Chapter 15

The next day was a flurry of motion, sound, and smells. The demons we were up against had poisoned a few of our youkai, and when I went to go aid with the healing, the smell of festering flesh, blood, sweat, tears, and fur became embedded in my hair, skin, and clothes. Mixed with the smell of the gardens and the manor itself, my nose was kept preoccupied and burning all day. I could only imagine how Sesshoumaru felt. I was also jostled around by various soldiers of various ranks in my own home, bustling to and fro on Sesshoumaru's orders or bringing something, a message or the like, to him. Often, I was pushed into walls. A few times, I didn't even get an "I'm sorry, milady."

Sesshoumaru was usually with me. He knelt next to me in the bloody, smelly healing room while I listened to the dying, hurt moans of the males, the females too proud to let out more than occasional soft whimpers, and tended to those I could. He even offered them encouraging words and regarded them with respect. He kept me at his side at councils of war. I found out that they were planning to drop the demon equivalent of a nuclear bomb in the centre of the enemy camp. It was quite exhilarating, listening to how they were going to accomplish this. Basically, they were going to concentrate half of the army's worth of youki into a timed spell, which Ah-un would drop on the enemy. The other half of the army would be stationed on the walls of the fortress, armed and extremely dangerous. Sesshoumaru and I would be among them. Of course, I had to be fitted out for armor soon, given a new bow, and armed with a dagger that, from a description, was more like a short sword. I knew we would defeat them, but, sitting around, looking at the hurt males and a few females around me, I could not help but think to myself that no matter who conquered, no one would truly "win."

I was sitting on our bed, combing out my hair, when Sesshoumaru walked into our quarters. He looked me up and down. He growled, lowly. It wasn't menacing at all. "Why must you tempt me, Koi?"

I smiled, but I knew it didn't reach my eyes. I took in what I was wearing in the mirror over his shoulder. It was a deep blue silk sleeping kimono, with red, intricate designs all over it. I'd loosely tied it, and I noticed that it was showing more skin than I'd anticipated. It was his favorite. "I didn't really mean to."

He nodded. "You never do." He dropped his armor by the door and came to sit behind me on the bed. He pulled my hair back over my shoulder and gently took the comb from me. "We'll get through this."

The comb began to slide through my hair. Whenever he found a snag he'd go back and pull a bit by bit until it was gone without much pain. I'd always wonder how he kept his hair pristine. He must have a lot of practice at this. "How do you know, love?"

"We've gone through much, much worse." His voice was quiet. "This is a single battle. An attack on our own home. We've gone through entire, centuries long wars before. In my lifetime alone."

"I see."

"We are a great power, my love, a power you're joining. You will be helping me lead this power. You will create the new leaders of this power. You are the future. I think that when this is all over, you will have to be taught on all of this."

I nodded. My head fell back onto his shoulder, and I leaned into his chest. The comb stopped.

His chest rumbled with a chuckle. I felt him shift to put the comb on the bedside table, and then his arms were around me, his nose buried in the crook of my neck. He took a deep breath in, his hair coming forward and shadowing his face, brushing my shoulders lightly. "Mine."

I gave a short laugh and leaned back. "Yours."

The next morning, I woke spooning with Sesshoumaru. It was one of the most comfortable places I had ever woken up, if I do say so myself, even if it was a tad warm. His breath brushed gently over my shoulder, neck, and collar bone with each inhale and exhale. I was quite content to start drifting back off into a deep slumber, but of course, my darling mate just had to go and ruin it for me. As I started to settle back in and relax, Sesshoumaru decided to make his own wakefulness known.

"We need to get out of bed now."

His eyes were still closed, but I could tell now that he was awake. I had missed the too-quick breathing and the slight tense feeling in his forearms and shoulders. I groaned. "Why?"

"Because the battle will continue today, and if I have any say in the matter, today will be the last day."

I sighed.

"We need to prepare you, Kagome."

I sighed again. If this continued, he'd have me going on even worse than when I was a hormonally driven angsty teenager combating a freak of nature at Inuyasha's side. His name still brought a pang of pain to my heart. Sesshoumaru noticed, but didn't say anything. I thanked him for that. "What will I be doing today?"

"Your schedule consists of fitting for a breastplate, greaves, and something more wieldy in battle than a kimono, as well as choosing a bow, and being gifted with the dagger."

"Gifted with the dagger? Can't I just choose one from the armory?" I asked.

"There is one already made for you, Kagome. It has been waiting for you since I turned 14 hundred years old," there seemed to be a tad of wry humor in his voice. "It has become… lonely."

