Disclaimer: I don't own anything… especially not Sesshomaru, nor his mother (who is now a canon! character, due to her appearance in the most recent InuYasha manga out of Japan).

A/N: A very, very fluffy, very romantic Sess/Adult!Rin OneShot written in honour of Wicked Oni's upcoming nuptials. Her excellent fic 'Eien Ni Nakunatta Shunkan' was a direct inspiration for 'Snowbound'; I've used terms and riffs from 'Eien Ni' throughout this ficlet in homage to her fertile imagination.

Bouquets to Alterfano for her editing skills (and wry commentary), and to Manon Le Chat for her thoughts and encouragement!

First posted on Live Journal August 4, 2006.

Cherished

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He awaits her in the innermost private garden of the shiro, framed by the moon gate under the trailing white wisteria, the air redolent with roses and the drowsy buzzing of the bees. A light, questing breeze stirs his long silver hair and ruffles the pelt arranged carefully over his shoulder; a few stray petals cling to his rich dark robes. He allows his thoughts and his gaze to wander freely, habitually suppressing any visible concern. Surely the preparations are nearly complete? What can be taking the imp? Impassively, he watches his half-brother striking his characteristic truculent pose, hands shoved deeply into his scarlet sleeves, those ridiculous ears flickering constantly, standing protectively over the miko as she sits on a low chair in the shade of a magnolia tree. He allows this slight, of the human remaining seated in his presence in the interests of peace on this day… Very soon, my bride will be in the same condition and she may require the same favour to be shownit is insufferable that Inuyasha should take the forefront in this matter as well.

In order to avoid ruining his mood by chewing over old resentments, he turns to contemplating the changes wrought by the path he chose that have led to this day. The first, of course, is that he and the hanyou are not only in the same physical space, both bearing their father's fangs…but the insults are not flying, nor is the ancient shiro in the process of being reduced to rubble. In fact, he is not wearing any armour at all, only several layers of very formal silk robes, and the hanyou will stand as his witness, the same role he himself performed five years ago at the village called Edo. Perhaps we have both finally matured, he and Iat least he can remain civil in polite company.

The second is that the girl-child Tenseiga chose grew up, seemingly overnight, into a beguiling creature that began to occupy his thoughts far more than she should have for his pride's sake. She had been a part of his existence for so long, and somewhere along the way had burrowed into his well-guarded heart so deeply, that by the time he noticed the breach in the walls…it was too late to stem the tide. Despite the tumult and the bloodshed caused by my choice of her…I would not go back and undo it, even if given the chance. These last two years have tested my control to its limits, but I could not honourably claim her as mine until my power… and my decision… was incontestable.

He finds himself imagining rather vividly what her womanly curves will feel like under his hand, and how her skin will taste, especially that delicate spot on the nape of her neck… He gives himself a mental shake, and turns to musing on the path that has led him here, where he never truly expected to find himself, sharing such an important day with not only his half-brother, but also humans. Naraku's tainted evil, now ten years gone, was cleansed from the earth along with the Shikon Jewel, and launched his proud family on a rather convoluted journey ending here in this garden, on this day.

He had thought it strange that the hanyou and his miko waited so long after the defeat to wed, and to start a family The strangely-garbed and strangely-accented girl was slightly younger than Rin is now at the end of evil, but she had some difficulties in adjusting to life in the village. Inuyasha had grudgingly explained her ability to travel between eras, and how the time portal had closed once the Jewel vanished, which answered a few questions while raising others.

He eyes the miko in question, noting that while her hands are hidden demurely inside her kimono sleeves like a proper matron, her unruly dark hair is successfully fighting its restraints; she senses his attention, glances up and smiles brightly, if a bit tiredly, at him. He inclines his head very slightly in acknowledgement.

A stronger breeze whirls the spent petals and interrupts his thoughts. Powerful youki washes over him; he closes his eyes. He hears the hanyou's low curse, the miko's startled gasp and inwardly grimaces. She has come.

"Why, Sesshomaru…you were waiting for me? How considerate…"

"Mother." He opens his eyes and gazes at the sharp-featured countenance of the elegant, mercurial, sometimes malicious creature that birthed him; she makes a show of looking over his attire, and apparently finds it wanting, since she occupies herself with dusting the petals off the dark damask of his kimono, adjusting the neckline, and re-arranging the pelt to suit her taste. He forces himself to give no sign of his discontent at her meddling, instead steeling himself for the exchange of 'pleasantries' to come.

