A Whisper in the Wind

Author's Note: Alright, loves, before you read anything, I would like to say that Kouga/Kagome is (besides a good Miroku/Sango or Kouga/Sango) my favorite Inuyasha pairing! It probably has something to do with how pretty their babies would be someday, ya know? Inuyasha, while being cute in his own right, just wouldn't do Kagome's pretty babies justice! Besides, wouldn't Kagome just l o v e being the Ookami Queen? I'd love it, especially with Kouga-kun involved!

But I'm straying from the point. The setting is three years after the completion of the Shikon Jewel and it assumes that Kagome wished to undo the destruction Naraku had caused. This would mean that Kikyo is now alive and well, not to mention that the Bone Eater's Well sealed itself. Unfortunately for Kagome, she's trapped on the wrong side in Feudal Japan for the rest of her life. But there's nothing really new here; most stories anymore seem to assume those circumstances.

Chapter One

Kagome wondered, for probably the hundredth time that evening, just how it was that she had gotten herself into this situation. Here she was, walking along a slightly overgrown path through a rather unknown forest, not worrying or caring where it was that she ended up.

'Just get away,' her mind breathed over and over. 'Buy a little time for yourself. You've got to be alone right now.'

It was dark in the forest, though the sun hadn't quite set yet. There were clouds gathering in the sky, hiding the thousands of glittering stars from her. The storm was coming; it was miles away but still holding onto today. But who could have blamed it? Wasn't fate playing some cruel joke by cursing Kagome's luck on her wedding night?

Lifting her arms to the sky as she stepped into a small clearing; Kagome began spinning, humming softly the lullaby that he had so often sung for her. It was peaceful, the sound of her soft humming mixing with the gentle rustle of summer leaves in the wind.

Kagome was on her back, looking up at the darkened clouds, before she'd even finished the lullaby. There was a bit of uncertainty about when it was that she had actually ended up falling down, but figuring that out was one of the furthest questions from her mind. She let the sweet smell of the flowers she was now lying in wash over her, hiding her scent from those who might have been wandering. And she made careful note to ignore the voice calling for her.

For all of the times when she had needed him, would have begged for him to be there for her, why was it now that he chose to care? Now, when she was busy trying to convince herself that she no longer needed him? He'd broken her heart just moments before; did he regret his decision now? Did it pain him to think that he might be losing her forever?


She mentally pleaded for him to turn away, to go back to the village. She needed this time to herself. There was something she knew that she had to do; something that didn't require his help.

He had already exhausted himself to her.

She inhaled deeply the smell of the lovely lavender blossoms that surrounded her. The smell brought her back to the places where life was so much easier, to the times where she was loved and needed. And she felt the tears forming at her eyes as she wished in vain to be there again.

'Mama,' her mind pleaded as she wrapped her small arms around her frail and shaking figure. Breathing now seemed such a hard activity as she began to adjust to the pressure building in her chest. Her heart hammered against her rib cage, reminding her that she was still alive. She was still worth something. 'Mama..."

The tears came quickly, flowing unbidden; unwanted. But the salty orbs fell from the corners of her eyes and were caught near her ears, cooling slightly in the stormy breeze. Kagome couldn't remember the last time that she'd cried. In her life, so far, she'd seen so many things. Nothing was a shock to her; nothing anymore.

She could vaguely remember a time when the sight of blood could make her head spin, when the anguished cries of a woman who'd lost her husband could make her heart break, when the very thought of being alone made her shiver inside. But all of those feelings were not so clear to her anymore. Her memories, her feelings, were lost in the misty fog of her past; a place she knew she could never return. 'Mama, what should I do now?'

She drew in a breath, no longer thinking of the voice still searching for her, and began to hum again. This time it was her mother's lullaby; a song that she had heard so many times in her childhood that it might have fused with her very being. It was soft at first, a faint whisper in the wind. But as she went on, remembering just what this song was, the tears fell faster and the sounds came to her with much greater ease.


She stopped her humming, wiping the tears away from her eyes. There was silence for a very long while as the beautiful raven-haired angel paused to collect herself before finally speaking, "You've followed me a long way, Inuyasha."

He was silent this time, just the breeze rushing through the leaves above their heads could be heard. The clouds continued to gather, the flowers continued to smell. Everything was still moving, the world still flittering along at its own pace.

