She came to us when she was seven.

It was just a month after my tenth birthday. I remember her at the party that bright day. I didn't want a party-I felt I had out grown them. Father had a small one anyways, just for the family. Of course that meant that she would be there even though she wasn't blood. The Higurashis and the Ryuus have always been close. In fact, the girl was even my parents' God daughter.

So the party ended up with about eight people, if Jaken is considered important enough to be counted. I remember that day with startling clarity. I remember it almost as vividly as I remember the day she came to us. But, to understand the events after that fateful day, you must know what happened on my birthday. On that day something no one expected, least of all me, happened.


"Sesshoumaru! Where's the birthday boy? We're ready to cut the cake!" A man's voice called out from the family dining room.

Sesshoumaru rolled his eyes and made his way to where the 'party' was being held. As he made his way down the stairs, a small figure perched on the bottom step caught his attention. The boy came to a stop on the next to last step and nudged the figure with his foot. A girl with bright blue eyes looked up at him and smiled.

"Hey, Maru-chan!" She chirped as she stood.

Sesshoumaru noticed she had something hid behind her and arched a brow at her fidgeting. "What are you hiding, Kagome?"

The seven year old grinned and held out a brightly wrapped present. "Here, I wanted to give you my present first. Go ahead and open it."

The ten year old youkai accepted her gift and sat beside her on the step. "Shouldn't your parents be here to see me open this as well?"

Kagome shook her head. "Iie, this gift is just from me. I saved up to get you something I knew you'd like."

Sesshoumaru turned his attention back to the gift and carefully opened it. A silver paper box was inside. He cut the tape and pulled off the box lid. Nestled within the red tissue paper was a leather bound first edition of his favorite book. The pages were gold tipped and the letters were gold embossed. Sesshoumaru opened the cover with a sense of reverence and almost gasped at the inside. Kagome had gotten the author to autograph it.

The youkai boy looked up at Kagome with his golden eyes wide. "How did you know?"

She giggled. "Your copy is so worn out that it was pretty easy to guess which was your favorite. Do you like it?"

He nodded. "It's wonderful, Kagome. You must have saved for a long time to buy this."

Her blue eyes sparkled and she gave him a hug. He stiffened from the unusual contact, but hesitantly returned the embrace. Kagome's gift startled him. She was his brother's, Inuyasha, age and had always played more with Inuyasha than Sesshoumaru. Yet, she had saved for probably a year to buy him the gift he most wanted. It made him feel...special that she would do that for him. That she thought enough of him to find out what he wanted and then save to make sure he got it.

"I always get the feeling that your birthdays come as a let down to you, Maru-chan," she said as she continued to hug him. "I wanted to make sure this one was special; that you got at least one thing you really want."

Sesshoumaru gave her a small, rare smile when she pulled away. "Kagome...thank you."

She grinned, making his own smile bloom a tiny bit more. Just as it did, a flash startled the two out of their private world. They looked up and found Mrs. Ryu standing in front of them holding a camera and beaming. Sesshoumaru's face was instantaneously blank again while Kagome's faintly turned red.

"I'm so happy to see you smiling again, Sesshoumaru," Mrs. Ryu said, beaming. "You are unhappy so often lately."

Inutaisho came and stood by his second wife, wrapping an arm around her waist. "So this is where you'd gotten off to, Sesshoumaru. What have you got there?"

Oh no, he wasn't letting his family spoil this gift. Quickly, he replaced the box lid and crumpled up the paper. Kagome seemed to understand his feelings and just smiled at his father.

"I gave Maru-chan my present early. That's all. Come on, I want some cake!" She said as she linked arms with Mr. and Mrs. Ryu. Just before she dragged the parents into the dining room, she gave Sesshoumaru a small, secretive wink. She had given him a chance to put the gift away.

Sesshoumaru sat on the steps a moment longer before he walked to his room and carefully hid the book in his secret bookshelf. That done, he quickly went back to the dining room and greeted the people there. Mr. and Mrs. Higurashi kept their gift simple and gave him money just as his father and step mother did. Inuyasha gave him a new bokatan.

Kagome was sitting in her customary seat between the brothers and acting as if nothing had happened. She acted as she always had: joking with Inuyasha, teasing Sesshoumaru playfully, and laughing at her father's jokes. Sesshoumaru watched her carefree banter and decided she wasn't half the baka he'd thought she was. She was actually...nice.

Inuyasha began making a sculpture of cake and icing on his plate while the adults began discussing business. Kagome looked up and caught Sesshoumaru's eye. Giggling, she stuck out her tongue at him playfully.