I frowned. "What kind of dagger is this? Something like Bakusaiga, Tetsusaiga, and Tensaiga?" I asked.

"Nothing that powerful. It was made from my fang as a pup, to be given to a mate when she was marked so that it could defend her as an extension of me should the need ever arise. It's just a normal dagger with a few –what do you call them?—ah yes, perks."

I shrugged. "Alright."

Sessh slid out of bed. "Time to rise, my dear. I will meet you outside when you are dressed to take you to the blacksmith. They will have your armor mostly ready, in need of only a few minor adjustments."

I nodded against the pillow of my arms, but didn't get up.

"Kagome…" Sesshoumaru's voice was a warning, his tone nearly slipping into that of the old, cold him.

I slid my feet over the edge of the bed until my toes touched the warm rug that separated me from the cold stone. "I'm up. I'll be out in a moment."

Sesshoumaru nodded. I dressed quickly in one of the kimonos that the staff had laid out. The obi was tied for me by a quiet maid that seemed to appear from out of nowhere. I thanked her and walked out, leaving her astonished in my wake. They could think I was crazy to thank them, I would not stop.

I ran into Sesshoumaru, literally, right outside our door. "Glad to see that you are ready," he told me, then began to stride down the hall. He was all business when we were out and about like this. I remained behind him to his right, ever silent, ever present, ever obedient, at least as far as the others knew. The clutter of people trying to get from one leader to another parted like snow in front of the plow when we walked through. It made me feel self-conscious. Soon, we were down in the main town part of Sesshoumaru's castle. I began to realize that the manor or palace or whatever it pleases you to call it was just a part of his home here. There was a settlement of youkai within the fortress walls, living in relative safety. A few of these people turned out to be blacksmiths.

One of them gestured us over. She pulled me into the back behind a partition. "Take your kimono off," she muttered gruffly.

I undid the obi and slid the garment down my shoulders. Standing there in my underwear made me feel self conscious, but I waited. The female went into the main room and came back with a breast plate, made to follow the exact form of a woman. It looked like something out of a geek's wet dream. She put it on me and took note of wear it was too big and too small, then grabbed it and went back into the main area. When she came back, it fit perfectly against my skin. "It has to pull tight against your kimono. So it doesn't allow space for something to slip in. That's why we fit you like this. If you weren't a Lady, we'd just give you standard issued fittings, unless you were an extreme case, but you have to be more protected than most of our bitches."

I nodded. "Thank you."

The female looked at me oddly. "You're welcome. I thought they'd been lying."

I tilted my head.

"You really do things out of the ordinary for your station."

I shrugged. "I wasn't born a lady, and I'm not sure I'll ever truly be what you all expect…" I winked at her. "I guess it'll just make me fun to have around."

She chuckled and left. I dressed and went out to meet Sesshoumaru.

He glanced at me once before turning and leading me off to another part of the castle. Along the way, he handed me a bow and a decorative quiver of arrows. I tried not to slow down while I adjusted everything in my arms. Eventually, we ended up in the same wing as where our bedroom was. This part of the manor was always less busy than everywhere else, but it was only today that I really looked around. There were… not necessarily paintings, but pictures from all different ages and genres, of what I can only assume was Sesshoumaru's ancestors. There was one of his Mother and father holding a baby and a ball of fluff. I quickly realized that was Sesshoumaru.

He kept walking down the hall, taking his time. I felt more like he was consciously giving me time to gawk. My suspicions were confirmed when he sent me a slight smile over his shoulder. How could anyone ever find that expression scary?

Eventually, we came to a door just a few feet away from ours. Sesshoumaru opened the door. When I walked in, it was pitch dark, no windows in this room. He lit a candle near the door, and the room was just bright enough to see in. It was a bare room, with just a few chests and shelves in it. Sesshoumaru's storage room, I presumed. Sessh took me by the hand and lead me towards the back, where, tucked away in a corner, there was an ornate chest. He lifted the lid and pulled out a dagger.

"This was forged from one of my fangs when I was still a young boy. Only my mate, my pups, and I can touch it, much less use it, without being seriously injured."

I took it from his outstretched hands, and he handed me the belt and sheath that it belonged with. I tested it and strapped it on. Sesshoumaru took my hand and began to lead me to our rooms.

"Come, I want you to rest before this last battle. I'll wake you when it is time," he murmured in my ear, planting a kiss right above it.

I nodded. I knew I would need the rest. "When will the battle be?"

"It'll start just before dawn."

I grimaced. "Tomorrow is going to be a long day."