But she was still lying broken in a field of lavender and soft humming. Her own song, her own music.

"Kagome I didn't-"

"Shh!" she whispered smoothly, sitting up to look at the young man in front of her. "I know."

His silver hair glistened in the dim moonlight and his amber eyes shined down at the beautiful woman in front of him. She wasn't his woman and he wasn't her man. It was a decision that he had made for her so easily just moments before.

"You weren't supposed to find out like this!" he blurted it out quickly this time, thinking should he not, Kagome would interrupt him once again. Then, more slowly, he added, "I said a lot of things I didn't mean; I-I was just... afraid-of what you would think."

His voice was weaker than she could ever remember hearing; cracking in all of the right places to let her know that he wasn't really telling her the truth. He had rehearsed this the entire time he had been searching for her. Kagome would have given anything to send him away, to keep his voice from reaching her ears.

"It's ok," she offered him her best smile, knowing that all of the tears from her eyes were no longer visible but the trail they had left on her porcelain cheeks were obvious. Their scent was sharp enough to cut through the intoxicating scent of lavender.

If he'd sensed her lie, he hadn't let on. Instead he continued, "I never wanted to hurt you."

'Its not like you never have before,' her mind challenged. But she knew that wasn't the attitude to have right now. Bitterness was not going to solve anything. Inuyasha had already made his decision and having followed her was only making the situation much more painful than it needed to be.

"Kagome," he paused. "We found the shards. Our job is done now; why are we still fooling ourselves like this?"

But the look on Kagome's face told him that had been the wrong thing to say. She let her eyes fall to the elaborate patterns in her wedding kimono and then let her eyes find their way to his one last time. She was searching for something and when she finally found it, she answered, "That's Kikyo talking, not you."

Again, silence filled the small forest clearing, interrupted only by the occasional rumble of thunder from the distance. Racing through Kagome's mind were the images that she'd grown accustomed to seeing so often. Inuyasha in the clearing, holding Kikyo in his arms, whispering his heart's desires to her. This time, however, there wasn't the same tinge of jealousy that such thoughts often brought to her. Instead, she felt nothing; emptiness.

'I guess I knew all along,' she felt the familiar tinge of regret in her heart; scolding herself for not having realized the facts of her relationship with Inuyasha earlier.

"I'm going," he stood, crossing his arms over his chest. His voice and attitude had returned to normal. He really hadn't changed in the three years that had passed since the jewel had been completed. He was still the same Inuyasha, insensitive to her feelings. "Aren't you?"

She laid down again in her spot in the flower field and let her eyes gaze into the few stars that were visible. Folding her hands delicately to lay across her smooth abdomen, she answered softly, "No, you go ahead without me."

He left the clearing without another word and, should he have picked up the scent of her tears on the wind, he hadn't returned. Perhaps it was that he no longer cared. Inuyasha had made his choice and it hadn't been her.

Kagome picked one of the lavender blossoms near her head and twirled it between her fingers. She was transfixed with its beauty, the way the soft petals felt against her face, how sweet it smelled pressed against her cheek.

'For all of the times when I'd needed him,' her mind echoed. 'Begged for him to be there for me, why was it now that he chose to care? Now, when he was too late to heal the wounds in my heart?'


He was silent, knowing full well what he'd just done to the lovely raven haired Kagome. And on what was to have been their wedding night, no less. He had just broken her heart; ruined forever every trace of the relationship that they had slowly formed over the years that they had known each other. There was not even the remote possibility of friendship left for the pair.

She'd looked so beautiful in the smooth white kimono with a silk floral pattern woven into the fabric. The silver trim and obi had gone together magnificently; it was all he could do not to let his jaw fall to the ground when he saw her. Her hair was fitted away from her neck with small lily of the valleys tucked elegantly into the elaborate tangle of hair. Inuyasha had told her quickly, having been slightly caught off guard by her beautiful appearance. He didn't want to change his mind, not again. He told himself over and over that this was what was better for both of them.

He had realized that the feelings between them were strictly convivial; hadn't she?

"Kagome," he whispered her name, not looking into her eyes. "I'm sorry, but I can't do this anymore. There's s-someone else."

She hadn't yelled, hadn't cried, like he had been expecting. He had even been foolish enough to believe that she had realized that their relationship had its flaws. But instead she stood there, looking at him thoughtfully. His ears drooped as he told her the news and she tried to hold back a small, bitter smile. Now was not the time.