Finally satisfied with his appearance now that she has done everything short of re-tying his obi for him, she preens before her private audience. She smoothes her already-sleek hair, flicks invisible dust from her shoulders and finally shakes her sleeves down over her slender hands before fixing him with keen yellow eyes. "You actually intend to go through with this?"

"It would be dishonourable to do otherwise."

She snorts derisively. "Your definition of honour is certainly unique among youkai. Are you absolutely certain this is not a mistake?"

As presumptous as ever. He schools his features into a blank mask. "I do not make mistakes, Mother."

Arching a perfect brow, her lip twitches. "So your father once claimed, my son." She casts her eye towards the couple under the magnolia; Inuyasha has raised Kagome to her feet, a clawed hand protectively hovering over the girl's swollen belly and leads her towards the stately pair. "I suppose that I must ready myself to give both this girl and your bride the same advice I gave Izayoi…"

"You gave his mother advice?" He cannot keep the surprise from his voice; her laughter trills.

"I kept track of each one of your father's dalliances; hanyou pregnancies are not for the faint of heart, Sesshomaru, particularly if the father is a taiyoukai. I fully expect that your lady will experience the same travails as Izayoi. I wonder, though, if the child will have inu ears or a tail…or maybe even paws?" She turns to graciously acknowledge the formal greeting of the heavily pregnant miko and the curt nod from Inuyasha, scattering his earlier resentment like leaves in the wind while he ponders these unexpected morsels of information.

The child of this Sesshomaru…a hanyou… Abruptly, he is sure that his mother is testing his resolve regarding Rin, as she has done consistently for the past two years, as soon as she realized there was more to his interest in the girl than as a mere passing fancy. I will be the father of hanyous…like my father before me…and would willingly give my life for them. He almost smiles. Yes, Father…I have someone to protect.

"Ah, here is your bride, Sesshomaru. My, doesn't she look lovely!" He spares his mother a brief glance, not entirely sure if she is being genuine or sarcastic, and then all previous thoughts fly out of his head at the sight of the young woman standing poised in the ornamental gateway, escorted by the beaming toad-imp and the officers of the court on this most auspicious of days. Jaken ushers her in, and then bows his leave, closing the gates behind him and shutting out the sharp eyes of the Court. Hush descends on the enclosed, fragrant space, and he can breathe freely.

Rin is robed in shimmering white and cream in the human fashion, but no hood covers her sleek head, and no makeup mars her complexion. Her dark tresses are demurely pinned up; her only ornament is a coronet of golden roses. As she moves gracefully towards them, his claws itch to pull out the restraining combs, to send her hair tumbling over her shoulders as he kisses the pale column of her throat… not yet, but soon…his mother steps forward, reaching into her sleeve as Rin bows deeply to her and he tenses until he sees what she holds in her hand. "It is time that you set aside the flowers of a maiden, and wear the jewels of a wife. In the place of my deceased lord husband, I present you with this and welcome you to the House of the West."

He watches, more than slightly stunned, as his mother's long claws flick the carefully arranged flowers out of Rin's coiffure, replacing them with a delicately-worked bridal comb discreetly glinting with precious metals and carved stones in the colours of their House. Rin's cheeks are dusted pink when his mother steps back; she gazes up at the pale woman with emotion brimming in her dark eyes, and then gracefully bows her gratitude. His mother has a tiny smile on her lips as she moves aside so that he can step forward to claim his bride.

He extends his hand; Rin lays her slender fingers across his palm, her eyes bright, and he throws a great deal of dignity to the wind as he stoops to kiss her in front of the others. The miko sighs, the hanyou 'kehs'… and his mother chuckles. When he looks at her after savouring Rin's tender response for a sweet moment, she smiles. "Your father did exactly the same thing on our wedding day; he'd be proud of you for carrying on the tradition of scandalizing the Court."

He makes no response to that, still bemused by her unexpected gift to his bride, instead leading Rin through the richly scented garden to the small shrine built against the wall, where they exchange the brief vows that have bound inu-youkai to one another since time immemorial. Their eyes meet in a long, meaningful glance as the ritual concludes, and he knows that he will cherish the memory of this moment in the years to come. As the witnesses sign the scroll that will rest in the family archives, Rin slips her hand into his, and they take their first steps on the path as husband and wife.

His mother queens it over the bridal feast in her role as ranking female, but he cannot find it in his heart to condemn her enjoyment of the fuss she has caused, even though her presence has masterfully diverted full attention from the bridal couple. He glances over at her now and again, his own lip twitching as she elegantly slouches in her throne of state, watching all the goings-on with sardonic humour sparkling in her eyes; he knows that she is storing up gossip to relate at her next social gathering. She takes her leave as the toasts conclude, startling him again when she gravely calls Rin 'daughter' and inclines her head ever so slightly to the girl, a signal honour that flabbergasts several courtiers to the point that sake cups roll across the tatami mats.