"Happy birthday, Maru-chan," she whispered.

Unbeknownst to the two youngsters, Mrs. Higurashi saw the whole thing. Now she sat across from her daughter and smiled a knowing smile as the stoic white headed boy gave a small grin back to the blue eyed girl. And the party laughter drifted around them happily...

End Flashback...

Kagome managed to crack some of my icy exterior that day. She had been so happy go lucky and vibrant. I thought things would always be like that. I knew I would grow up some day, but when you're ten, you seem to feel as though you'll be ten forever. Nothing will ever change. Somehow, things did change and our lives-especially Kagome's-were altered. It was raining that night our world shifted unexpectedly. Father had gotten the phone call at dusk and had left to get Kagome. Inuyasha and I knew nothing that was happening until Yuri, Inuyasha's mother, called us into the library.

Yuri was standing beside the window with a haunted look on her face. When she turned to us, we both knew something was horribly, horribly wrong. Then she told us. There had been an accident with the Higurashis. Bandits had attacked their carriage. Mr. and Mrs. Higurashi were murdered, leaving Kagome behind with no family besides us. Inuyasha sank into the couch, speechless while I-I didn't want to believe it. Mr. and Mrs. Higurashi were like my uncle and aunt. Something had to be a mistake. After Mother died, all I had left of my old life was father and the Higurashis. Now, even they were gone.

Dear Kami-Kagome. Kagome's parents were dead and she had no other family. Yuri told a crying Inuyasha that Kagome was coming to live with us and that Father was going to get her now. She would be staying in the room between mine and Inuyasha's. The door slammed rather forcefully and I remember that that was the exact moment the electricity went out in the storm.


Servants had been prepared for this and hastily lit lamps and candles. Inutaisho walked, dripping, into the library with an equally wet Kagome. The hood of her cloak was drawn over her head, shielding her face from the group. Inutaisho took off his cloak and wet boots, putting them in the hall closet. When he came back to the library, he went to remove Kagome's, but she leapt away from him and huddled into a corner. Inutaisho, face ashen and older than his sons had ever seen it, looked at his wife helplessly.

"They made her identify the bodies before I got there. There was nothing I could do. She's been like this since I got her. She hasn't said a word. Yuri, could you take her upstairs and give her a bath? I don't want her catching cold."

Yuri nodded, forcing back her tears, and walked over to the huddled Kagome. The girl didn't move as Yuri picked her up and carried her to the second story bathroom. Inutaisho turned back to his sons and poured himself a glass of brandy.

"Kagome was with her parents when it happened. She saw them get killed. You two understand what has happened, right?"

Sesshoumaru narrowed his eyes and nodded. Inuyasha looked at his father and slowly inclined his head.

"Good, because we're the only family Kagome has now. Do you two have a problem with her living with us?"

"Of course not, Father," Sesshoumaru answered as Inuyasha agreed.

"Kagome's in shock right now. You'll have to be patient with her until she's able to let go. She'll need you two."

The boys nodded and watched as their father downed the glass of liquor.

"Father, are you okay?" Inuyasha asked.

"I just lost my oldest and dearest friends, Inuyasha. I'll be okay in time. Right now, I think you two should be in bed."

The boys nodded and headed upstairs. They met Yuri coming down the stairs. She gave them a strained smile.

"Kagome's in her room. Please try not to wake her, okay?"

They nodded and made their way to their respective rooms. As Sesshoumaru buttoned up his pajama top, he glanced out the window at the storm. A movement on the ground caught his eye. Squinting, he made out the figure of a girl. It looked like Kagome. Sighing, the ten year old pulled on his galoshes and slicker. Rummaging around, he found an old slicker that was too small and grabbed it as he took his umbrella in the other hand.

He made his way outside and came to a stop beside a drenched Kagome. He wrapped the coat around her and fastened the buttons.

"You need to come inside, Kagome. It's a friggin tornado out here."

She blinked haunted, sad eyes at him, making him pause. Her eyes used to be so alive and happy. Her right hand pointed to something behind him. Turning, he felt his breath leave momentarily for at that moment the clouds parted. A large, blood red moon drifted eerily across the sky. What made the sight even more ghostly was that when the thunder crashed, purple lightening split the sky. Sesshoumaru turned to look at Kagome. Her face was tilted up and her hands were slack at her side. She seemed to be begging for an answer-praying for some reason to this nightmare. After a moment, purple lightening struck the tree in front of them.

