Disclaimer: (see first part)
Never let it be said that I don't take my reviewers into account. But if I hadn't actually been somewhat dissatisfied with the end then this would not have come into existence. So more fluff it is!
Kaoru grumbled as she tossed her skirts away and attempted to stand up. No one ever told her that the wedding dress would be pounds and pounds of fabric all contained by a corset and high shoes. She had tried to fight the shoes, since Tokio had insisted upon the dress, but it was ultimately useless. No one would even see them! Why did they have to be nice!?
Now that she was being led to her spot at the end of the aisle and the music was striking up, she didn't know what to do. Was it her wedding day? She was the one in the dress, so it must be. Then again. . . a lot of those people didn't look so friendly to her eyes right now. Pretty much every noble worth a scrap of land or even just a title and a lot of the richer merchants had been invited. Then entire great hall was packed with people, standing room only, and the long strip she'd have to walk seemed almost claustrophobic.
A firm hand took Kaoru by the elbow as she took an unsteady step out there to confront those many eyes.
"You're not going without me, Jouchan." Sano beamed down at Kaoru, a cane in his hand the only reminder of injury left. One of the bones was healing more slowly than the other, so the cane was just a temporary but essential accessory.
Behind Sano were Jiro and then Aoshi (who had lost the draw to determine the marching order when leading Kaoru down the aisle) whose smiles did wonders for her fluttering heart and nauseated stomach. She reached over and squeezed Sano's hand before composing herself as the music struck up.
Why is this hallway so long? Am I going to trip on my dress? I felt it just then and if I tripped. . . no. . . wait. . . Sano will catch me. But then I am pretty heavy, if he didn't and we all went down. . . . oh dear lord why didn't I elope? I never cared about having a big to do like this. Kaoru's thoughts were manic, not that her outward composure betrayed any of that.
Her brain lost itself entirely when Sano let her go and instead of her unfocused stare straight ahead she looked up into Enishi's face, similarly composed, but looking like it was trying to crack judging from the way his eyes were shining and watering a little bit. She realized with some consternation that he was laughing at her. Hell! Stupid dress! Idiotic Enishi! She would have kicked him if it were not for the hundreds of people (thousands?) that were staring at them right now.
Kaoru and Enishi turned to her father. It would be his job to marry them. Tokio stood beside him. Her face was gentle, as if trying to help Kaoru loosen up, because the poor girl looked like she was made of wood right now and utterly petrified. Goro looked just as displeased at most of the crowd.
Few people knew the truth yet even though rumors had run rampant during the past two months of trial and the following month of wedding preparation. What this looked like to most of the rest of the nobility was that Goro was trading over his only daughter to a magician who wanted to kill her in exchanged for peace and his continued rule. Goro let them think what they wanted. If he was seen as a cold bastard and someone to be feared, then maybe that would only help him keep his thumb upon any one else who had bright ideas like the late Lord Himura. Of course, if anyone did try anything, Goro had both a powerful son-in-law as well as the absolute loyalty of the new Lord Himura, Kenshin.
True to the image he still liked to project, Enishi was all in black and looking particularly menacing today. He even had those glasses of his on. Kaoru was deeply envious of his ability not to be ruled by the wishes of others. Everyone was expecting him to be sinister and he clearly enjoyed playing the part. Her feet hurt, how long was her father going to talk?
Oh no, Enishi was looking at her. Was she supposed to say something?
With so much relief she nearly fell into a boneless heap in front of her soon to be husband, Kaoru felt her hand be gently lifted by Enishi and a ring slipped on the finger. She did the same for him according to her father's instructions. There was more to say, and she tried to concentrate on the words, but they had rehearsed this a few times already and so it just had the effect of feeling like the fourth or fifth time she had gotten married. It didn't matter to her that all these other people were here. The important ones had always been present.
Her feet and the throbbing of her toes in these pointy torture devices made her want to jab a spiky heel into whoever had invented them.
Kaoru looked at Enishi, who had that devilish look in his eyes again. She was suddenly aware of the silence around them, and the disapproving looks. With the first real smile she had offered since she had gotten into this dress, Kaoru leaned her face up to receive what she knew was coming.
To the side of the dais, Sano, Jiro, and Aoshi were trying to restrain themselves. The sorcerer was holding their Kaoru a little more closely than necessary. Jiro made his smile stay in place for the sake of appearances, but Sano started to sway as though he was ready to jump up and punch the young man when they all noted in some shock that not only was the kiss not stopping but their mouths had just opened a little bit. . .
Kaoru separated with more than a slight blush when the king softly cleared his throat to get the attention of the couple. Naturally, Enishi didn't look at all sorry for that wanton display. The music started up again, and Kaoru gave a look around to her new parents and to her three beloved guardians before she turned and walked slowly down the aisle with Enishi at her side. The way he clenched his hand tightly and painfully around her arm was the only indication she had that he too had been nervous. Somehow, that admission of weakness made her feel a little better.
The late October sunshine was did little to off set the dry cold. There were canopies up in case of rain, but the day was fair. People filed out of the great hall, where musicians set up for dancing later, to greet the couple personally. After the first fifty, Kaoru wondered if Enishi would snap. He already looked like he was ready to break off the next person's hand he shook. It was a personal touch that the king had insisted with a sadistic smile that Enishi simply had to do to make himself more personable to the people of the kingdom.