He escorts her outside, into the cool evening air; the moon is a silvery crescent glimmering the sea below the cliffs. She fluffs her fur, preparing to transform for flight, when he bows to her, the very picture of a dutiful son.

"This Sesshomaru appreciates the honour of your presence."

Her yellow eyes glow in the darkness, suddenly alive with mischief instead of scorn. "This old woman wants grandchildren, my boy, even if they have those ridiculous ears…I expect to be summoned to watch over her first pregnancy within the next three moons, or I will be very disappointed with you!"

He is still blinking in shock as she laughs gaily, pats his cheek and is gone in a flare of youki. Shaking his head, he watches her disappear into the velvety sky. Mother… Dainty hands link around his wrist, covering the vivid striping, and he looks down into Rin's upturned face, the hair ornament glittering in the torchlight. She smiles and embraces his arm, nuzzling her cheek against the damask of his sleeve, peering up at him with laughter in her eyes. He bends to press a kiss to her forehead. "Are you ready to retire, beloved?" he asks, rubbing his nose-tip along her soft cheek, drinking in her warm scent.

Rin blushes prettily, and drops her eyes. "Y-yes, my lord…"

He hushes her with a swift finger across her lips. "My name, beloved…speak my name."

Her smile shines brighter than any torch. "Sesshomaru."

He catches her in his arm, kisses her breathless, and sweeps her back into the banqueting hall, where he announces their withdrawal from the evening's festivities, and they must endure the sly good wishes of the courtiers. When the senior women move to escort Rin to the bridal chamber, he waves them away, setting off another round of barely muted snickering and loud comments on his eagerness. Rin shrinks against his side, but it is his half-brother's growl that silences the teasing; he casts an acknowledging glance at the hanyou, who huffs and calls for the musicians and dancers to continue.

Out in the shadowed courtyard, he catches her fingertips and kisses each before folding them within his own. She follows his lead willingly, gathering up her layered robes and showing off a length of shapely leg that sends his thoughts straight down another path. She suddenly breaks out into a delighted giggle and skips a step or two…no mean feat in the lacquered lady-like geta she is wearing, she who used to run barefoot through the meadows. Breaking free, she twirls ahead of him, glowing ethereally in the moonlight like a silken butterfly, the hair ornament throwing sparks of light as some of her tresses escape their restraints. He cannot suppress his instinctive response, and gracefully stalks her through the scented night, his studied reserve dissolving now that they are finally alone together without maids or chaperones. Rin momentarily reacts like a startled fawn, stock-still and wide-eyed, and then giggles, bunches her kimono even higher and enters the game, skittering just out of his reach, her eyes bright with merriment.

He captures her at the foot of the stairs leading to the private quarters; pulling her against his chest, he can feel her rapidly beating heart echoing in his own body. In her gaze, the laughter instantly dies, replaced by an emotion more intense; a delicate hand comes up, her thumb stroking lightly over his cheek-stripes, and she raises herself on tip-toe. They kiss lightly at first, then deeply and urgently in the moonlight, until he scoops her into the crook of his arm and rises up the stairs on a cloud of youki. Rin pushes the sliding door aside, then they step over the threshold and past the concealing screens.

A few strategically-placed oil lamps flicker, illuminating the futon canopied and veiled in sheer silk; Rin's eyes grow very wide and her breathing hitches. He presses a kiss to her brow; she leans against him, suddenly-unsteady legs threatening to give way. He wonders if fear is causing her loss of confidence, and mentally winces over some of the stories the women must have told her, of vicious wounds inflicted in the heat of passion, of conquering howls shaking the shiro's battlements…not that some of those stories aren't true, he allows, having a dim memory or two of his own father's voice raised in a triumphant bellow in the darkest hours…but he would never dream of giving way in such an undignified fashion nor endangering his Rin.

He strokes her cheek with his knuckles, his claws curled away from her tender skin, waiting until she meets his gaze. "Do not fear, beloved…no harm shall come to you."

She appears surprised, then relieved; she slips her arms around him and hugs him tightly. "I fear nothing, so long as I am beside you, but…I hope that…I shall not disappoint you." Her cheeks burn, and she buries her face in his chest.