Sesshoumaru grabbed Kagome and jumped back, but she had no reaction. The flames engulfed the tree surprisingly fast considering it was raining. The thing that would remain with the boy youkai forever, though, was the way the flames burned not orange but purple with blood red center. The wind raged around them and abruptly centered on Kagome. Before Sesshoumaru could do anything, the wind had lifted Kagome from the ground.


A blaze of the purple/red fire engulfed her in midair until it was sucked into her body all at once. She floated down and landed in front of him gently. His golden eyes met her blue ones as he silently questioned her. Kagome just shook her head and slipped her hand into his. Without a backward glance, he led her into the house and then tucked her into her bed. When he blew out the light, he heard her gasp softly. Immediately, he lit another candle and sat it on her bedside table.

Kagome squeezed his hand in thanks, but said nothing. Quietly, Sesshoumaru slipped to his own room, more worried about his friend than he cared to admit.

End Flashback...

Inuyasha had always been her friend; had always been the one she ran to with her secrets or ideas. I was...jealous a bit of their easy camaraderie. I had walled myself up so completely after Mother died that interactions with anyone were stiff and formal. But Kagome was different. Humf, that sounds so cliché. Both before and after the accident, she touched something in me that I couldn't shy away from or scorn. It was most irritating, to say the least. However, after her first nightmare, I knew she had become a part of me. I knew I couldn't walk away from her. How I tried to! Kami, how I wanted to just revert to my self made prison of ice. That annoying, frustrating, bothersome girl wouldn't let me. I've never thanked her for that. Hmmm...


Kagome had been at the Ryu home a week when Sesshoumaru awoke to his door cracking open. Sitting up in bed and blinking at the intruder, he found Kagome standing nervously in the doorway.

"Kagome? What are you doing up this late? It's," he broke off to look at the clock, "two in the morning."

The girl walked over to his bedside and blinked at him. There were tear tracks on her face. Sesshoumaru's nose twitched with the salty smell mixed in with Kagome's own rosy smell.

"Did you have a nightmare?"

She nodded.

"Can you go back to sleep?"

She shook her head and hugged herself. Sesshoumaru sighed and pulled her under the covers with him. Kagome sniffled and curled up against him. The young youkai was unused to comforting anyone so simply let her cuddle him until she drifted to sleep.

End Flashback...

Why she came to me that first night instead of going to my parents or Inuyasha, I'll never know. She came every night she had a nightmare, though, and crawled into bed with me. She never talked about it and I never asked. I figured that it was probably about her parents and she'd tell me if she wanted to talk about it. Or rather, she would write about what the nightmares were about and give it to me. Kagome quit talking after her parents died.

We tried everything to get her to talk. Inuyasha would pick fights with her and annoy her in the hopes that she would yell back at him or snap at him to shut up. Yuri would offer pleasant questions and inquiries about things Kagome was doing while Father would simply act as though he expected her to talk and by Kami she would. When they did this, Kagome would just look at them with this knowing look, like she knew what they were doing. I think she really appreciated the effort, but still, she refused to speak. I don't know if she literally couldn't, or if she just wouldn't, but it didn't really matter either way.

As for myself, I just figured that she'd talk when she got ready and tried to come up with a system of communicating with her. The worst problem she had was school. She had gone to an all girls private school before her parents died, but when she came to live with us, she transferred to the academy we were attending. Kagome was really smart with her classes and as a result, was only one grade behind me instead of two. I think that her intelligence and her inability to speak drew her a lot of attention she wouldn't have gotten otherwise. If she'd been one or the other she probably wouldn't have drawn so much trouble, but being mute and smart...well, let's just say that she got into her share of scrapes.

To this day I don't understand why the school bullies and gangs picked on her. Maybe it was because she never cried. Maybe it was because she never asked for help. Or maybe she was just an easy target. She was ten years old when I'd finally had enough of them picking on her. I should have put a stop to it sooner, but Kagome was afraid they'd come back worse if I got involved. Well, one bright April day I finally decided that I wasn't going to sit by anymore while Kagome was pushed around.

True, there were youkai and human alike at the academy and some had fierce reputations, but no one had ever seen me in a fight before. Not one of them had ever seen me loose my temper. They should have known better than to mess with someone that belongs to a future taiyoukai. We're very possessive. And Kagome most definitely was mine. My what, I wasn't exactly sure yet, but I'd figure that out later.


