Author's Note: Second chapter for today! Enjoy it and review! Ten will be up soon!

runs off to work on FMA fics


NINE

"Well then, let's get you to bed hmm?" I stated scooping Rin up off the tatami mats. She grumbled a little bit before snuggling into my arms. It was well into the night and Rin had been dozing off in front of her rice bowl for nearly two hours, while the remainder of the group conversed with me and each other over the empty sake bottles. It was surprising just how much the seemingly faithful monks could throw back in a single evening, even Sesshomaru had raised a cup, only once but just the same, the effort was made. But I had the idea that unlike Sesshomaru, the monks were taking any chance to celebrate something.

As I stepped from the room I glanced over my shoulder at Sesshomaru who had only nodded his head and spoken with Takai in low voices for the entire evening. His eyes met mine for only a moment before I stepped out into the cold.

There was no moon, only the snow and the yellow light from the lamps giving a slight glow off the snow which was now nearly up to the porch. I held Rin a bit closer as I walked down the porch. It was very cold for so early in the winter. I stopped in front of the room where Rin slept and after depositing her among the furs and blankets I was dashing down the porch and back into the warmth of the assembled monks and Sesshomaru. I had barely seated myself when Sesshomaru rose.

"We will start out tomorrow."

"But--" I protested.

"The snow will have stopped by morning. So we will leave then." And with that Sesshomaru walked out, and I just shook my head and followed him.

Sesshomaru heard Lin walk out behind him, which was exactly the thing he had wanted to avoid, but he let her follow him for a few moments before speaking.

"Sleep would prove to be beneficial for you. Tomorrow will be harsh travel."

"Then why are we leaving?"

"And you believe the weather on a mountain top will grow fairer?" He stated sharply.

"No! I was just--" He interrupted her with a scoff as they entered "their" room. Only one of the lanterns was lit and all the panels were shut to block out the wind and snow.

Sesshomaru disliked the closeness that the room suddenly gained. He had also noted that Lin has stayed the proper two paces behind him. That was better, at least she understood the terms of this arrangement. He didn't turn as she shuffled about the room, gathering clothes for sleeping and shifting the linens around, and he could sense a sudden urgency and uncertainly in her scent, it didn't suit her, but she was a mortal they were flimsy and shifted aura and scent often, so he merely let it slip from his mind. Stepping to the far side of the room he slid the far panel open and looked outside into the now frozen night. Lin continued to shuffle and move about, when he heard her change clothes and sit on the futon, he finally turned back around.

"Do you have to leave that open?"

"It will be open."

"But it's freezing in here! Silk isn't very warm you know!"

"Then you should have packed warmer clothing. Your body temperature is not my concern."

"It is if you want to keep me alive!"

"And what makes you certain that is my intention?" That made her fall silent. Sesshomaru removed his fur and tossed it to her before removing his sash, armor and various other top clothing and setting it atop the saddle bags before sitting among the fur and linens with her.

I took the fur that landed partially in my lap and wrapped it around my shoulders, it was very warm, which was nice because it was now very cold in the room. I stared at it in the light and watched my breath and the breeze blow the fur to glint and turn in the moonlight. It must have been several minutes before I looked at Sesshomaru. Things had suddenly become so awkward. It was amazing how just a few words could do that to people. It wasn't as if we weren't awkward before, and I should be happy it was my wedding night... wait! It was MY wedding night! The mere thought made my stomach seize up and I felt sick. Sesshomaru had held up his end and now it was my turn to levy the bet. I would have been lying if I said I had thought about this, because I hadn't even considered what would happen after this point. What did he suddenly expect from me? And would he demand it now? I tugged the fur tighter around me just as I felt his clawed hand slowly glide its way into my hair. I shivered.

Sesshomaru felt her shiver under his touch, but knew it wasn't from the cold. He could sense what her thoughts were, as if she had been screaming them at him at this very moment. This observation spurred some of the thoughts he'd put off from earlier in the day to float back. This evening for example, at the ceremony and the banquet, he finally took note of the care she had placed in her appearance for today. For a mortal she was one of the far more attractive ones he had come across and the paint she had applied to her face only made that fact more obvious. And her normally forced smile, tonight had been genuinely bright as she talked with Rin and ate happily with the other mortals around them. The snow was a fitting element for her, she was warm and the snow made her sharp tongue bearable because the image of her was altogether different. It was this contrast that struck him. She had never before seemed to take much care in her appearance or manners around him. It was difficult enough to get her to wear what he wanted her to. Her sudden eagerness must have been a function of this wedding business or for tonight as a matter of fact.

"What are you thinking?" Her voice reached him and it was surprisingly close he blinked and was only mildly surprised to see her face inches from him, feel her palms resting firmly but slightly shaky on his lower thighs and the fur cast aside behind her. He leaned away from her a few inches.

"Nothing of your concern, only making observations."

"Hmm, well if it was only that I didn't have to ask now did I? Are you going to tell me what was really in that air head of yours." And in a flash the old Lin was back, and Sesshomaru felt his upper lip twitch.

"If it is of the utmost importance to you then, I was recounting the day's events."