"Yes," his voice trailed off. He wasn't surprised that she had known. Maybe she had known all along and he was just fooling himself.

But her voice cracked, giving away her façade of strength, when she answered, "Inuyasha, I'm leaving for awhile. Please don't follow."

He'd watched her walk into the forest, giving her a bit of a head start before he finally decided to follow her. Something was bound to happen to her when she wasn't on her guard. The shards had been collected but there were still demons roaming the lands.

So he followed her into the forest. He knew very well that she had wanted to be alone. But, should anything happen to her now, it would be on his conscious.


Kagome had removed her wooden sandals and the socks that had covered her delicate feet. She'd also taken the lily of the valleys out of her hair and replaced them with her lavender blossoms. Her hair fell loose down her back, blowing gently in the wind. Tonight wasn't her wedding night. In her heart she'd known for a long time that it wouldn't be.

She'd always been confused by her feelings for Inuyasha. Sure, she loved him, there wasn't any doubt about that. But there was something inside of her heart that knew he didn't return her love; and that same part wouldn't let her give herself to him completely, knowing well that heartache would be all she received in return. There were other men that made her heart skip a beat, Inuyasha's brother, Sesshomaru, was an example of this. But Kagome knew that it wasn't love. Right now, love was fickle; something that existed only in fairy tales. It was something that she knew she didn't deserve; this was not her time, the future was not hers to write. She was displaced, scared and alone in a strange land that her presence meant nothing to.

Leaving the articles of her clothing in the clearing, Kagome continued to walk, listening as the thunder grew slowly louder and lightning began to light up the night sky. The storm was finally here. And she was heading straight for its center.

Before she had gone too much further from the clearing, Kagome began to smell salt water. It was the ocean, undoubtedly. And she nearly doubled her pace to make it there; she had to see it. The cliff she found herself on top of was tall, looking to be at least one hundred meters from the rocks below. There was grass on the hill, sand below, a perfect testament to the ever changing yet constantly meshing landscape of Japan. She smiled; it would be such a long fall.

'Just one more step off,' her mind coaxed her. 'And you'll forever be taken away from this cruel world.'

Tears formed at her eyes as she listened to her mind, telling her to jump, to end her life. Wasn't there still so much that she had to live for?

'But what do you have? Inuyasha left you. Lord Sesshomaru never wanted you and Lord Kouga has already announced Ayame as his mate,' her mind had told her the truth. "There is nothing left, Kagome. No prince charming for the Miko Princess."

She had been mocked by her own mind. Something she wasn't used to experiencing. She listened as she continued to berate herself. And she had to admit that as the list of reasons to end her life grew so did the tears that fell from her eyes.


It was going to storm soon, he knew. And that, perhaps, was the reason for his desperation to find something: shelter. He picked up his pace, knowing well that his two loyal followers were very far behind.

'They're on their own tonight,' his mind echoed.

He stopped for a moment to sniff the air. Somewhere nearby there was a forest; surely there would be shelter for him there. He headed in the direction of the scent but stopped not more than five steps later to take in the lovely scent of lavender mixed with salt; not the salt from the ocean but from tears.

Deciding to investigate, Kouga changed his course and headed towards this new scent. Whoever it was might have shelter for the evening. It was too dangerous to be out in this storm; and it was that hope that drove him onwards.

The rain began falling, slowly at first, as he continued in this new direction. He had to hurry, before the storm got any worse. And finally, he saw her, the young woman whose tears were now falling as company to the rain. And she looked so beautiful, standing with her back to the wolf prince, oblivious to the fact that he was watching over her. Kagome's raven black hair, though wet and matted to her face by the rain, shined with the crystal droplets. The white kimono she wore was soaked, but the way the silk woven into it reflected back towards him with every flash of lightning made his breath catch in his throat.

The wind was beginning to pick up. It was too dangerous for her to be standing so close to the cliff's edge. But Kouga could only watch as she reached for the lavender blossom in her hair and held it out in front of her, over the cliff.

She began humming softly as she released the blossom and watched it toss and tumble towards the rocky bottom below. She sensed someone watching her and turned her head slightly to look at the figure behind her, thinking it was Inuyasha.

"Go home," her voice was cold. "If you follow me I'll never forgive you."

'Kagome!' his mind screamed. 'Why is she here? This was her wedding night and she is surely married to that inukkoro by now.'