Kagome's eyes darted from side to side as she tried to walk down the school hall without causing attention to herself. Her head was bowed and her books were clutched tightly to her chest as she quietly made her way to class. She was almost there when her hair was snatched back painfully, causing her to drop her books. She was thrown into the elementary lockers by her hair and connected painfully with the metal. Pushing her hair back, she glared defiantly up at the boy who'd thrown her. There were several others with him, forming a semi circle around her, with the lockers blocking her retreat.

Sesshoumaru's head whipped around when he heard a loud crash. Several boys were gathered around something on the ground near the lockers. He was about to dismiss the disturbance when he caught the faint scent of roses. Golden eyes narrowed as he saw Kagome's face glaring up at the boys around her. A low growl rose up in his throat when one of the boys kicked her in her side.

"Come on, wench. Let's hear you say something! I know you can talk."

The boy raised his foot to kick her again. Swifter than lightening, Sesshoumaru was in the middle of the ring, standing protectively over Kagome. A growl that he'd been suppressing rose up and spilled forth even as his eyes bled red. Sharp claws elongated as he instinctively increased his youki. The boys paused in their torture to stare at him.

"Sesshoumaru? What's your problem, man?"

"Leave her alone," he snarled at them.

Kagome got to her feet behind him and stood meekly back. Sesshoumaru's tail twitched and curled around her waist in a display of possessiveness and affection. He spared her a brief glance, to which she gave a small smile of reassurance.

The group of bullies tightened the circle and stood their ground. "We're just having some fun, Ryu. This doesn't involve you. You may be a youkai, but there are six of us, four of us youkai as well. There's no way you can take us all on while protecting her. Just hand her over and we'll call it a truce."

Sesshoumaru growled and then smiled wickedly at their stupidity. Faster than they could blink, he swept Kagome into his arms and brought out his youki whip. Spinning in a circle, his whip tore through the bullies and the school's lockers in a matter of seconds.

After a moment, Sesshoumaru stopped spinning and steadied a dizzy Kagome. When she regained her bearing, she looked around and wrinkled her nose at the mess in the hall. Sesshoumaru scooped her up and flew to the garden beside the school.

"How hard did he kick you?" Sesshoumaru asked as he released Kagome.

She looked down and shrugged.

"Let me see it."

Hesitantly, she lifted her shirt a bit so he could see the nasty bruise forming on her lower ribs. Sesshoumaru narrowed his eyes in fury for what they'd done to her. Gently, he probed the wound with his hand. He stopped when Kagome hissed in pain. Drawing back, he motioned that she could resettle her shirt.

"Yuri should look at that when we get home, but nothing's broken."

Kagome nodded as he turned to go. Before he could return to the school, Kagome caught his shirt sleeve. When Sesshoumaru pivoted to face her, she launched herself into his arms, signing her hand motion for 'I'm sorry.'

Slowly, Sesshoumaru returned her embrace and hushed her. "It's not your fault, Kagome. Those guys are just bastards. I won't let them hurt you again."

She pulled away and gave him a brilliant smile. It was the first real smile she'd had since her parents died. Sesshoumaru smiled back and led her into the school.

End Flashback...

People stopped messing with Kagome after that. The few idiots-who were really too stupid to live-that did pick on her found out quickly that if you messed with her, you messed with me. After a while, the attacks on her stopped all together.

Something that amused my family (and maybe creeped them out just a bit) was this weird awareness Kagome had. It didn't matter what she was doing or where she happened to be, she always knew where I was. She had the sense before her parents died, but it seemed to grow afterward. It never bothered me much because Kagome seemed to be able to know when I wanted to be alone and thus didn't pursue me then.

A day that stands out in my mind is a hot summer evening when I was fifteen. I had escaped the chaos of the house and sat on a nearby hill watching the sun set. The scent of roses filled my nose long after I felt her presence. See, I could always find Kagome, just as she could always find me. I never told anyone about it, but I think Kagome knew.

That evening, she sat beside me and watched the sky light up with colors. Kagome couldn't come near me without my tail leaping away from me to curl around her in some way. When it first started happening, I was so humiliated. I very nearly hacked the damned thing off. It didn't matter where we were-if Kagome was near me, my tail was going to be holding her. After years of this happening, I had finally resigned myself to the fact. Truth be told, I didn't even notice it anymore.

That's probably why I nearly leapt out of my skin when Kagome began stroking my tail. Recovering from my near heart attack (Kagome's shoulders were shaking with silent laughter-the brat) I found my tail curled around her waist. She was the only person allowed to touch my tail. I allowed her some privileges when in private and she never ceased to utilize them. She always liked it when I purred, even though I promised her a swift and painful death if she ever told anyone that I was even capable of such a ridiculous thing.

