Here's chapter 14, enjoy! 8)
Disclaimer: I own nothing!
Wedding on Hate
Kaoru loved surprises. Her father spoiled her with them every so often. She still remembered the day her father took her to the stables on her 16th birthday and showed her a magnificent white stallion. "His name is Allegria, it means happiness in a foreign language. He's yours now." He'd said, and Kaoru hugged her father and took to training her new horse herself. Three years had passed since then and she still remembered the day clearly.
But that was nothing compared to the surprise of seeing her brother again. Kaoru was just getting ready for bed when she heard the approaching carriage. Curious, she looked out the balcony and immediately recognized the vehicle as one from her parents' estate. When she saw Sano stepping out, she squealed in delight.
"What is it?" Came Kenshin's voice from behind her.
"It's Sano!" She replied and she hurried out of the room, remembering to pull a robe over her white silk nightgown. Running out of the door, she tackled her brother in a fierce hug, and he hugged with just as much intensity, lifting her a few inches from the floor and twirling her once.
"Are you alright? I heard about the kidnapping." Sano said.
Kaoru scoffed, "I'm fine, Sano. Is that why you came?"
"Of course! I needed to check up on my little sister." Replied Sano, "And I couldn't let this lovely lady travel alone, she's my future wife after all."
At that moment, Megumi stepped out of the carriage and said, "Keep dreaming, rooster head."
Kenshin walked out of the mansion much more dignified than Kaoru had and smiled in greeting, "Welcome back, Megumi. Sano, it's good to see you again."
Kaoru approached her husband, "Kenshin! You're not supposed to be out of bed." She scolded lightly and Kenshin merely grinned and took her hand in his. "I can walk just fine, Kaoru." The bandages were still visible under his linen white shirt.
Sano gazed at the mansion and whistled, "This is a nice place you've got here, Kenshin."
"Thank you Sano. Please, make yourselves at home." Replied Kenshin.
Kenshin instructed for Sano's luggage to be taken to his old room and for his own belongings to be moved into the master bedroom. He glanced at Kaoru as he gave the instructions and she nodded.
"Will you be staying here, Megumi?" Kenshin asked.
"Oh please do, Megumi. That would be wonderful!" Kaoru exclaimed, still excited about the surprise.
Megumi thought about it for a second before sighing, "Alright. At least until your injuries get better." She said.
They made arrangements to have breakfast together the next day before retiring to sleep since it was already late.
Walking back into their room, Kaoru made sure Kenshin was comfortably lying back on the bed before settling next to him. She'd slept beside him for two days now and she was already used to his presence.
Kenshin wrapped his arm around her just like he had the previous nights and she curled up beside him.
"You had your things moved to this room." Pointed out Kaoru, breaking the silence. The room was now dark and her blush was barely visible, though he could feel her face heating up.
"Is that alright?" He asked.
Kaoru nodded, "I'm glad you did." She then turned her face to look up into his eyes, "I want this to work." She said.
"This?" Asked Kenshin while playing with a loose strand of her hair.
"Us." She said simply.
Kenshin smiled, "Me too, Kaoru." He shifted a little so he could look directly into her eyes, "You know, my feelings for you haven't changed."
Kaoru gazed shortly at him, "Kenshin, I want to be honest with you." She said.
He placed a finger to his lips silencing her, "I know Kaoru, you don't have to say it. Just know that I'll wait for you." He said. Kaoru gave him an appreciative smile and rested her head back in the soft pillow. She was glad he understood and was not pressuring her to return his feelings, because honestly, she really didn't know what they were herself. She was fond of him, sure, and had a growing attraction to him. Everything about him lured her to him, most especially those piercing amethyst eyes swirling with small flickers of gold. She smiled and allowed sleep to claim her.
The sun had risen but it was barely visible through the dark clouds looming in the sky. Autumn was fast approaching and the leaves on the trees were starting to lose their green coloring.
The atmosphere in the Himura estate was lively in contrast to the weather, especially in the dining room where the Lord and Lady Himura were having breakfast with their guests, along with the young Yahiko.
"He was utterly drunk and after the ball, he cornered me and declared he would marry me before passing out on the floor." Megumi finished telling the story. Sano looked completely embarrassed while everyone else laughed loudly.
