Inamorata

By Zandrellia

Summary: It is often said that love grows from unexpected places. Sometimes those we took for granted grow on us in ways which are impossible to deny. Will he admit the emotion he has refused for so long before it's too late? (Sess/Rin)

Chapter One: Birthday Girl

She giggled and ran up to him, holding out her flowers. He stared down at the bright yellow tipped weeds and then looked back up to the scenery, effectively ignoring her and pleasing her all at once. He never understood that about her.

That day he realized that she had grown so much already. No, she wasn't a woman yet. She was probably around ten or eleven years old from his guess. He had heard that humans had a tradition for celebrations of birthdays. It would probably amuse her if he had a party for such a day in her honor. Unfortunately they did not know when she had been born.

It had never occurred to him to keep track of when he had found her or when he had revived her broken form. He could hardly recall the day, even now. It had just not seemed important at the time. But as she aged and grew he discovered something amazing.

He appreciated her. He wanted her to live just to see her smiling face every morning and her sleepy yawns at night. As the afternoon sun beat down on her prancing form he let a small smile hint on his lips before tucking it away to keep with the others that liked to come for her and her alone. You could even say that he liked her.

Slowly, so as not to rouse her suspicions, he led their small group to a village. When they arrived she looked up at him, eyes twinkling in delight and hope. "Anything you want." She squealed in glee and ran into the market, prancing between the different foods, cloths, and other baubles that caught her eye. Eventually she found a slightly longer kimono that was a pretty shade of green and had little pink blossoms sewn down the front.

Holding it out before her to show him he nodded in acceptance and she beamed with the praise. He would never tell her outright that he felt she had the most wonderful taste when it came to clothes. Not like most women, she had a sense of dignity to her style that he found refreshing in a female. Even more amazing was that she was still young. He couldn't imagine what she'd choose when she got older.

Hopefully she would never change. In a way the girl made him think of what his mother must have been like. He had never known the woman, she had died shortly after his birth, but he had heard stories of her from his father and those who knew his family. She had been a simple woman, too. Pleased with the most basic of things, once someone had even told him that his father had wooed her by taking her to see a meteor shower from a cavern view over a waterfall; they had said that just the sheer beauty of nature was all it had taken for the young lord to convince the woman to mate.

Looking back towards where she had been he noticed that she was missing from his view. A possessive growl escaped him and several humans backed away in fear. Then he saw her standing there, laughing with another young girl. They were discussing the various sandals and slippers that were for sale. Inwardly he sighed and told his heartbeat to slow down. For a moment he had believed that she had been stolen away.

That could never happen. He would not allow it. Ever since it had with that idiot wolf prince he knew that he would have to keep a closer watch on the child. It was just that he couldn't seem to keep focused while she was around. The sense of calm that she gave everyone even affected him and he often found his mind wandering before he knew what was happening. He let out an angry growl, realizing that he was doing that exact thing and then glaring around the market for the child.

She was skipping towards him, her purchases in hand. He waited until she was near and then turned to leave without a word. His ear strained against the sounds of the humans to listen for her following and was pleased when he heard her humming a tune behind him. When they had left the village and were back in the woods, returning to where his retainer had been left, she finally spoke.

"Thank you, Lord Sesshomaru!"

He did not look at her. With a slight nod of his head he replied, a silent welcome to her which she easily understood. When they reached the area that they had left Jaken the toad immediately threw himself to the ground, making himself more dirty and pitiful looking. "Lord Sesshomaru! You have returned to this lowly Jaken!"

Sesshomaru fought the urge to roll his eyes. The toad said something like that every time. As if he had forgotten about him or something. Maybe someday he should purposefully leave the idiot somewhere and not return for a few months, just to see if it would be dead when he came back. Rin's laughter halted his thoughts as the child ran up to the toad and held out her purchases to show them off.

"Look Jaken! Aren't they pretty?" The retainer's usual green color seemed to fade into a hideous yellow tint and he glared at the items and the female. Mouth agape he blinked a few times before looking to his stoic lord and back to the girl.

"What are those for?"

Rin giggled at him and gave a happy sigh before twirling the new kimono around. "Lord Sesshomaru took me to the village today! He said I could get anything I wanted. Oh! I got something for you, too, Jaken!" Sure enough, the girl brought out a little hat for the toad and even Sesshomaru had to smirk at the confused look on the retainer's face.

"They are gifts."

Both the girl and the toad turned to look at him, each with completely different expressions. He frowned slightly before his face returned to the solid nothingness and he turned away from them under the guise of scouting the area. As if he didn't know it all by memory already.

"Gifts! What for?" Jaken squawked. Sesshomaru allowed a slight growl to escape, hearing the toad gulp and throw himself to the ground once more.

"Humans have a tradition. They are birthday presents."

Jaken blinked but Rin smiled up at him and then back to her recent purchases, hugging the kimono even more. "Thank you, Lord Sesshomaru!" Her tone was even more grateful and full of so much exuberance. He was certain that she would die of exhaustion someday. Living so happily had to be draining.

From that day on it was officially Rin's birthday. They dubbed her to be ten years old and that evening, after a bath in a river, she donned the new kimono and the sandals that she chose to go with them. When he saw that she had chosen sandals something in him died. She had never worn shoes before.

What he never knew was that he might grant her a day of birth, or gifts of appreciation, but he could never grant her what he was given so easily. Immortality. Eventually, all little girls grow up.