Sesshoumarou lifted his alpha off the bed, as she had voiced that she wanted to bathe. He knew that a small hot spring was adjacent to their room. He held her close to him, as he continued to kiss her passionately. She had said that she loved him, and he knew that they were now closer to his goal and could almost see the finish line. She just had to authorize him to mark her with his mating mark. He could see the sense in her request, and would wait until the seal would be broken and was full blooded demon again, as well as the pregnancy present in her scent. He also wanted to see if she would remain pregnant, as his own mother had told him that it took several unsuccessful pupping before she bore him to term. Sesshoumarou had always attributed that to the fact that his mother did not have a strand of maternal material in her, but he now started having doubts. If he brought her back now, even if they fully mated, and she miscarried, she might be viewed by the council as unable to conceive, and as a sign that they would need to produce an heir through a concubine. He pondered these thoughts on the way to the warm spring where they would be able to continue their early activity. Now that he was hers, and that he had decided to wait before returning to his castle, he felt as though he had all the time in the world to spend with his alpha.

Still clutching to Sakura, Sesshoumarou lowered both their naked bodies in the comfortable water and felt his body instantly relax. He positioned her onto his lap and coiled his arms around his miko's small frame, and was quite content in holding her close to him, her warmth permeating his whole body. He figured that she might have questions about the changes that had occurred and what would the consequences of her lineage be. He felt slightly tense, as he knew so little of her thus far that he could not anticipate her reaction. Whether good or bad, the demon lord hated surprises, and rarely took a course of action which he could not predict. This little miko, his alpha, had now turned his entire carefully planned track sideways.

Sakura broke the kiss as she felt her demon lord tense in her arms. She had first felt him relax as they had walked into the hot spring, but he now was stiff as a plank. She looked into his golden pools and said in a soft voice: "Is something troubling you, my Sesshoumarou?" She saw Sesshoumarou's gaze intensified as he said: "We need to address something about who you are, my miko... Do you know of the crest which adorns your forehead, my love?" She smiled back at him tenderly and said: "I have my doubts... It is the crest of the house of the North, is it not?" Sesshoumarou could not help but be stunned. She went on to tell him what had happened during the night, up to the point of her recent transformation. She saw Sesshoumarou slightly embarrassed as she told him of her three council members, and how even though in the shapes of beasts still remained somewhat sentient.

The demon lord recalled the events which had occurred while the small hawk had took perch on his head. It was one thing to show his weakness before his long time friend and trusted confidant; it was another to act like an out of control heated pup in front of the long time family friend or your intended mate. He knew he would have his load of work when it came to turning the strategist around and getting into his good graces. It was fair to him though. From what she had said, the man had basically raised his alpha's father, and was like a grandfather to him. It would be only right that he had to prove his worth to the patriarch of any female's family, especially one as special as his little miko. He was up to the challenge, and knew that once the man saw how he treated his mate to be, he would be favourable to his cause. He was truly intrigued about her role in her own birth, as she had seem to be oblivious about all laws of nature and tore through the fabric of time, reaching out to save herself. She then spoke of the prophecy-like words the priest had spoken, and that had his interest peek. He let her finish before he asked: "Could you tell me the priest's exact words, when he spoke of your future?"

Sakura had to concentrate for one moment, but it came back quickly as her photographic memory had engraved the words in her memory for the rest of her life. She then spoke in a quiet, neutral tone: "Mark my words, little Sakura, as your future is quite clear to me; you will live, and through adversity, you will find your soul mate. He will give you the family which was robbed from you, as well as the happiness that you deserve. You will live to see the ones responsible for this tragedy pay, as the lord and lady of the North were good, generous people, and karma always punishes those who harm innocents out of greed. Not only will what is rightfully yours returned, you will gain more then what you have lost, as you are the flower that will bloom in adversity... You will bring warmth to the coldest winter's night, renew the innocence of a disastrously dry or flooded spring, bring birth to an infertile summer and bountifulness to a cruel fall. You will first be the miko of the four seasons then the lady of the west, and grow into the lord of the four countries. You will become mighty and powerful, and none will oppose you. Such is your karma. Some may cower in fear at the thought of such heavy burden, yet you will face it and lift this burden as a feather on your shoulder, as easily as you yield your monster Ochaida. You will be as the four winds, and all shall bow in your way. All but your mate, who shall stand tall by your side."

