with a quiet voice.
Rin matched his tone. "It doesn't matter, as long as I'm with you."
"My sentiments exactly," Sesshomaru purred, stroking her soft skin as he drew her into another intimate press of lips.
"Any ideas?" the young woman asked when she had the chance to speak again.
"I promised you I would show you the world," the demon lord replied as he slowly sat up, pulling his wife with him. "Today seems like a good day to start, wouldn't you say?"
Rin grinned. "There is a lot of it to see. We wouldn't want it to get away from us."
Sesshomaru smiled back as he held her hand to his heart. "After all, we only have all of eternity left to live."
He thought about his own words as they dressed, and he felt a warm thrill of joy course through him once again. This sweet and wonderful woman smiling up at him as he brushed her hair, this gentle dove who placed a kiss soft as a flower petal on his cheek, this beautiful soul that broke through the solid ice encasing his heart so long ago with one smile…all of this was only their beginning. He would not lose her to the fate that had plagued her steps since her youth and tried to snatch her away on so many occasions: that monster was defeated at last, its teeth broken and claws shorn off at the roots, never able to rise again now that its prey had ascended so high. What had once seemed an impossible and taunting dream was now an amazing reality.
They stepped out onto the balcony in the shining sun, the rays streaming down from a clear blue sky. A light spring breeze eased past, bearing the scent of cherry blossoms and a hundred other fragrances from the garden below. Sesshomaru pulled Rin close and prepared to take flight, feeling her arms wrap around him in eager anticipation of their coming adventure; he glanced down at her sparkling eyes, noting her childlike charm had not faded with the gift of immortality.
"Are you ready?"
Rin nodded. "I'll always be ready to follow you anywhere."
Sesshomaru smiled, and they rose into the heavens together.
A/N: Well, that's all, folks! I hope you enjoyed it; thanks so much for making it all the way through! This is my very first ever fan fiction, so I hope I didn't break any cardinal rules of the genre. I'd love to know your thoughts- favorite moments, questions, etc. This was a labor of love over the last year and couple months, and I'm really happy I got to share it with you.