She scooted a bit closer to me and took my hand. I reflexively closed mine around her smaller one. We sat like that, just comfortable in each other's company, until we both fell asleep on each other. I half awoke when I felt my father behind us. He just told me to go back to sleep as he scooped both me and Kagome up. I was fifteen and she was twelve; we were both too old to be carried, but Father is a full taiyoukai and the combined weight of us wouldn't even faze him. So I simply closed my eyes and resumed sleeping.

If only I had known what would happen the next day. Perhaps I would have spoken to her more. Perhaps I could have stopped it. As I stare out my bedroom window toward the hill we slept on that day-so long ago, I can't help but wonder about things that could have been. But, I didn't know and it's no use living in the past-no matter how tempting it is.

That was the last truly happy time I've had. The morning after that, I knew something was going to happen. Father and Yuri were acting strange. A knock sounded at the door and Jaken let in two men and a woman. Father began speaking with them while Yuri called Inuyasha and me into the living room. Dear Kami, if only I had known. If only I hadn't left.


Sesshoumaru and Inuyasha followed Yuri into the living room. She had them sit down and took a seat across from them.

"Boys, as you know, Kagome has been with us for five years. During that time, she hasn't gotten any better. She still doesn't speak and her parents' death haunts her." She paused and took a deep breath. "There is a school in the northern part of your father's kingdom that specialized in trauma cases like Kagome. We've decided to send her there in the hopes that they can help her. Those people are here to escort her to the school."

Inuyasha leapt up. "WHAT!? Does she know? Have you told her about it?"

Yuri sighed. "We didn't want to upset her. Understand, boys, we're trying to help her. We love Kagome. We aren't sending her away on a whim."

Sesshoumaru was furious. Before he could open his mouth to retort, a loud crash from the dining room drew their attention. The sound of a struggle came from the lobby. Sesshoumaru rushed out with Inuyasha and Yuri on his heels. They found Kagome struggling against the two male visitors. She looked up and locked eyes with Sesshoumaru. Those blue orbs pleaded with him as the men dragged her out to the carriage. Coming to his senses, Sesshoumaru ran after her and knocked the men off of her. Gathering the fragile girl in his arms, he leapt away from the men. Inuyasha blocked the men's way when they made for Kagome again. He kept them busy while Sesshoumaru spoke to Kagome.

"Gomen, Kagome, I didn't know," Sesshoumaru whispered as he held her.

She sobbed against him and clutched the front of his shirt tightly. Deftly, he slipped off his ring and slid it onto Kagome's finger. It was a beautiful silver ring with a crescent sapphire in the middle. Two rubies on each side portrayed setting suns indicating the West. On the inside was Sesshoumaru's name in kanji. Kagome looked at him with wide eyes. He gave a small smile and hugged her to him. Burying his face in her hair, he shut his eyes tightly to the fact that he was about to lose her.

Abruptly, they were jerked apart. Ah Un was restraining Inuyasha and the two men were dragging Kagome away. Inutaisho was holding Sesshoumaru back as he watched Kagome being torn from him. Kagome kept fighting at the men and reaching for an equally struggling Sesshoumaru.

"KAGOME!" He shouted as they pulled her into the carriage.

Sesshoumaru saw her mouth his name just as the carriage door slammed. Yuri was crying and even Inutaisho was having a difficult time restraining Sesshoumaru as Kagome's carriage carried her away from them. A fine layer of white fur began to form on Sesshoumaru's skin as he fought his father's hold. Golden eyes flamed red as Sesshoumaru's youki darkened almost to black. The youki filled the air around them menacingly as the youkai grew more and more furious. Yuri stepped away and even Inuyasha stopped struggling when he saw what was happening to his half brother.

Sesshoumaru's fangs and claws elongated and his low growl sounded like thunder across the Western Lands as it increased murderously.

"Let me go!" He snarled in a deadly guttural voice.

Inutaisho had no intentions of doing that. He could barely restrain Sesshoumaru as it was. If the boy was let loose, he might never get him back under control. When had his son become this powerful?

Just as Sesshoumaru was either going to break away or Inutaisho was going to knock him out, something happened. A brilliant flame of purple and red fire shot back at them and engulfed Sesshoumaru. It levitated him up and flooded him with peaceful, reassuring feelings. Slowly, the youkai calmed and reverted to his usual state. The scent of roses was all around him. As soon as it had come, it floated to the ground, released Sesshoumaru, and disappeared.