Sesshomarou pondered her words carefully and felt the burden of it. His mate was a great being with a heavy karma. He started to doubt his right to be by her side. Perhaps she really needed to wait before he marked her, as once that was done, no other being would be considered her equal. Demon society worked in with intricate rules and regulations, and as a general recognized principle, one that was fairly simple, was first come first served. If he was the first to mark her, he would be viewed as her primary mate, her near equal, just as since she had marked him first, no other female would hold such status. Also, as she was his alpha, she would have her say as to who he would be mated to. Should she force him to mate another, he had no power to object. He could ignore the second mate, but he would not be able to refuse his alpha should she order him to rut with the second mate. On the other hand, would she remain unmated, she would be available to mate with another. One who could potentially be stronger, and worthier than him... He loved his alpha, more than he loved his own life. If another could protect her better, he would accept such a situation, would it be only to keep her safe.

Sakura saw that doubt clouded and darkened his golden orbs. She felt worried that he would not stay by her side, as she may be too much trouble for what she was worth. She felt her voice caught in her throught as she said in a strangled voice: "My Sesshoumarou, do you know why it is that I do not fear this heavy karma placed on me?" When she saw that her demon was looking back into her eyes she followed: "It is because I know that I have you by my side. If you are not there with me, then I fear I will not be able to pursue this journey..." She then continued, despite her better judgement as she knew that she was now having a fit of verbal diarrhoea: "I understand that you have your lands to protect, and that you have your responsibilities, and also can appreciate the fact that this was forced upon you and that I might not have much to offer in exchange for the task ahead, and will not hold it against you if you wish not to be implicated..." Sakura stopped as she knew that her nervousness had grown out of hand. She suddenly felt tears prickle her eyes and hoped that she would not have a complete melt down.

Sesshoumarou had watched his alpha struggle as he was quite unreadable to most, and she had misread his doubt in his worthiness as doubt in hers. He cringed, as he knew that with all that she had gone through, being placed in the role that she was now in was not easy. The demon lord rubbed his nose on hers, as he knew that this simple gesture helped calm her. He then said: "My Sakura, as you were not raised in demon society, there are many political intricacies that you are not aware of..." He then thought of a way to soften what he was about to say: "You are clearly destined to a great future, and a truly important role to our country. You are now the new Lady of the West, as you are my alpha, and your word holds greater importance than mine. However, what if I am not that mate who will stand tall next to you?..." He paused, as he felt his chest clench and is own voice caught in his throat, he then continued, voice strained: "If you stay available for a first mate, you might find another powerful ally... I will always be yours, as you are my alpha and will never desert my post by your side. However, what if I am not worthy of being your first mate..."

Sakura jumped at the statement, and wanted to clarify certain points to ensure that she had understood correctly: "You do not want to mark me as yours, not because you do not think that I am worth it, but because..." She left her open and he answered: "Because your Sesshoumarou might not be worthy of you..." Sakura could feel the relief wash over her body. Tears flowed from her eyes as she spoke: "My Sesshoumarou, no other male will ever be as worthy as you. You are my first mate, and unless dire needs will remain my only mate, and will be my last mate. I will not allow you to mark me until you realise that there is, nor will there ever be another for me. You'd better get that done before your country falls into turmoil, as we will not return to your domains until you accept your place as my equal." Her own statements helped her gain her self-confidence back, as she knew that her demon fed of it.

Sesshoumarou felt her demeanor change, and that soothed him. She had spoken with such certainty about his role, and about how confident she was that he was the male fit for the job that he had felt a slight surge in his own pride. If such a magnificent alpha held him in such high esteem, it truly meant that he could do it. He also felt relieved that she had no intentions of taking more mates, could she help it. He looked at his alpha adoringly, as she was still rubbing her nose onto his. He reached for some of the soaps laid on a nearby tray for their use. He knew that her sense of smell would still be very sensitive to all of the fragrant perfumes added to some of them. Sesshoumarou did not care much for these overly scented soaps and preferred the simple ones, those which held one or two light scents. He knew that most women loved the scents of cherry blossoms, but his Sakura hated them with a passion, so he stayed away from those. His second pick would have been lavender, had it been any other female. The scent was quite complex and harsh for sensitive noses, and did not want to add to her discomfort. He hesitated between a soap which held rose petals, and one which held the scent of a flower unknown to him.