He presses his nose into her hair, avoiding the pendants of the bridal comb and whispers, "Let us learn together, then." She pulls back, plainly startled and regards him with frank curiosity. He winds a stray lock of hair around a long finger and gives her a heavy-lidded look. "Yes, Rin; we shall be both teacher and pupil. I never trusted anyone enough to become intimate with them." She blushes deeply and ducks her head; her heart rate speeds up as she lays gentle hands on his chest. Shrugging the pelt off his shoulder, he tilts her chin up and kisses her softly, keeping her in the kiss until she whimpers a little, her lips parting…and the sensation of her tongue tentatively exploring his mouth begins to chip away at his carefully-maintained control.

Her hands slip down from his chest to his obi and begin to tug on the knot. The smooth silk comes loose and slithers to the floor; she slips her hands inside the neckline of the rich damask kimono and begins to work it off his shoulders. When it drops around his ankles into an indigo pool, he is amused at how she immediately burrows deeper into the layers of silk, undoing ties, parting the material to touch his skin with her warm hands until he is left wearing only his hakama and his tabi. The heavily embroidered silk of Rin's kimono is scratchy when she embraces him, and shyly presses her lips to his bare chest.

Although pleasantly distracted, he begins to fumble with the elaborate obi adorning her slender waist; he is tempted to slice through it with his claws, then remembers the formidable dowager of the court to whom it belongs and restrains himself. Rin leaves off exploring his chest with her fingertips and reaches behind to release the knot. The wide sash tumbles to the floor and the excess lengths of white silk puddle around her feet. Rin glances down at the cloud-like pile and then smiles up at him. He kisses her again, and begins the slow unveiling of her body.

His heart speeds up as he frees the ties holding together her various layers; her breathing is equally rapid. In the dim light of the lamps, her eyes are fathomless as he closes the distance between them, shrouding them in silver as he slides the innermost layer from her shoulders. It slips down her arms and joins the rest as he lays a tender kiss on her shoulder, his fangs lightly scraping her skin. Her shivering response fires his blood even more, and he plucks at the final layer knotted at her hip. She moves to release it herself, but holds the material in trembling fingers for a moment longer before letting it drop to the floor, and she is gloriously, exquisitely, naked before him.

She hesitates, chewing her lip as her cheeks colour; he is almost too entranced by the vision of her golden curves, her soft dark secret places, to notice her embarrassment. It is when she fidgets under his gaze, her fingers twisting into her hair, that he becomes aware of her unease, and swiftly moves to reassure her. He cups the back of her head, tilts up her face and kisses her deeply. When her arms wrap around his waist, he slides his claws into her hair and releases the dark mass from the restraining combs, sending it tumbling down her back. Only the elaborate bridal ornament remains as he tosses the others into the silk at their feet, wondering how her thigh-length hair will feel whispering over his skin.

Rin peers up at him hesitantly before curling her fingers into the waistband of his hakama. He encourages her with soft kisses down her cheek, nipping lightly at her earlobe, resting his own hand on the bare curve of her hip as she works the knot loose and sends the heavy silk cascading to the floor. She hesitates again when faced with his fundoshi, and he quivers with anticipation as she slowly unwinds the strip of linen from around his hips, dropping it to the floor. As he kicks free of the fabric, he is secretly pleased with the small noise of surprise she makes when he is fully revealed, but it is not his erection that draws her fingers to his skin, but the vivid striping curling over his hips. Electrical sensations shiver through him as she traces these highly intimate markings, following their flowing curves until they disappear into the silver fur surrounding the base of his shaft.

When she gently touches the most sensitive part of his body, he closes his eyes and catches himself on the edge of whimpering like a begging pup; he accidentally prickles her hip with his claws as his grip tightens. At her gasp, he glances to see the tiny red dots beading on her skin, and stoops to swiftly sweep his tongue across the injured flesh. His ministrations slow and become more sensual, until he drops to his knees and presses his lips to the tender skin right at the juncture of her hip and thigh. Rin gasps again, but for different reasons, her fingers weaving into his hair as he tracks a path of kisses across her satiny belly. His hand strokes up the back of her thigh and grasps a handful of dark silk as he cups her rear, pressing her body forward against his heated mouth.

Her shiver of delight encourages him, and as he dips his tongue into her nest of short curls she mewls, her hips rocking against him. The sweet sound of her pleasure encourages him in his explorations, becoming surer of himself as her voice and her body gives every sign of positive response. One spot in particular causes her to arch herself into him, and he concentrates his attentions there until she is quivering and gasping, and her knees seem in danger of giving way. He slowly kisses his way back up her warm skin, tasting the sweat sheening her breasts, until she is pressed completely against him.