Yahiko's laughter was louder than anyone else's, "That was dumb." Said the young boy.
"You're the dumb one, kid!" Replied Sano.
Kaoru had tears of laughter in her eyes, "What did you do afterwards, Megumi?"
"I left him there in the floor completely passed out from all the alcohol and went straight to bed." She said haughtily.
"That was cruel, fox. I woke up the next day with a neck ache and a hangover. Is that anyway to treat your future husband?" Said Sano.
"I don't know, rooster head, I'll let you know when I meet him." Replied Megumi with a smug grin.
"Ha! Rooster head!" Exclaimed Yahiko and started another roll of laughter.
Sano groaned, "Remind me again, Kaoru, why are we having breakfast with this kid?"
Kaoru ignored Yahiko's yell of 'I'm not a kid!' and answered, "We're resuming Yahiko's studies today after breakfast, so I wanted him to join us."
Sano looked sympathetically at Yahiko, "Good luck with that, kid. Kaoru's like an ogre when she tutors."
Yahiko sighed, "Tell me about it."
"Hey! What's that supposed to mean?" Exclaimed Kaoru in indignation.
"No need to get angry, Kaoru," Said Kenshin patting Kaoru's hand, "I'm sure they're just joking."
Sano and Yahiko turned to look at each other and mumbled at the same time, "Yeah, right."
Kaoru stuck out her tongue at Sano who grinned, "Very mature, missy." Remembering something else, he continued speaking, "And speaking of immaturity, Misao was devastated because you would not be able to attend her wedding."
Kaoru sighed, "Yes, I know. I sent her a letter explaining the situation. I expect she did not react well to the news of me and Kenshin missing her wedding."
Sano nodded and handed Kaoru a letter, "She gave me this for you."
Kaoru took the letter and opened it. There were two pieces of paper, one of them had Misao's writing on it and the other was a rough pencil sketch of Misao crying her eyes out. Kaoru laughed and handed Kenshin the sketch before reading the contents of said letter,
I am so sorry to hear of your recent kidnapping. Thankfully, your most gorgeous husband was able to rescue you. I do hope Kenshin will recover soon, because even though I understand you cannot make the trip at the moment, I cannot help but feel utterly depressed by the absence of my bestest of friends at my beautiful wedding. In case you were curious to my current state, I've enclosed a detailed drawing of myself, perfectly capturing the moment I received the news. However, I know of a way in which you can repay me; after the wedding, Aoshi and I will postpone our honeymoon in order to visit you in your new home. Afterwards, we can go on a double honeymoon! That way you can tell me every detail about your new adventures including the thrill of being kidnapped and rescued by your very own handsome knight! After that, you will not miss any important event in my life, including every anniversary, Christmas and birthday.
With much love,
Misao Makimachi, future Mrs. Shinimori"
Kaoru sighed and handed the letter to Kenshin, "We have to do something, she's threatened with a double honeymoon."
Kenshin's face paled and Sano cringed, "A double honeymoon with the weasel girl and the ice man?" he shuddered, "That sounds scary."
Kenshin nodded, "How about a ball once they arrive to welcome the newly-wedded couple?"
Kaoru grinned, "Yes, Misao loves balls, especially if we throw it in her honor."
Once everyone was finished with their meal, Kaoru stood up, "Yahiko, get your history book and meet me in the parlor, we have much to catch up to."
Yahiko groaned and slumped in his seat.
Kaoru narrowed her eyes at him, "I mean it Yahiko. Go. Now."
Yahiko stood and left the room, much to everyone else's amusement and prepared himself for the torture of study, even though he enjoyed his sessions with Kaoru. He felt like he had an older sister, but was unlikely to ever voice those thoughts aloud.