Sakura had watched him run his hand over the tray of soaps attentively. She knew that most men would go for the easy sakura scented soap, but his hand passed that one. He then hovered over a lavender soap and passed to the next, which she was grateful for. She loved lavender with a passion. It soothed her nerves, but she felt that her sensitive senses might be a little overwhelmed by it. He then seemed to hesitate between two other soaps, his hand going from one to the other and she lowered herself to his ear and whispered: "Go for the jasmine scented soap for my body, I prefer that flower to roses, as opposed to my hair, which I prefer to be washed with rose infused water, as it makes it silkier."

Sesshoumarou grinned, as she had ended his inner turmoil. He made a mental note to ask of the mysterious flower later, as he was curious how she had come in contact with such a smell and not him. He picked up the soap and lathered it between both his hands until it formed a thick white lather. He then started lathering her shoulders, and trailed down her arms. As he massaged each of her slender fingers, she let out a small sigh out of contentment. He made note, as he knew that females enjoyed having their bodies massaged and he would certainly dance on her fingers in the future.

He then moved to her neck, washing her chest, up to her chin, and lowering his hand between her large breasts. He would fondle those later, as he now wanted her to feel comfortable and clean. He washed her smooth stomach, as he suddenly noticed that her skin no longer displayed the scars of her past. He continued to lather her core and, when he felt content with what he had done, he moved to her back. He rubbed her with long strong strokes, as he wanted to massage the tired muscles at the same time. Though she had not complained, he knew that her body was tired from all it had gone through. If she was truly pupped, the coming days would even be more trying for her small body and he wanted to ensure that she was as well as possible. His hands moved to her shoulders and started to rub at some of the tight knots, feeling her ease under the gentle pressure. He smelled her becoming aroused from the touch and grinned internally. He then said in a husky voice: "My Sakura, your body is tense from all it had gone through in the past few days... I want you to be at your prime, as the coming months might be hard on your fragile frame. It does no good if you do not let me provide what your muscles need to recuperate by becoming aroused..."

Sakura smiled at his words. She had never felt arousal from massages, and this was the first time that someone had given her such a feeling. She then answered: "My Sesshoumarou, I trust you with touching me, and you are making my body feel so good right now, how can I not feel some arousal?..." She gave him a lust filed look, as she went on to suckle on his mating mark. It did the trick, as she felt him harden under her. He even let out a small moan as she sucked harder. She then moved her mouth to his ears, and licked his lobe before saying: "This also relaxes my tensed muscles..."

Before he could answer she positioned herself in a straddling position and pushed his length in her. She threw her head back from the pleasure she was feeling. She had smelled some of his arousal in the past, but never like what her keener sense were throwing her way; she could now clearly smell his desire, as his scent grew spicier and a musky lace seem to wrap it all. She could see the blood vessels on his face dilate to allow the blood to flow faster. She could hear his heart beat grow faster, as well as all the moans her human hears could not pick up. What she could smell, she tasted off his skin, as a thin layer of sweat was now covering the parts of his body which were not submerged in water. She was getting drunk of his taste, when she noticed that even her sense of touch had gotten keener, as she had coiled her hands around him, and her hands were now buried deep in his luscious hair. She started gently swaying her hips from side to side and she felt his hard shaft twitch within her. She returned her mouth to the small bite mark on his shoulder, only scar that his perfect body displayed.

His alpha started sucking his mating mark, sending jolts of pleasure through his body, making his erect member throb within her. He moaned louder, as the sweet torture she was inflicting on him was making it hard for him not to lose control. He bent slightly and captured one of her pert nipples. She gasped as he suckled it like a new born pup. He started rubbing the other, pinching it slightly, mindful not to hurt her. He let his teeth play with the rosy bud, and was rewarded with a lustful growl from his alpha. The demon lord felt the vibration of the growl through his entire body and responded with a deep moan.

Sakura started thrusting her hips slowly, as she wanted the pleasure to last. She loved this new feeling of control that she had recently gained. Her mate seemed more than happy to let her be in charge, and she was going to enjoy every moment. She concentrated on the feeling of his long shaft within her, how it rubbed her inner walls and sent jolts of pleasure through her body. She rotated her pelvis slightly on her next thrust, and found a specific angle which brought her more pleasure. She stayed this way and started pumping faster, bringing her close to her release. She felt her Sesshoumarou rubbing her pleasure nod, while still toying with her sensitive nipples. She started kissing his forehead, hoping that he would offer her his mouth.