But his heart caught in his throat as he watched her spread her arms to her sides and inhale as she let her body fall over the cliff. He was helpless. And, without thinking he ran to the edge and jumped after her, "Kagome!"

Somewhere mid fall, she had turned and fell with her eyes searching the top of the cliff. Her heart was racing with regret as she realized what it was that she had done. But the fear clinging to her was so strong that she wasn't able to speak; she didn't scream. Instead, she closed her eyes, trying to accept the decision she had made for herself. But her eyes opened one last time, begging to see just a few more instants of the life she was leaving.

And she saw the man jump after her. But it wasn't Inuyasha that had followed her down; it was Kouga.

'He won't make it in time,' her mind echoed. And Kagome accepted this fact. She let her arms fall out to her sides, ready to accept her end.

But impact never came. Instead, two strong arms wrapped around her waist and she felt her body pressed against the well muscled chest of Kouga. When she finally opened her eyes they were on the beach, the rain still falling, both completely soaked from the storm.

He held her delicate body in his arms, not ready to put her down. That had been close, far too close. He'd almost lost his beautiful Kagome forever.

"Dammit!" she screamed, pounding her fists against his chest to make him release her. Anger wasn't really the emotion that she had wanted to be expressing to the beautiful wolf demon that had risked his life to save hers. But she was hurt, and still so confused by what had happened. "God dammit! What did you do that for?"

"Kagome," he took her fists in his in an attempt to calm her. His eyes looked hurt, and honestly, they were.

Staring up at him made her heart ache. And the sobs began again. She pulled her fists from Kouga's strong hands and covered her face with her palms.

Kouga wasn't sure what had happened but he would be damned if he didn't kill that ungrateful hanyou for this. Here was Kagome, crumbled in his arms, when she should have been happier than she had ever been at any moment of her entire life. And the fact that that bastard hanyou would take something so precious away from her made his blood boil.

Without another word, Kouga cradled her in his arms and began to walk towards a nearby cave. She hadn't noticed, or if she did, she hadn't protested. Once inside Kouga sat her down on the smoothest portion of the cave floor and began to search for something to start a fire.

But of course there was nothing and, had there been, there was no flint to start the fire. Kagome's travel bag was long forgotten in Kaede's village, he was fairly certain. So the two faced one another in the darkness of the cave; tears in Kagome's eyes and rage in Kouga's.

He couldn't say exactly how long it had been that they had been facing each other before he could take it no longer. She hadn't stopped crying since he'd brought her inside. And her kimono, though thick in its own right, had to be uncomfortably wet.

"Shh!" he slid his body next to hers and wrapped an arm around her shoulder. To this action she responded by burring her face in his armor and crying even harder.

"I'm sorry," she sobbed over and over. "I'm so sorry, Kouga."

He hadn't expected her to apologize; she didn't really need to in his opinion. So Kouga reacted by stroking her wet hair and rubbing her back lightly.

She began to calm down a little after a while. And then Kouga finally thought it safe to speak once again.

"Kagome," his voice was so soft, comforting. "I hate to see you so upset. What's the matter?"

She sniffed a little and wiped her nose on her sleeve. It didn't matter how important this garment was; for Kagome, it was all bad news and heartbreak. Her eyes looked deep into his, admiring the beautiful sky blue color.

"You could have died," she whispered.

"So could you," his voice trailed off.

Choosing to ignore this comment, she looked to the floor and added, "Saving me was dangerous. And, if something had happened to you, where would that have left Ayame?"

He raised an eyebrow and lifted her face level with his. One of his strong hands were holding hers and his other gently removed some of the tears still clinging to her cheeks. There was a slight smile on his face and a kindness in his eyes that Kagome had only ever known from him.

"Honestly," he paused. "I think she'd be fine right where I left her."

Kagome seemed not to notice as his hands found their way to her obi and began to gently remove it from her waist. The rain falling on sand outside the cave overtook the silence. And before long, Kagome's kimono and obi were lying discarded on the floor. All that she now wore was a silver silk under robe which was much drier than her kimono had been.

"Its too cold for you to be wearing a wet kimono," Kouga explained. "Even if it did look stunning."

Kagome wasn't really paying him much attention, however. She was still focused on his last comment. Her mind wondered, 'Where he last left her?'