Tomoe was furious. Not only had she been humiliated completely by the Lady Kaoru, she had also noticed Kenshin's relationship with said Lady was improving. They hadn't fought or argued at all for several weeks. What's more, she had been forced to stay in her chambers for almost 3 days now, waiting for the mistress of the estate to decide what should be done. She knew she'd been reckless in reacting so the day of the confrontation, but she had been so worried about the red haired man that all rational thought had vanished from her head at that moment. She had to do something and she had to do it quickly. The first step would be to apologize to the Lady of the estate or risk a punishment that would drive her away from her beloved. The thought of apologizing to Kaoru made her insides revolt in anger. Why that silly girl had been chosen by Kenshin was beyond her and she was mad with envy. Kaoru was everything she could only ever dream to be. Born into her fortune by her family's merit and not her own, Tomoe was sure the noble Lady had never done a day's work in her life. It was so unfair how easy things came for some, especially when she'd struggled all her life and worked hard to get what she wanted. Her father had taught her how to administer an estate and could never afford to pay for the education noble ladies had. While she was working alongside her father, Kaoru had been learning music, art, history, foreign languages and even politics; everything needed for a society belle to become the perfect wife. And to have one of those ladies steal away the man she'd been in love with since her teenage years was eating her on the inside. Nevertheless, when Kenshin appeared at her door, she received him politely, hoping for the best. He looked much better than the last time she saw him, pale, unconscious and covered in blood.
"Master Himura, how may I be of assistance?" She said as she bowed.
"Kaoru has told me what happened, Tomoe. I am very disappointed in you." He said sternly.
She bowed her head in shame and he continued, "Kaoru is my wife and mistress of this house. I expected you to show her kindness and respect."
"I understand, and I apologize. I was just so very worried about your health, my Lord. Please forgive me, it will not happen again." She said, her eyes still fixed on the floor.
Kenshin sighed, "It is not me you should be apologizing to but Kaoru, after all, it is her choice whether you stay under our employment."
Tomoe's eyes widened and she looked up at him pleadingly, "Please don't turn me away, Lord Himura. I shall apologize to the Lady Kaoru and I will be nothing but respectful to her. Just please..." She trailed off, the tears were now threatening to come out.
Kenshin stared for a moment and his eyes softened, "I'll talk to Kaoru, just make sure this never happens again." He said and left a very shocked Tomoe. Once the door was closed, she took the nearest thing she could grab and flung it to the other side of the room in fury.
Taking deep breaths to calm down, she sat at the small wooden table near the window and started to write a letter to her brother, her only living relative. She could always rely on him for advice.
Soujiro was pacing across his room, waiting for Lord Shishio. He was told the news of Jineh's death that afternoon and he felt worry creeping throughout his body. Was Kaoru safe? It was torture waiting around for Shishio to inform him on what the next step in their plan was. His days of late had been spent mostly in training his swordsmanship. Apparently, he had the gift of speed and according to Shishio, he had much hidden potential and the man himself had taken to train him. Soujiro could feel how his skills were drastically improving, and was itching to cross his blade against the man who'd stolen his beloved. But Shishio said he was not yet ready. He would wait, and when the time came he'll set Kaoru free from her imprisonment and take her far away from the people who'd make them both so miserable.
Barely two days after the arrival of Lord Sanosuke and Miss Megumi at the Himura estate, the staff was busy again preparing a grand dinner and another room to receive two more guests at the estate: the recently wedded Mr. and Mrs. Shinomori. Even though it meant more work, the large staff in the estate was buzzing with excitement. Only a month ago, they received their new mistress who was sweet and kind to them, and two days past, the Lady's brother came along with Dr. Takani to liven things up. The maids especially were thrilled about the turn of events regarding Miss Yukishiro. Apparently, she had been removed from household duties and the Lady Kaoru had taken upon herself to supervise all household work along with Tae. Miss Yukishiro was to only take care of the estate's finances. The staff couldn't be happier, they all liked their mistress, she was kind, smiled at them and would often engage them in conversation. And to top it all, there would be a ball thrown in honor of Mr. and Mrs. Shinomori.
The moment the carriage was spotted nearing the estate's gates, the Lord and Lady Himura along with the Lord Sanosuke and Dr. Takani, stepped outside to welcome the guests. The carriage stopped and Mr. Shinimori came out, he held out his hand for his new wife to hold onto and she stepped out of the carriage as well. The maids stationed outside started whispering amongst themselves, marveling at the beautiful silk in Mrs. Shinomori's sky blue dress. Misao's gaze spotted her sapphire eyed friend and practically jumped, squealing in delight, "Kaoru! I've missed you so much!" She exclaimed while hugging Kaoru.