"Isn't much to remember is there?"

"Nothing of importance, no." Sesshomaru took this moment to adjust and send her off balance and back into the pile of fur and fabric.

"HEY! I was just asking a question!" I snapped. Okay so Plan A had failed... and something told me flying the flag of surrender would be the easiest at this point in time. I forced my fist into the futons in frustration and puffed some hair out of my eyes. If this was how the 

rest of my nights with him were going to be... then it was going to be a very long marriage... was there divorce court in this era? I scoffed at the thought and as I did so Sesshomaru's face appeared over mine and his hands were on the futon on either side of my hips. I jumped.

"Don't do that dammit! You move and I don't see it, it scares me!"

"I will do as I please."

"Sure you will 'my Lord' Geeze!" I wiggled my arms and then with great force threw them up to where they slapped his chest with a thump.

"I am much stronger then you woman. You won't be moving." His face showed a glimmer of arrogance, instead of the usual stony features. The shadows from the only lantern made it a bit menacing and the amber in his eyes glowed a bit brighter. His hands inched closer so his thumbs were against my hips.

"So I'm just going to lay here and you're going to stare at me? Or did you have some other 'concern'?"

"It was my 'concern' to establish the rules of this arrangement, unless having some opinion in this is against your wishes." I stared at him.

"What? You're going to listen to me?"

"No."

"Then what the hell are you asking me for!" I protested and began to wiggle away from him as fast as I could but I didn't get far when I felt his claws dig into my hips and yank me backwards with enough force that I whimpered. This time he took more care in "securing me", which was rather inconvenient, because my stomach was starting to ache with the tension of what his motive was. I shouldn't have eaten so much.

"I want it to be understood that you are now mine. And until I decide I am finished with you, you will not even think about running. You have nowhere to go remember. And I will no longer stand aside and let you traverse as you please. You serve me now and if I am not pleased, I will not hesitate to raise my hand any longer." I gulped and snaked my hands up to loop behind his neck... might as well try for some sort of Plan B.

"So I suppose the 'no affection clause' still stands..." I wrapped my fingers in the hair that I could grab and yanked down, hard. And to my surprise it worked.

Sesshomaru involuntarily moved his head down so it was just a few inches from her face. He could smell the sweets that had been served to them at dinner, on her lips and he could feel her straining against him as he pushed against her hands to free his hair. He couldn't believe the stupidity of this woman, but it wasn't stupidity was it? She was cunning and despite its annoying quality it was also vaguely amusing, he hadn't had someone stand up to him and live so long... with the exception of Inuyasha but that was a different matter. She gazed up at him with determination in her eyes, and for the first time he took the time to actually look at them. Even in the dim light they were vibrant. They reminded him of the foliage around the castle with the varying shades that melted into an emerald sparkle. He stopped resisting her so much as he looked down at her. They'd been this close if not closer, his mind flashed back to their last days at his palace, but tonight was different, and that thought was stopping him in his tracks, but only enough for his lips to halt for a moment before touching Lin's lips.

"Loord Sesshomar... Oh my!!" Jaken who had just entered the room... unannounced, which he only now realized was horribly bad, as his Lord's head jerked in his direction issuing a small shout from his Lady, Sesshomaru's eyes flashed red in his direction.

"OUT!" His master's growl was so frightening Jaken dropped his staff and cowered, but to his surprise it was his new Lady's voice that filtered to his little ears. He raised his head slowly. He couldn't see Lin under Sesshomaru, but she sounded flustered.

"Jaken, please, take your leave, now."

"Yes, yes of course m'lady!" And with that he shot out of the room without looking back. It seemed his Lord had finally committed to his father's will, and now perhaps there could be some happiness in their journeys... and Jaken himself might even be saved from a few bruises.

When the panel slammed shut again, Lin jerked Sesshomaru's head back around to face her.

"So you were just about to say some... some..." Lin started to shudder under him, and she crinkled her nose a bit. Their faces were inches apart when she burst out into laughter. Sesshomaru stared at her. She released the hold on his hair and shifted trying to move herself free from him. He sat up, as did she covering her mouth with one of her now free hands.

"We are nuts!"

"I beg your pardon?" Why in the name of something was she laughing? He saw nothing funny about this and he said so.

"I see nothing amusing about that incident just now."

"Oh! You wouldn't, but I just realized what was about to happen! Thank god he walked in! This has just been a bundle of awkward moments!! And with that she leaped forward and wrapped her arms around him. Sesshomaru kept his hands down for a moment before resting one on each of her hips. The woman was delusional or some other nonsense; that was what happened when mortals didn't sleep. Laying back on the futons with her still laughing softly against him, he pulled the fur around the two of them, and laid there with her, thinking about what had just past.

"How foolish of you to consider me being at all intimate with a mortal." He wasn't speaking to Lin but out at the small patch of night sky that had just become visible. After a moment in her silence however, he let out a small grunt that may have held the beginnings of a laugh, despite how the impossibility of it made the concept illogical. He took a free hand and reached up to stroke her hair softly as her breathing slowed and told him she had fallen asleep.