A/N: Please enjoy this update. As always, please remember that reviews are fuel, particularly descriptive ones.

~Lonelylark

When Kagome brought Sesshoumaru to her world, she had anticipated many things.

Scent and volume overload?

She had earplugs from Inuyasha's visits.

Grandpa's useless ofuda?

She'd perfected her intercepting jump by now.

Souta's penchant for hero worship?

Check.

Destruction of property?

Recalling Inuyasha's introduction and Sesshoumaru's own propensity for violence, she had expected a certain level of damage control. She hadn't counted on Sesshoumaru's maturity and self-restraint, of which he had plenty, and which turned out to be a blessing.

In truth, Sesshoumaru's journey to the modern world had gone much more smoothly than she ever could have imagined. Her mother seemed to adore him (did that woman even know the meaning of "dislike"?), and her grandfather tolerated him well enough (at least, better than he had Inuyasha). Souta wasn't too underfoot. Really, with the exception of her school friends, his reception had been great. While she was relieved by that, she felt proud still that she had prepared so well for his arrival.

There was one thing, however, that she had been completely unprepared for.

Two nights prior, following their shopping escapade, they had been sitting at the dinner table. Her mother had fried the fish they'd bought at the market, which everyone had eaten with gusto. Bowls of rice and soup, vinegared salad and pickled radish lay empty, due in large part to Souta and - surprisingly - Sesshoumaru, who albeit a demon decided to show his appreciation for her mother's efforts in the kitchen.

When the plates were cleared and the tea brought out, Sesshoumaru had turned to her slowly and asked in a deep monotone,

"May I have your hand?"

"Uh, sure." She wasn't sure what he wanted, but figured she should indulge his curiosity.

As she placed her hand into his outstretched one, Kagome couldn't help but feel she'd missed something. Sesshoumaru did nothing but hold her limp hand in his palm, staring at her intensely. It occurred to Kagome that he was waiting for her reaction.

"Uh..."

A subtle crease formed at his brow, and the bow of his lips seemed to fall slightly at the corners. Clearly, that was not what he'd expected, and he stared at her more intensely, clearly frustrated.

"Well.."

'How awkward is this?' Kagome's cheeks burned. 'How do I fix something when I don't even know what he wants?'

A feminine chuckle broke through the trance, and hand still in Sesshoumaru's, Kagome looked at her mother. The hand pressd to her mouth did little to suppress the laughter bubbling through. When Sesshoumaru had asked, the family had gone quiet, but Kagome hadn't realized it in trying to understand the demon.

"Geez, Kagome, is your head broke or something?" Souta snarked from across the table.

"They're both broke," Grandpa said before she could get insenced. "I'm goin' fer a walk."

Seeing Kagome's cheeks flaring with temper at Souta's snort, Mrs. Higuarshi chose to intervene.

"Souta, clear the plates and help me in the Kitchen."

"What?! But mom, I didn't –"

"Don't think I forgot about that call I got from your science teacher. Really, if you want to be a soccer player, I understand, but education…."

The chatter of their voices faded into the kitchen, an easy static that left Kagome very conscious of the strained silence between her and the demon lord.

They were alone now. She glanced at him and tried to relax, despite her worry. Through their time together, she had come to see his many sides and gradually understand the subtle changes of his expressions. The Sesshoumaru-she- knew, versus the Sesshoumaru-she-had-thought- she-knew, had insecurities like everybody else. However, the Sesshoumaru-she-knew hid those well, exuding confidence and decisiveness nonetheless.

This Sesshoumaru was clearly troubled. His glare was set at their joined hands now. He clenched and unclenched his jaw. Clawed fingertips twitched, almost unnoticeably, restless. Rather than wager another paltry answer, she turned her hand over and stroked his own soothingly with her thumb.

At length, letting out a short, frustrated sigh, he pressed her hand to his chest, where she could feel the steady thrum of his heart. 'It's beating fast.' Whether from nerves or natural biological difference she didn't know.

"I do not understand this human tradition," he began abruptly, "but I am told it means essentially that by binding hands we bind our lives to one another." His next words came almost too rapidly. "It seems paltry to me, because in truth I would bind all of you to me; your body, your mind, your heart, not only your hands."

Pausing, he glanced away, and something incredible happened: a light dusting of pink brightened his cheeks.

"I am... proud. I have always been the predator. Yet I have found myself inextricably bound to you, Kagome. The things I can offer are many, as you know, but riches, lands, worldly things come and fade. More than anything, and least of all, I offer myself to you. So it is that I ask if I may have your hand."

When his amber eyes turned a sideways glance her way, they found her bright red.

Kagome felt the heat of her blush, breath suspended.

'Is he really saying...? Oh, my god...he's really...' She thought she would have a panic attack, but then a sense of sweet wonder calmed her.