Kaoru laughed and returned the embrace, "Me too, Misao. I can't tell you how happy I am to see you."
They separated and watched as Aoshi approached Kenshin and they shook hands in greeting.
"Welcome to our home, Mr. and Mrs. Shinomori." Said Kenshin.
Misao sighed dramatically and took her husband's arm, "Mr. and Mrs. Shinomori, doesn't it sound nice?" She said to which Aoshi nodded, with barely any trace of emotion on his features, though Kaoru could clearly see the happiness in the man's ice blue eyes.
"Oh, look Aoshi! Sano and Megumi are here!" Misao said, "Hello rooster head! Hi Megumi!"
Sano grinned, "Hi there weasel girl."
Kaoru took Misao's free hand, "Guess what, Misao? We're throwing a masquerade ball in honor of your arrival and recent marriage"
Misao squealed in delight for the second time, "Oh Kaoru, you really are the bestest of friends!" And she threw her arms around Kaoru once again enveloping her friend in a hug, Kaoru laughed and winked at Kenshin's direction.
The petite girl released Kaoru and took her hand, dragging her behind to the entrance of the mansion, "Come on, Kaoru, we have much to talk about."
After seeing that the new guests were properly settled, Kaoru led Misao to a small parlor on the back of the estate, a tray of tea, cups and saucers was already waiting for the young Ladies.
As was expected, Misao started the conversation, "How are you Kaoru?"
Kaoru smiled, "I'm fine Misao."
"I mean after everything that happened on your wedding day. After Soujiro." Misao said in a very uncharacteristic serious tone.
Kaoru took her cup and sipped while thinking on the answer, "I'm dealing with it. It was hard at first, especially the first week," and she started telling Misao everything since that night they parted ways. There was no one she could confide in as she did Misao, and it was a huge relief to be able to tell her every thought and feeling without fear of being judged. The sapphire eyed girl had spent over a month at the Himura estate now and ever since her arrival, she had been immersed in a turmoil of unknown emotions and situations. So she told everything, from the way she had quarreled with her husband to Tomoe's defiance, the kidnapping, the worry she'd felt at Kenshin's wound and her growing attraction and affection for him.
"You're falling for him, and I think it's about time." Misao stated once Kaoru had finished speaking.
"I don't know Misao, maybe I am. But I can't stop feeling guilty about it." Kaoru confided.
Misao rolled her eyes, "Why would you feel guilty about falling in love with your own husband?" She asked.
Kaoru struggled for a moment for a way to explain herself, "Because I'm forgetting about Sou. I somehow feel like I'm betraying him, betraying the love we had for each other and the promises we made. I did not have enough faith in him when that woman showed up and he never gave up on me even after he was imprisoned unjustly. I feel like I shouldn't be enjoying myself or falling in love with someone else after everything he went through." Kaoru looked embarrassedly at Misao.
Misao sighed, "But you said it yourself, Kaoru, 'the love we had' past tense. That's all in the past and while it does influence our future, you have to move on to it. Don't think about what's happened, think about today. Today you're married to a man who loves you and you're falling for him as well. Today you can create a wonderful life for you and make Kenshin happy. Stop hiding your feelings just because you're afraid."
Kaoru frowned, "I'm not afraid." She protested.
"Yes you are" Misao countered, Kaoru glared slightly at her petite friend and the green eyed girl continued, "Then why can't you accept your feelings, Kaoru? I know you, I see the look in your eyes when you talk about Kenshin. Why can't you say you're in love with him?" Misao asked.
Kaoru lowered her gaze, "You're right Misao. I am a coward. I can't say that I love Kenshin because I fear he will be taken from me, the same way Soujiro and I got separated."
Misao's eyes softened, "Then you'll have to trust him. He's waited this long for you, he deserves your faith and trust."
Kaoru inhaled deeply and smiled, "You're right, Misao. Soujiro's out of my life and part of a cherished past. I shouldn't be afraid anymore because Kenshin loves me" and then she added in a whisper, "just as I love him." Kaoru then laughed, "When did you get so smart, Misao?"