"Kouga?" her voice was soft, echoing off of the cave walls in the sweet singsong tone that Kouga had grown to love. "Why?"

There were still tears clinging to the edges of her eyes. He offered her a weak smile, showing that he hadn't quite understood what she was asking. Kouga gently brushed the tears from her eyes and held her body to his in an embrace that he'd been waiting so long to give her.

"Why would he pick her before me?" Kagome's breath caught in her throat as another sob struggled to free itself from her lips.

"Kagome," he pulled away from her to look into her eyes. "No! He didn't."

His voice was shocked; his reaction causing her to sob once again. She couldn't speak and only nodded her head against his shoulder. Kouga rocked her back and forth in his arms, his hatred for the hanyou growing with each of Kagome's sobs and each of her falling tears.


Eventually she cried herself to sleep. She'd been crying for hours as the storm raged on outside of the cave they were to share for the night. Kagome had cried until there were no more tears, no more energy to let them fall, no more sadness to keep her heart broken.

Her head was resting in his lap and Kouga couldn't help but brush the tangles and knots out of her long locks of ebony hair with his fingers. In her sleep you wouldn't have been able to tell that she had been so upset just moments before. Her features were beautiful, angelic.

In fact, in her sleep she appeared to be just the opposite of sad. There, through the darkness, Kouga couldn't help but make out the faint hints of a smile on her serene face. Perhaps it was from her dream but Kouga couldn't help but pray that he had had at least a little something to do with putting that smile there.

For as long as he could remember he'd always been in love with her. Real love; not way he felt about Ayame, not the way his father had felt about his own mother. Ever since his pack had accepted her as one of their own he'd been in love. And, though it had all started out wrong, with him kidnapping her from her fellow travelers, Kouga knew that she'd always felt something for him, too. It was in the way she looked at him. It was in the way she spoke to him. Her patience with him and her ability to make him always smile, even when he'd sworn revenge on Naraku for nearly annihilating half of his pack. There was something about Kagome that made her so different from any other woman, human and demon alike, that he had ever encountered.

The storm was still raging full force once she started to toss and turn in her sleep. She'd started slowly, turning from her left side to her right. But as the tossing and turning grew worse, Kouga realized that she was having a nightmare.

Her cheeks were flushed and she seemed to be sweating lightly. From all of movement, her under robe was tangled in her legs, exposing soft white calves and delicate little feet.

Picking her up in his arms Kouga stroked her hair and rocked her back and forth. The whole time he whispered, "Shh! I'm here, Kagome. It's ok. I'm here."

"Inuyasha," she murmured.

Kouga ran a hand across her forehead to feel her burning with fever. This wasn't good, he knew. It was still hours before morning and the storm showed no signs of letting up. The wold prince knew absolutely nothing of medicine. That had always been her strong point, not his. But now she needed him. This was his first chance to protect her; to do the things that he'd always accepted that the hanyou would do.

Kouga's mind raced, 'Do I go get help? But I can't take her out in this storm; and I certainly can't leave her here alone.'

Faintly, he could remember being sick with a fever himself, once. Long ago, after playing in the rain with his father he'd come home to a terrible fever. He remembered his mother wrapping him tightly in a blanket for warmth and wiping his face softly with wet towels. But here, there was nothing; no blanket, no towels. There certainly was a lot of water, but the cold substance was certainly to blame for the change in his lovely Kagome. Kouga turned his attention to Kagome's wedding kimono. It had dried slightly and would be his best bet for a blanket.

He covered her quickly, resting her head, once again, in his lap. She'd calmed down from her nightmare but her breathing was still forced and ragged.

"Don't worry, Kagome," he brushed her hair away from her face. "I'm not going to let anything happen to you."

"Inu… yasha," she whispered again. "I have… to go…"

Kouga was baffled by her words. Was she still dreaming? Or did she think that he was Inuyasha? He decided to play along to find out.

"Kagome," he whispered, touching her shoulder. "Don't go."

"I have to," her voice trailed off again.


The first part of what she said was muffled by sleep but Kouga did understand the second part. "Don't love you anymore."

He felt his heart beating heavily within his chest. Cautiously, Kouga checked to see that her eyes were still closed; she was dreaming. Then he questioned her, "Who is he? I swear I'll-"

"Kouga," she whispered faintly. Then she turned slightly, murmuring something more before he could understand her again, "Mmm, you understand."