Sesshoumarou felt by the intensity of her kisses that she wished access to his mouth. He reluctantly abandoned the rosy nipple, and licked his way to her mouth. She twirled her tongue with his, while thrusting her hips faster. She moaned loudly as he rubbed her perky bud faster. He could feel by the tightness of her walls that she was close to her release. She broke the kiss only to catch some air and to whisper in his ear: "Do you want to find your release with your alpha, my Sesshoumarou?" He moaned his answer: "Yes, my Sakura..." Her voice became more demanding as she said: "Then say it." He looked her in the eyes and said: "I wish to find my climax at the same time as you, my alpha." He could see that she somehow enjoyed hearing him ask her, and thought that she must enjoy her new role.

She grinned and said: "I authorize it..." She then threw her heads backwards as she ground her hips harder and faster, offering full view of her tantalizing neck to the demon lord. He sucked it where he would one day mark her as his. She seemed to enjoy the sensation, so he suckled harder, knowing full well that he would leave her neck bruised. He felt her tense up as she reached her peak, and allowed himself his own sweet release, spilling his spent within her. He suddenly felt exhausted, as if his entire energy was depleted at once. He rested his head on her chest, content to listen to her heart beating. He felt her wrap her arms around his head, as she buried her face in his hair, kissing his scalp. He then said in a deep voice: "How I love you, my Sakura..." He heard her giggle slightly before she answered: "And I love you, my Sesshoumarou..."

Sakura bent down and kissed her mate, before reluctantly pulling off him. Her body felt slightly sore from the intensity of their activities, but she did not care. She nearly fell on her behind when she tried to get up, as her legs felt like rags. Sesshoumarou looked at her, worried and said: "Are you well, my Sakura?" Sakura chuckled before answering: "Just a little weak in the knees... and a little light headed as well. I think we should get something to eat." Sesshoumarou nodded in agreement, as he then felt slightly guilty, as she had not eaten in nearly two days.

The demon lord quickly finished washing himself and got out of the water, only wrapping a towel around his waist. He helped his miko out of the hot spring and wrapped a towel around her as well. He then lifted her in his arms bridal style. She laughed at his careful movements and said: "I said that I was slightly lightheaded, I can still walk though..." Sesshoumarou rubbed his nose on hers and said: "Your body needs to be strong, and I will not risk my mate to be injuring herself by falling when she is weak."

She gave him a warm smile and rested her head on his shoulders, as she knew that this was a battle lost in advance. She let him carry her to their bed, and he laid her there carefully, as though she was now the most fragile piece of porcelain. She smiled warmly at him, as he went to the door and passed through the barrier that she had erected to keep her sensitive ears safe from the excessive noise. Sakura gradually lowered her barrier, allowing her new senses to adjust to the sounds of the household. She heard Sesshoumarou give clear explanations to one of the maids pertaining to the meal that was to be brought to their room. She snuggled in the silky sheets, happy that he was taking care of her. She had never had proper care givers per say, and having someone tending to her was quite comforting. She heard him come back to the bed and spoon her back. She felt his fluffy tail wrap around her small frame. She let out a sigh of happiness and wished that this moment never ended. He nuzzled his face in her still damp hair, and let out a similar sigh.

Their moment was broken by a knock on the door. Sesshoumarou reluctantly lifted his head, and before saying anything ensured that his miko was properly covered, as he did not want her body exposed to anyone. When he was satisfied with what he saw, he said loudly: "Enter" The door opened to reveal his old friend, holding a large tray of raw meats. He slowly approached the bed where the newly mated couple was laying. He knew better than to disturb two recently mated demons, as any potential threats would be dealt with swiftly. He approached as quietly as possible.

The old horse breeder's eyes strayed from the whelp to his mate and he was quite surprised with what he saw. He noticed that she did not have a mating mark on either shoulders, and that she was now displaying demon features. Her eyes were locked on him, and he suddenly felt the strength of her aura pushing down on him. He then looked back at the whelp and noticed that the exposed shoulder was proudly displaying a mating mark. He chuckled internally, as he realised who was the alpha in their couple. He knew that he had to be doubly careful, as female alpha seemed to be even more territorial towards their mates then males were.