He lifts her easily; she recovers rapidly from her surprise and wraps her legs around his waist and her arms around his neck, pressing kisses along his collarbone and up his throat as high as she can reach. With an effort, he concentrates long enough to cover the short distance to the enshrouded bed, shoulders the drapery aside, and then slowly collapses to sit cross-legged, Rin held securely in his lap. There is a long moment between them, as they gaze at each other in the lamplight. Her eyes are soft as she cups his face in her delicate hands, outlines his pointed ears, traces down his throat, over his chest, down his torso until she carefully cups his erection pointing upward between them. He kisses the crown of her head, moans in his throat as she begins to stroke and caress the sensitive flesh until he is fairly shaking, and the heat of her core pressed against the base of his shaft is playing havoc with his resolve to go slow, to savour every moment of this with her.

She surprises him when she makes the first move, struggling awkwardly onto her knees to rise over him; he assists by lifting her until his tip is bumping eagerly against her softest flesh. He reaches between them to steady himself, and she blushes furiously as she lowers herself slightly to allow him into her slick entrance. The sensation of being engulfed in liquid heat wrings a deep groan from him, and his hips thrust upward of their own volition, taking him even deeper. She whimpers, hiding her face in his throat, clinging tightly to him. He whispers soothingly, stroking her skin, holding back with an effort, when all his long-repressed instincts are screaming to drive himself into her.

He waits, sweat beading up on his forehead, until she sighs, and a bit of the tension leaves her. Abruptly, she drops her hips, he feels something within her give way and she lets out a small cry. He curls his body around her, whispering endearments, trying to listen for signs of greater pain over the blood pounding through his ears, but she seems to recover from the shock of his entry fairly quickly. Slowly, achingly slowly, she continues to slide down his shaft, containing him within her velvet walls until they are so deeply joined that he dazedly understands what it means to become one with another creature.

She opens her eyes and gazes up at him with an expression of wonder and desire; several locks of his hair are clinging damply to her shoulders. He brushes her bangs out of the way and presses a kiss to her forehead, tasting the sweat. "W-what do we do now?" she whispers, and wriggles a bit, undoubtedly trying to ease the strain on her thighs, but the motion drags a needy moan from his throat. Rin pauses, peers up at him…and does it again.

"Th-that is…enjoyable," he groans through his teeth, cupping her firm behind with his hand, and helping her as she begins to move against him until they find a rhythm…but his body wants more. He leans back, bracing himself with his arm and allows his hips to rise, joining her in this dance; Rin gasps and responds, holding lightly onto his shoulders as she writhes until they are both sweat-slicked, breathing hard and very, very close… He pushes himself back upright, curls his arm around her and holds her tightly to his chest as he twists, bringing her down on the futon beneath him, settling his weight fully between her willing thighs.

He admires her in the softly diffused light, her cheeks flushed, her hair flung wide in a dark halo, and kisses her deeply. Her hands slide into his hair and stroke over his shoulders, surrounding them in a silver veil. Kissing down her throat, his lips hover over her racing pulse, delighting in her soft moans and needy whimpers as he rolls his hips against hers. Quickly finding a rhythm again, they move over and within and around each other, slowly climbing the slope of pleasure until a tightening, coiling sensation deep within their bodies winds tighter and tighter…

He howls when he comes, drowning out Rin's own ragged cry.

In the banqueting hall, more sake is called for, a round of toasts drunk, and the courtiers begin laying bets as to the sex of the heir. The presiding hanyou blushes as red as his fire-rat, and refuses to partake in the stakes.

Under the silken canopy, two warm, exhausted, panting bodies curl around each other. He tucks her protectively against his chest, and skims his hand over her curves, lightly caressing her breast, stroking her hair over her shoulder. She snuggles close, sighs deeply and closes her eyes. "Is it always like that?" she asks softly.

"I do not know; I certainly hope so."

Her breathy giggle puffs over his cooling skin, and she nibbles the sensitive flesh of his throat. There is a moment of silence, and then she leans back so that he can see her face, her eyes gleaming with mischievous desire. "How soon can we do that again…?"

He arches a fine eyebrow; a hint of fang slips out over his lip. "Soon enough, beloved. Rest with me for a while." She nestles back under his chin, slipping her arm around his waist and soon is breathing evenly. He does not sleep, but he is truly contented for the first time in years. His memory wanders back over the pathways that brought her to him, through their shared lives…and then he snorts quietly to himself. No, Mother…most definitely not a mistake…