Kaoru personally thought that Goro had just told him to do it because he knew Enishi would hate it.
Sano, Jiro, and Aoshi moved up finally. They were going to leave after this, she knew, and report back to their organization to be reassigned to whatever was waiting for them. Jiro had explained to her that for most of that time they had been registered as being 'on leave' and therefore they had a lot of responsibilities that they would have to fulfill that were just waiting for them. Sano had grumbled something about twenty years of paperwork, but Aoshi had glared at him and the tall fairy had quickly quieted.
They first encountered Kaoru. Instead of the polite curtsey that she had been offering the rest of the line, she practically threw herself into Sano's arms and then the other two in turn. The severe looks that had caused most of the other people present to shy away from the powerful magical beings softened under this onslaught of love and satin.
"It's not still too late. You can get out if you want." Sano said it in a stage whisper so that Enishi would hear too. The twitch of an eyebrow as he made small talk with some elderly duchess was the only reaction that registered. Kaoru just laughed.
"You all will have to visit me as much as you can. I mean, I realize that you all have busy lives and all, I'm sure, but," Her throat seemed to thicken as she spoke. "I've never been without you for longer than a week, and even then there was always one of you who stayed with me."
They didn't know what to tell her. It was a sad parting for them as well.
"We'll just have to have a baby soon so that they can come to the christening." Enishi was behind her, and the receiving line was immobile and irritated with the slow pace the couple was setting.
"That is not funny." Aoshi's stern tone made everyone smile.
"Feel free to wait." Jiro looked nervous. Sano simply murmured something under his breath.
The food was being put away and only a few people lingered in the great hall (most of them either too drunk to move or already passed out). Goro and Tokio had retired to their chambers for the night (Tokio had to drag the king away from his daughter towards the end of the evening because he took every opportunity he could to separate Kaoru and Enishi).
Kaoru and Enishi sat on an upper balcony overlooking the hall from the back. Enishi rather unromantically commented on how a sniper with a crossbow could easily take down anyone in the hall from this vantage point. Kaoru brought her heel down on his instep and he yelped.
"Hush. Just enjoy the peace."
Enishi hugged Kaoru with his arms circling around her front and rested his chin on her head after removing the headpiece that still kept her hair swept up.
"You mother gave me the most frightening talk. I think she may be even more intimidating to deal with than your Aoshi."
Content to let him talk, Kaoru just made a soft noise in the back of her throat.
"She asked me if I had any. . . er. . . experience in the bedroom."
"Well do you?" Kaoru's body shook with held in laughter.
"Do you?" he countered in a cranky manner.
"What if I said yes?"
"Then I'd find him and I'd kill him." The joke was there, but it was underlay with a serious note that made Kaoru a little uncomfortable.
"Then I'll say no. I wouldn't want to have to wait for you to go through another trial. You might actually be found guilty. . ."
By the stiffening of his shoulders, Kaoru knew she had touched on something he was still sensitive about.
"You were pardoned. It's a clean slate. I forgave you. Just stop letting it bother you."
"Did you know that when we were getting congratulated by all those people, a few of them congratulated me and offered their services in practically the same breath. Even after the mess with Himura there are still people desperate and greedy enough to try to get in my favor." He let her go and started to wander away. "And a part of me wants the violence and intrigue. I'm never going to be what you want me to be."
Kaoru spun around and confronted him with her temper out in full force again. She was becoming very easy to read. Now she didn't even attempt to shield what she was feeling from him. It was refreshing and charming even as he felt it was overly trusting.
"And what do you think I wanted you to be, eh?" She threw up her hands and rolled her eyes. "I give up! Fine! You're a horrible person and I hate you. Does that make you feel any better or do you prefer your self pity?"
Her finger jabbed him in the middle of his chest as she spoke, and Enishi couldn't stand it anymore. She was just too cute. Instead of an answer he brushed his fingers over her cheek so lightly that she twitched from the way it tickled. Kaoru's hands moved up and removed his glasses, and then his head bent down to kiss some of the creamy expanse of her throat. When her chest was moving quickly from her rapid exhales, Enishi realized that maybe here was not the best place to spend their wedding night.
"Why don't we get to bed." Statement. Not an invitation or question. She thought about protesting just to be difficult but from the way his skin radiated heat in the cold room and how his eyes were dark and glossy, Kaoru picked up on much of the urgency of the question.
She nodded, but when her hobbling from the shoes proved to slow them too much, Enishi simply picked her up and slung her over his shoulder while she shrieked and pounded him on the back with her fists at the indignity. He swatted her on the rear once playfully to hear another loud burst of fury from his bride and then laughed all the way up to the door of their room.
He hesitated at the door only because some of the weight of the day had hit. The ring on his finger carried new pressures, expectations, hopes, and he gave it a quick glance before he turned the knob and brought the struggling bundle of satin that was his wife into the room. Tomorrow he and Kaoru would start on an overland path to the Western Spire. There were things he needed to take care of there. Hopefully she wouldn't be disgusted by the place, but he was sure she would react to it in the same loving way she tolerated many eccentricities of his.
With a toss, Kaoru flew through the air and landed with an oof on the bed. She bounced once before she settled, hair flying every which way, and several layers of her dress tossed about awkwardly.
"You're impossible." Her arms folded and she fell onto her back.
"I love you too." Enishi said with a grin.