This was Sesshoumaru - strong, stoic, regal Sesshoumaru. He was a warrior, a diplomat, a lord. He was known as an efficient ruler and brutal killer, whose passions were tightly leashed if they existed at all. Certainly, he was not known for wooing, though Kagome had no doubt he was experienced and highly sought after. She had seen the tenderness he was capable of, both with Rin and with herself. And while she understood the depth of his attraction, she had never - not in a hundred years - expected that he could bear such romantic notions towards her.

That he would vocalize them meant so much more to her.

Sesshoumaru smelled the salt of her tears before they stung her eyes, and for a moment cursed his ineptitude, his lack of education on her culture. It felt to him that lately, all he had done was make her cry. Wiping the trail that streaked down her cheek, he felt her sigh, turning her face into his hand. Soft lips lay a gentle kiss on his palm.

"Oh, Sesshoumaru." With a tremulous smile, she fisted his shirt and dragged his lumbering body into her embrace. "Of course!"

Kaomge didn't scream with joy.

The quietness of her declaration would have been unsatisfying, had she not been clinging to him tighter than ever before, and as her sniffles began to join the tears that wet his shoulder, he realized that they were liquid happiness.

"About time! Is she crying again? What a baby. Ouch!"

Kagome sprung back from Sesshoumaru. There in the doorway stood Souta, rubbing his head next to her mother, who looked exceedingly pleased.

"You knew?"

"Mom was too excited to keep it to herself," Souta quipped smuggly. "Ouch! Mom!"

"Good god, does Ji-ji know?" Kagome groaned, unintentionally shaking the demon lord by his shirt.

At that moment, her grandfather squeezed past the two in the doorway. "It was only a matter of time, after you started bringing that Inuyasha around," he groused. Not sparing them a glance, he hobbled past them to the living room. "A demon in the family, great."

"Lord Sesshoumaru came to speak with me about it," Mrs. Higurashi chose to explain. "Of course, I gave him my blessings." Her eyes twinkled with something more, and Sesshoumaru bowed his head in gratitude. Turning fully to her family in seiza, he cleared his throat.

"I thank you for your hospitality, and your trust. Know that Kagome will be well taken care of. Also, a dowry will be unnecessary."

Souta dropped to his knees with an air of seriousness. "I beg you to reconsider," he implored. "I mean, Kagome is SO MUCH trouble."

A vein throbbed on Kagome's forhead. Out of the corner of his eye, Sesshoumaru saw her eye twitch.

"Really, the least we can do is PAY you to take her off our hands."

"Souta..."

'Really, mom's too soft on him. I'll show'im, though!'

Sesshoumaru's arm pulled her into his side before she could pounce across the table, his hold more restraining than affectionate.

'Damn, he knows me too well.'

"Troublesome though she may be," he drawled lazily, gazing on her with a dark humor in his eyes, "nothing could surmount her value to me."

Immediately, she melted against him, eyes misting. He had found the way to make her putty in his hands, and was doomed.

It was now around 11 pm, and she stood at her bedroom window. It was a quiet, still night, with a large plate of a moon on a cloudless, black tablecloth of a sky. Near the Goshinboku, Sesshoumaru was practicing forms with Tenseiga. She wondered if he was restless or anxious, for tomorrow they would be married, by human standards at least. Her grandfather had relented to perform the Shinto rites for his only granddaughter's wedding. He and Mrs. Higurashi had gone to a relative's to retrieve a family heirloom, and would be staying overnight.

For the first time in what seemed like ages, she and Sesshoumaru were alone. The next few weeks would be hard and possibly violent, she knew. The longer they stayed, the closer they put their friends to danger. Following the ceremony, they would be going through the well. They would have little time, if any, to enjoy their nuptuals.

'Much less...'

Kagome's heart hummed excitedly beneath her breast. Thinking of their nuptials made it almost impossible for her not to think of the next step: consumation.

'I wonder if it got it's name for being such a consuming thought.'

It was a vexing, annoying point that was not made any easier by waching her fiance through the window. The Western Lord had always been a sight, but the snug, modren T-shirt and loose-fitting charcoal sweats enhanced his masculinity. Moonlight spilled over his arms, shadows pronouncing muscle and sinew as he brought the blade down with a forceful, controled swing.

Kagome felt herself heat, her own muscles tightened in anticipation. Involuntarily, she recalled the night by the spring, where Sesshoumaru's passion and instinct had driven him almost to force the mating. She had been slightly terrified then, but she would be a liar if she did not admit how her body had yearned for his touch. She remembered the weight of his body, the strong push of his knees against the back of her thighs, and then, the memory of her first orgasm, ripped from her even before that by the same fingers that now gripped the hilt of a demon sword.

Fear, cold and immobilizing, wormed its way through the soles of her feet like a parasite, chilling her limbs and wrapping around her heart. She wished she could have Sesshoumaru's confidence, but so close to the final battle, she worried. It was feasible that one or all of them could be injured, or not survive.

What if this was their last chance?