"What the Hell was that?" Inuyasha said after a moment.

"Kagome," Sesshoumaru answered as he turned to go inside.

Inutaisho put his hand on the boy's shoulder and opened his mouth to speak when Sesshoumaru leveled an icy, furious glare at him.

"Don't touch me."

His father frowned and withdrew his hand. Sesshoumaru walked into the house and slammed the door behind him. Inuyasha scurried over to his parents and scratched his head.

"Is Aniki going to be all right?"

Yuri sighed and ruffled her son's hair. "I hope so, Inuyasha. I hope so."

"Will Kagome come back?"

"Mochiron, Inuyasha. You can even write to her," Inutaisho said.

Inuyasha nodded and dashed off to his room. Yuri took Inutaisho's hand as they went into the house.

"Did you know Sesshoumaru had become that strong?"

The elder youkai shook his head. "I've never seen him angry enough to use his full power. When we're training, his calm demeanor conceals how much effort he puts out. He will probably surpass me in power," he said proudly.

"I'm surprised Kagome's a miko. She's never given any sign that she was. Such power! My gosh, I've never seen such power wielded in a miko. How did Sesshoumaru know it was her?"

Inutaisho sat down beside his wife. "Sesshoumaru and Kagome have always had a unique bond. I've suspected for a while that she was a miko. I'm glad that school has the capabilities to teach her control. I just hope this helps her. Sesshoumaru will never forgive me."

Yuri laid her head on his shoulder. "Give him time, love. He's only fifteen and this has been a huge shock."

Inutaisho winced. "Hai, but he can hold a grudge almost as long as I can."

Their heads whipped around as a green blob flew down the stairs and splattered against the wall. Yuri and Inutaisho watched as Jaken slid liquidly down the wall and puddled on the floor.

"Thong...too tight...wrong color," he mumbled before he passed out.

The parents looked at each other and adamantly decided not to ask about that. There were some things they really didn't want to know.

End Flashback...

She's been away for six years now. I've written to her every week. At first, she would only respond to mine and Inuyasha's letters. Gradually, however, she began answering Yuri's and Father's. She never sent letters. Always it was pictures. She sent me pictures of her dorm, her school, the gardens, her teachers, and odd things that she liked. I actually chuckled at some of the teachers' pictures. Kagome drew faces on them to show what they were like.

Her birthdays were the hardest for me. Every year she sent a picture of her birthday cake with five pieces cut out and on plates around a table. In front of each slice was either mine, Inuyasha's, Yuri's, Father's, or her name. She cut a piece for us every birthday. She never sent a picture of herself.

Now, we'd gotten word that she was coming home. After so long, she was finally coming back. What was I supposed to say to her? What was I supposed to do? I've changed so much; I've grown up. Has she changed? What if she's no longer the Kagome I know? What then? Argh, so many questions. I'll drive myself insane like this.

I'm broken out of my thoughts when a familiar presence appears in my room behind me. Dear Kami, she's here.

Sesshoumaru went rigid as the scent of roses assaulted his nose. He'd known she was in the house, but he had been certain she would be a long time with his family. He'd hoped he'd have more time to come up with what to say. More time to figure out what to do.

Slowly, he turned around to face her. His first view of Kagome after six years took his breath away. She was taller than she had been, but not by much. Her frame was still petite, but had filled out to a woman's curves now. She was wearing a traditional purple kimono with silver designs on it. Her raven hair was cascading over her shoulders, and longer than it used to be. Her blue eyes were the same, though she now had the face of an adult.

Was it him, or were there tears in her eyes? And, was she actually as uncertain as her stance implied? Sesshoumaru took a step forward.

"Kagome," he said softly.

That was all she needed. Running to him, she launched herself into his arms and hugged him as tightly as she could. All the doubt, all the nervousness he'd been feeling was washed away in that moment. She was still his Kagome. A tenderness he hadn't known he possessed flooded him as he held her to his chest-afraid that she would be gone if he released her.

"I'm sorry, Kagome. I'm so sorry," he whispered as he sank to the floor with her in his arms.

At some point, she had begun crying and her tears soaked through his shirt. She lifted her head to look at him and smiled a smile that chased away all his fears of her not forgiving him. Snuggling closer to him, she ran her hand through his tail occupying her waist.

"Maru-chan," she whispered, "I missed you."

Sesshoumaru started at her voice and leaned back to stare at her. He hadn't heard her speak in over a decade. The shock was evident on his face as he processed her words. Her voice was gentle and musical. It had matured since she was seven.

