Rin was sitting on a rock that was hanging over a pool of water, watching her reflection as she combed her hair in the style she had learned from Kagome two summers ago. It was a complex style, and Rin felt that there were moments when a third hand would be very helpful, but eventually she had everything in place as she remembered Kagome showing her. According to the older woman, it was a style that would hint at being slightly provocative and alluring, and Rin should only do her hair in this fashion when she had found a male – Kagome had said a male, not a man or a demon, just a male – whose attention she wanted to capture. Now sixteen, Rin was of an age when marriage was expected to either have recently happened, or to occur in the near future. For herself though, Rin only had eyes for her lord, though she was well familiar with his opinion of humans. Nevertheless, she hoped that the glances she had noticed him sending her way were indicative of a change of mind, or perhaps even of heart.
Her hair properly in place, Rin carefully drew on the clothes that Sesshoumaru had once said looked well on her. It was the only garment he had ever given her that he had commented on in such a way. Rin hoped that together with the way her hair was drawn up so carefully, and the rice powder Kagome had given her for her face, as well as the flowers she had crushed into her bathwater before her preparations began, her lord's beautiful eyes would linger on her for longer than just a brief glance.
Where was that girl? Jaken was pacing around the evening campfire impatiently. She had left an hour ago to cleanse herself, and while the toad imp would never be satisfied with the level of cleanliness the human reached – they were always filthy, in his opinion, even if they had scrubbed thoroughly and had yet to leave the water – she should not be taking so long about herself. It wasn't proper for a lowly human to take such time to bathe when Lord Sesshoumaru had so graciously killed a rabbit, and ordered Jaken to prepare it.
"Jaken, take the bags from Ah-Un's back. We shall rest here for three days," the demon lord said from the tree line, returning from the brief patrol he had made to ensure the safety of the campsite.
The small green demon abruptly stopped pacing and scurried to do as he was bid, unrolling sleeping mats, raising cloth covers and relieving the two-headed horse-lizard of its saddle and the few other belongings the small group had. Rin's bag was absent, but then, so was the girl herself.
"Where is that girl?" Jaken grumbled as he pulled the last bag from Ah-Un's back.
"What was that Jaken?" Sesshoumaru asked, his tone quietly demanding an answer from his noisome vassal.
"Rin has been some time about her bath, milord. She left before you did, and is yet to return," Jaken answered bowing deeply. "I was merely wondering what could be keeping her so long."
Sesshoumaru's eyes narrowed. He knew the imp was impatient with the human girl, rather than concerned for her well being, but such was not the case with him. Over the years Rin had been following him, he had become fond of her presence, however much he may deny it, and was always concerned with her health and safety.
If she does not return soon, then I shall fetch her. He decided to himself, just as a rustle came from the foliage that was barely beyond the light of the fire. Her scent arrived in the air just as she stepped into the glow of the fire light.
Her skin was as pale as his hair, though her lips were as red as a drop of fresh blood on snow. Her long black hair was elegantly swept up to expose her neck, revealing the skin there in all its delicacy. A floral scent beyond that which was usually part of her scent hovered about her, and she was wearing his favourite kimono, the cream one that had his personal emblem stitched carefully around the collar and sleeves in deep pink, tied with the matching obi, the one that was the same colour as his emblem on her gown.
"Rin!" Jaken exclaimed, the offence clear in his voice. "What is the meaning of you taking so long to wash, only to return with your face so impudently painted?" the toad demanded. "And what nonsense have you done with your hair?" he continued loudly.
Rin bowed her head, fighting tears at Jaken's exclamations. She had spent a lot of time to alter her appearance, yes, and she thought she had done a good job, just as Kagome had instructed her, but perhaps she had not done so well after all.
"Silence Jaken," Sesshoumaru said. "Rin has behaved correctly."
Her heart thudded in her chest and for a moment she forgot to breathe before reminding herself to take slow breaths.
"Forgive me milord, but I do not understand," Jaken pleaded, turning from scolding the human who was now three times his height to cowering before the dog demon who was taller yet and whom he followed.
"No, you do not. You will take Ah-Un and continue up the mountain, Jaken. There is a cave with a waterfall inside. Until I come for you, that is where you will remain," Sesshoumaru instructed his vassal coldly.
Jaken nodded sadly and did as he was told, leaving the warmth of the fire, as well as the presence of his master and the troublesome human he kept with them.
When Jaken's scent grew weaker, Sesshoumaru drew his eyes from watching where the imp had disappeared through the trees and turned them towards Rin.
Not raising her head, Rin obeyed, as demurely as she knew how. Kagome had instructed her on her behaviour as well as makeup and hairstyle that week two summers ago when they had been kidnapped by some very foolish bird demons. When Sesshoumaru and InuYasha had caught up, the fight hadn't lasted very long, but the week spent with Kagome had been very informative to the then fourteen-year-old girl. Now she was standing before her lord, head bowed, hoping that she had the hairstyle correct and that she had chosen flowers that he liked the smell of.
"This Sesshoumaru is pleased with Rin," he said, though he did not touch her in any way, and there was still a two feet between them.
"Rin is content to have pleased her lord," she answered, being particular about the formalities Kagome had talked about. "Rin wishes only to spend her life pleasing her lord."
A quiet growl came from the dog demon. He had never growled at her before, but Kagome had – laughingly – explained that dog demons growled a lot when they were having difficulty trying to control some aspect of their emotions. Apparently this was why InuYasha always seemed grumpy, because he loved, and felt emotional hurt, so easily. An excited shiver ran down Rin's spine at the thought that she caused her lord to feel in such a way that he had to consciously restrain himself, and even more that he found it hard.
"Rin wishes to please this Sesshoumaru?" he said at last.
Rin nodded. "For as long as Rin has breath, Rin wants to please her lord Sesshoumaru, even if it should hurt Rin," she confirmed.
A powerful, clawed hand wrapped around her neck, tilting her head back so that she was forced to look up into burning gold eyes.
"Then this Sesshoumaru will allow Rin to please him," he said, leaning in closer to her face. "It will only hurt at first," he added in a whispering breath against her ear as he removed his armour.
Rin nodded and moved to the sleeping mat, unable to hide how harsh her breathing was becoming as she did so.