"Kagome!" his exclamation was one of shock, hidden behind a mere whisper of her name. The wolf prince was about to pull her into his arms before he caught himself; she hadn't confessed that to him. She was still dreaming.

She let out a soft moan Kouga did pull her into his lap. He was holding her up by placing a strong hand behind her back, letting her head rest gently on his shoulder. He could feel her warmth, barely, as she was very cold. He took a deep breath as he watched her eyes slowly blink open. She looked straight into his concerned face.

"Kouga?" her face paled.

"Yes, Kagome, what is it?" he pressed her on, supporting her weight in one arm and holding her hand in the other.

"So cold," she brought her hand to cautiously touch his armor.

He could see the goose bumps on her skin and his heartbeat quickened again. She was so delicate, so frail, in his arms. But he knew that he had to protect her; protect her like he'd always promised he would.

"I know," he held her close to him. "I'm so sorry."

His arms felt warm against her body and she snuggled into his embrace. Kouga couldn't help but blush as she buried her face into the crook of his neck. She sighed and let her body relax against his.

"But you're warm," she whispered innocently. He could tell that she was still tired; half asleep. And he knew that, under most circumstances, what he was about to do would be wrong. But Kagome needed him. And he had promised to look after her. Laying her lithe form on the ground, Kouga quickly removed the armor plate on his chest and laid his body next to hers. Lifting the kimono only momentarily to allow for himself to lie closer to Kagome, Kouga pulled her into his warm arms.

"Forgive me for this, Kagome," he whispered, as she rested her head on his shoulder and snuggled closer to him.

Once he felt her body relax into his he knew she was sleeping. And he kissed the top of her head so softly. Her body felt so nice wrapped in his arms. Kouga knew that it would be hard for him to explain this to her in the morning but, in time, he knew that she would forgive him.

"I love you, lady; I have always loved you," he whispered into her soft hair. "I have abhorred that hanyou for three long years because he was allowed to lie beside you while I was not. He doesn't realize what he is losing, Kagome; he never realized the treasure he found in you. If you could only realize how long I have dreamed of the moment when I would be allowed to take care of you..."

There was silence, save for the sound of crashing waves and a raging storm outside. Finally, Kouga closed his own eyes and prepared for sleep. But he was startled by the sound of a small voice from beside him.

"Do you really mean that?" her soft brown eyes looked up at him begging for an answer.

"Kagome?" he looked straight into her eyes, smiling a little as he brushed a smooth hand across her cheek. He didn't seem to be too embarrassed about his recent confession. "I thought you were asleep."

Blinking a few times, Kagome lowered her gaze, "I'm sorry, Kouga, for hearing what I shouldn't have been listening to."

"No, Kagome," he shook his head, rubbing the small of her back with his free hand. "I do mean that."

"But what about Ayame?" her voice was quiet and her heart was racing as she waited for his answer. Kagome wasn't really sure what she wanted to hear from Kouga. Would it make her feel better to think that Kouga had broken Ayame's heart? Was there comfort waiting for her if she were to find out that there was another beautiful young woman out there who had her own heart broken?

"What about her?" he snapped Kagome out of her thoughts.

Letting her eyes fall to his bare chest she stated what was, at that moment, one of her worst fears, "Don't you love her?"

"What would give you that idea?"

"You announced not long ago that she was to be your mate," Kagome stopped and looked into his eyes, searching for a glimmer of honesty. She couldn't ever trust herself with another man who might hold a special place in his heart for another woman. Kagome would never let another man have the choice to break her in the same way that Inuyasha had. She would be smarter, she would be stronger. Her voice was still quiet, however, when she spoke, "I thought the two of you would have already-"

"Who told you that?" he exclaimed, cutting her off. His eyes flashed like the lightening outside, considering that someone might have been trying to sabotage him.


Her eyes fell from his again but he gently lifted her chin to look into her eyes. He gave her a small smile and pulled her into his arms.

"It wasn't true," he whispered. "I would have waited for you forever."

And, somehow, Kagome could tell that Kouga was telling her the truth. She had been breaking his heart for three years while she had been waiting on Inuyasha to realize that he really was in love with her. It made sense, at least, that he wouldn't be lying to her now.

"Kouga," she buried her face in his chest. He could feel her still feverish cheeks against his chest and he pulled her close again.

"You need your rest," he whispered. "Now, sleep. I'll watch over you, lady."