"I thought...that is, your school said you still didn't speak."

Kagome grinned at him. "Like I wanted to talk to those idiots anyway."

After a moment, he shook his head and chuckled. "You haven't changed, Kagome. I've missed you."

She took something from her finger and slipped it into his palm. "I believe this belongs to you."

Arching a brow, he looked at what she had given him. It was his ring. Golden eyes found twinkling blue ones again.

"I think you should keep up with it for now," he replied as he put it back on her finger. "I never thanked you for what you did the day you left," Sesshoumaru started. "If you hadn't sent that flame back, I probably would have killed someone."

Kagome smiled and buried her face in the crook of his neck. "I couldn't let you get hurt, Maru-chan. Even if I wanted nothing more than for you to come after me and take me back."

"Did they help you, Kagome?" He asked, almost hesitantly. If that school hadn't helped her, he'd never forgive himself for letting her go.

"Hai, they did. I can control my miko powers now so I won't accidentally harm someone. It's pretty cool, all the things I can do. The school wasn't that bad, but there was this guy named Hojo that kept following me around, asking for permission to court me. He was a nice guy and all, but I just didn't like him like that."

A growl rose up in Sesshoumaru's throat. "Did he touch you?"

The miko met his eyes and almost smiled at the possessive worry she saw there. "Iie, Maru-chan. He was a gentleman so you can't kill him."

He nodded, but still didn't like this Hojo character. "Do Father and Yuri know you speak?"

She giggled a harmonic laugh and shook her head. "Of course not. I'd never speak to them before you."

His heart swelled with tenderness as he stroked her hair away from her face. "How you've grown, my Kagome. How much I've missed."

A small hand came up and rested on his larger one that cupped her cheek. "You know, don't you, Maru-chan?"

Golden eyes studied blue ones for a very long while before Sesshoumaru was tired of the games they'd played. He wanted the pretending to stop. There were too many emotions between them that had been building since they were children.

"Know what," he asked in a low voice.

Kagome stared at him, her heart in her eyes, and he knew she wearied of the games just as he did. Whatever they had been avoiding for so long was finally coming out.

"That I love you," she whispered. "I'm yours forever, Maru-chan, even if it is not by your side."

Sesshoumaru clutched her to his chest and buried his face in her neck. "I know, Kagome. I love you, too."

It was the hardest and easiest thing he'd ever said. Such a simple truth, and yet, they could never walk away from it again. This was something that bound their souls together. Kagome ran her fingers through his hair as he gripped her tightly.

"What happens now," she asked against his shoulder.

"Now? Now, I don't ever let you out of my sight again." He drew away from her and framed her face with his hands. "I want you by my side, Kagome. I want you with me forever. Will you do that for me? Will you be my mate, my wife, my heart?"

Reaching up, she cupped his face as well. "Did you even have to ask?"

Something like joy flared in his eyes as he pulled her to him and lowered his head. Kagome's eyes fluttered closed as she waited for the inevitable sting. Sure enough, after a second, she felt Sesshoumaru's fangs buried in her neck. Lifting her hand, she placed it on the crook of his neck. Purple/red lightening flamed from her palm, marking him just as he marked her. Once the marking was over, they both panted and looked at each other. It took a lot of energy to give a life bonding mark.

"I hope you aren't expecting me to do more than sleep tonight, Maru-chan. I'm worn out from traveling and being emotional, not to mention marking you."

He chuckled and shook his head. "Sleep sounds like an excellent idea."

Kagome smiled sleepily. "Well, you could at least give me a good night kiss."

Sesshoumaru relented rather reluctantly (snort, yeah right.) and brushed his lips across hers in a tender kiss. Her lips parted easily under his, inviting him to deepen the kiss. He smiled against her lips and did indeed accept her invitation. He felt...complete with Kagome. The kiss was more than just physical, it touched their souls. After asphyxiation became a looming problem, they parted. Kagome snuggled against him and slowly fell asleep. Sesshoumaru smiled and scooped her into his arms as he stood. Walking to his bed, he tucked her under the covers and climbed in with her. For the first time since she'd slept in his bed, he cuddled her. Watching her peaceful face, he soon followed her to sleep.

After an hour of leaving Kagome and Sesshoumaru alone to catch up, Yuri, Inutaisho, and Inuyasha went in search of the two. They found them curled around each other in Sesshoumaru's bed. Yuri smiled and then went to wake them. After all, they weren't children any more and it wasn't proper for Kagome to share his bed. Inutaisho, however, put a hand on her shoulder to stop her.