"I've always been smart, Kaoru. You've just been too dumb to notice." Misao stated smugly.
"I'm not dumb." Said Kaoru.
"Yes you ar-" Misao was interrupted by a small cushion landing on her face, Kaoru's laugh filling the room. Misao took another cushion from the couch and raised it to strike Kaoru with it. The door opened at that moment and an amused Kenshin cleared his throat, "Am I interrupting something?" he said.
Misao quickly hid the cushion behind her back and grinned, "Nothing for you to be concerned about Kenshin."
"In that case, may I steal my wife for a moment Misao?" He said.
"Please do! I need to get ready for dinner anyway." Misao said and addressed Kaoru waving her hand, "Go on, Kaoru. I'll see you at dinner."
Kaoru stood and walked over to Kenshin, he extended his hand and she took it without thought.
"I want to show you something." He said.
"A surprise?" Kaoru asked eagerly.
"Then lead the way, Lord Himura."
Together, they walked through corridors and reached a wide set of mahogany doors, she recognized them from her first tour with Tae but they had been locked. Tae had told her it was a room only Kenshin had access to. Kenshin took out a set of keys and opened the doors, leading Kaoru inside. He switched the lights on and Kaoru widened her eyes in surprise.
The room had a lot of space, with barely any furniture, it had a wooden floor and different weapons lined the walls.
"This is the training room where I spent most of my childhood learning the art of swordmanship from my Uncle." Informed Kenshin, "You once told me your father taught you how to use your sword before your mother cancelled such activities."
Kaoru crossed the room and gazed at the swords in the wall, her fingers tracing the hilt in the closest blade.
"You remembered." She whispered. Kenshin was able to hear since he stood behind her.
"You may continue your training if you so wish to. This room is also available to you." He whispered back in her ear.
Kaoru grabbed the hilt of the sword and took it from the wall. "How about a warm up?" She grinned.
Kenshin smiled, "Are you sure? Your dress might be ruined my Lady."
Kaoru arched her brow, "I have enough dresses thanks to my generous husband."
Kenshin drew his sword, "Well then, let's see your skills Madam."
Kaoru drew her sword as well and held her in a fighting stance, "As you wish, my Lord." She said, getting the feeling of the familiar weapon in her hands. Instead of waiting for him to make the first move, she stroke first, bringing her sword down. Kenshin blocked the strike with ease, "Not bad, Mrs. Himura." He used little force to push her blade, turning around he brought his sword sideways, Kaoru turned quickly and met his sword with hers. The sound of steel clashing over and over again rang through the room as they parried, and in a matter of minutes, Kaoru had been disarmed, Kenshin's sword pointed at her at a safe distance.
"It seems I won." He smirked and lowered his sword.
"Only because I am so out of practice" she said stubbornly.
Kenshin approached her, pleased when she didn't move back and he circled her waist with her arms. "Then that's something we shall have to remedy." He said huskily.
Kaoru smiled, "I'd like that very much."
"You are amazing, Kaoru." He said before claiming her lips with his own. Kaoru reacted quickly and wound her arms around his neck, responding to the kiss with as much fervor as him.
"Boy, your time has come." Said Shishio while Soujiro bowed before him.
"There shall be a masquerade party at the Himura estate in two days' time. It shall be the perfect opportunity for you to get in and get your woman. That way she'll be out of harm once we raid the estate."
"Yes, Colonel Shishio." Said Soujiro and left the room once he was dismissed.
A woman stepped out of the darkness in the room and went to sit beside Shishio, he took her waist and she leaned into him.
"Why send the boy to get her? Enishi's report said the girl has fallen for Himura, the Captain won't be successful." Said the woman.
"Precisely Yumi. Jineh failed to kill her. If we can't kill the wench, let's have her break the boy's heart. Then we will let him know it was the General himself who hired you and I will have his complete allegiance." Shishio said and accepted a glass of wine from Yumi.
somehow, I don't feel completely satisfied with this chapter... that's why I took longer to update. I have all the story planned out in my head but writing down the scenes and building the tension in this chapter was kinda hard... I've started with chapter 15 already and it's flowing much better than this one so please tell me what you think! reviews really make me happy and inspire me! ;)