"Leave them be, Yuri."

"But, it isn't proper for her to sleep with him, even if it is only sleeping."

Inutaisho shook his head. "Sesshoumaru and Kagome have marked each other. They are mates now. It is all right to leave them alone. I think Sesshoumaru would be a bit opposed to the idea of his mate sleeping in a different bed."

Yuri blushed and Inuyasha snickered. "It's about time those two admitted how they felt. Everyone else knew."

Inutaisho chuckled and shooed them out of the room. "Sometimes the best things in life are worth waiting for. I think that is the case here."

Yuri nodded. "Hai, I believe so." She looked at her husband suspiciously. "You knew what would happen when you sent Kagome up here alone, didn't you?"

He grinned mischievously. "Those two can't be anywhere near each other without charging the room with electricity. Even when they were children, you could feel the bond there. Of course I knew what would happen." He paused and considered. "However, Sesshoumaru is a stubborn pup sometimes. If he didn't ask her to be his mate, I was going to officially disown him."

Yuri laughed and watched as Inuyasha went off to torture Jaken. "So Kagome's the future Lady of the Western Lands?"

"Hai, she is. She will also bear the heir to the throne and our grandchildren."

"But, how will the other lords react to a hanyou taiyoukai," she asked sadly. "I know how much they were against our union and Inuyasha."

Inutaisho frowned and drew her into his arms. "Yuri, you know I love you and Inuyasha, but due to the political turmoil involved with being a taiyoukai, a hanyou could never take the throne of the West. He simply wouldn't be powerful enough to defend against three other taiyoukai."

Yuri nodded. "I know and I don't blame you. It just saddens me that people are so closed minded. What about Sesshoumaru's and Kagome's children?"

"Kagome's power will enable her to bear Sesshoumaru full youkai children if he so wishes. Their children will be the most powerful I've ever seen if they inherit their parents' power. Sesshoumaru is more powerful than we will probably ever know and Kagome is, I wager, equal to him in that regard. They will be good rulers."

Yuri smiled. "Well, I hope you plan on sticking around for a while longer, my dear."

Inutaisho smirked wickedly as he scooped his wife up and ran toward their room. Inuyasha felt a breeze blow by him and yelled at Jaken to close the windows.

Jaken looked around in confusion. "But, milord, all the windows are closed." Inuyasha growled at him and Jaken took off down the hall. "Of course, I seem to recall seeing a window down here cracked. I'll just go close it."

Inuyasha smirked and strutted to his room, pleased with himself.
What did I do to deserve this? I ask myself as I watch Kagome's peaceful sleeping. Where did I go right? Her breathing speeds up a bit before dawn and her eyes slit open. Her Heavenly smile is enough to warm every inch of me.

"Ohayo, Koishii," I whisper in her ear as I nuzzle her neck.

"Konnichi wa, Maru-chan," she whispers back as she curls up against me. "I love you."

"As I you, Kagome-love."

She nods and absently strokes my tail. Kami, my purring starts up furiously. That seems to amuse her because she giggles a bit and kisses my cheek.

"I love your purr. I love waking up to you."

I stare at her expressive eyes and kiss the tip of her nose. "Only for you. What do you want to do today?"

Kagome smiles and gives me a chaste kiss. "Oh, I hadn't thought much about doing anything but staying in bed. How does that sound?"

It sounded like a splendid idea to me and I told her as much, earning another giggle. Kami help me, but I did love her. I decided I'd had enough talking and rolled over on top of her.

"Aren't we eager," she teased.

"Eager?" I scoff with arched brows. "I'd say waiting eighteen years is extremely patient, my dear."

"Well, I suppose that does deserve a reward. Do you think you can handle it?"

Ooo, did she know what she was doing to me? Well, I suppose it was time to show her. "I think I'll manage," I whisper against her lips a moment before claiming them as my own.

Before Kagome, I never realized how such tiny things can drastically alter your life. She was like one of those tiny Egyptian snakes, the asp. It's so small, you don't really even notice it until it bites you. The poison rushes through your veins in a matter of seconds before it engulfs you completely. Kagome was like that. She'd bitten me before I even realized she was a threat. Only, it wasn't poison, but love that she injected me with. I can't even remember when I'd been bitten, only that I had and I couldn't fight it. Kagome was my heart, my love, my everything and, as I discovered, I was hers. We complete each other.

And they lived happily ever after...

The End