Sakura fought a surge of territoriality towards the approaching male. She knew that somehow, he was no threat and that he would not harm her mate. She used all her will power to soften her attitude towards him, and gave him a warm smile and said: "Good morning friend, how are you?" His demeanour seemed to change, as he was stiff as a rod. He slightly relaxed and answered: "I am quite well my lady. I hope you are also well?" She nodded and said: "Yes I am quite well, thank you. Thank you for bringing us our meal to our room, we could have come to the dining hall to eat there..." The old demon smiled slightly before saying: "Well, the staff was concerned about having a newly mated pair strolling around the mansion. They were even reluctant to come and bring you food. In the end, I had to volunteer as I was afraid that the maids might do something foolish... I can see that there is no sense in worrying about the safety of my household, and I would welcome a stroll with my lord and my lady after you have eaten if you would like." Sakura smiled once more and said: "We would welcome some fresh air indeed. We'll meet you outside once we are done and decent." The old breeder chuckled as he was leaving. This was a most interesting mating, as he had never expected the pup to bow before anyone. He had issues bowing down to his own father, and though the whelp had respected his old man, he found it hard to have any form of authority imposed on him, as he was a natural leader. To see his demon lord actually accept a human miko as his dominant partner was quite amusing to the older man.

Sakura had not realized how famished she had been. She wolfed down her meal and felt her energy replenished. She had always loved raw foods but had kept her intake of uncooked meats to a minimum as she knew that it was socially unacceptable to eat some meats raw, and she was highly pleased when a platter of raw meats had been presented before them. They quickly got dressed, as Sakura was looking forward to getting some fresh air. They had found the house nearly empty, as all staff was outside working. Sakura noticed the change in the air, as it had become slightly crisper. She knew that colder months were to come, and she could only hope that they would soon be home in her mate's domain. As they stepped out, she instinctively scanned the auras of the people present in the near vicinity. One bothered her, as is was non-demonic, and held holy powers. She quickly spotted the source of her unease and let out a barely audible growl.

Sesshoumarou caught his miko's change in attitude and followed her gaze to see a Buddhist monk in a lively discussion with his old friend. Taking into account her unfriendly dispositions towards monks in general, paired with her current surge of over protectiveness, he thought it wise to turn around and return once the monk had departed. His friend turned towards them and beeline straight for the pair before he could voice his thought. The monk was following in his lead and the old demon stopped a few feet away from them. He then said in a gregarious tone: "I am glad that you were able to leave your room to join us! Lady and Lord of the West, I'd like you two to meet an old friend of mine. Hikaru is one of the best horse trainers in these parts of the country. He has personally trained most of the steeds your army currently uses."

The monk frowned as the older man had addressed the lady first. However, he bowed towards the demon lord and said: "It is a pleasure to make your acquaintance, my lord." He then followed protocol and turned towards Sakura, bowing, he said: "It is a pleasure to also meet your mate, my Lord..." His words earned him a vicious snarl from the small female. He looked up to see her eyes turning slightly red, and he backed away slowly. He looked at the demon lord, confused. He let his aura flare out, and realized his mistake. He knelt before Sakura and said: "I apologize profusely for my mistake, my Lady. I meant no disrespect."

Sesshoumarou had seen how volatile the situation had become, and he needed to act quickly, as he did not want the monks head to be severed from his body. He wrapped his arms around his alpha's core and let out a soothing rumble to calm her, and purred in her ear: "His blood is not worthy of your claws, my Sakura. Come my little miko, we should be heading back inside..." He was interrupted by his alpha saying: "That's fine, I'm calmed down... I wish to remain outside." He smiled tenderly at her, as he felt her still stiff in his arms, but he knew that he had diffused her temper nicely. He waited for her to take a few deep breaths before uncoiling his arms from her. He heard her say: "I am the one who should apologize, Monk. It was an honest mistake and did not warrant such a reaction. You may rise."

The monk waited for a few seconds before he did so. He looked at the demoness standing before her and was surprised by something that his senses picked up. He could not help but say: "You possess holy powers... how can that be?..."

The stunned look on the priest's face made Sakura smirk. She answered smugly: "Did you not hear my mate address me as a miko earlier? I was trained in the holy ways." When she saw him frown, she continued: "My demonic aura was seal at birth by a monk, and I think out of protection my body learned unconsciously how to convert the demonic energy to purifying energy. Either that or I am a demon who possesses holy powers, your pick..."

The monk was stunned by her bluntness. He knew from reputation that the Lord of the West was not one to go out of his way to be courteous, but for the Lady of the West to be so open about her heritage was slightly disconcerting. Also, he had noticed the spite each time she said the word 'monk' as if he was some form of repulsive animal. Seeing how short tempered she currently was, Hikaru decided not to ask any further questions. He simply looked at the angry beauty standing before him.

The old demon was looking at the scene with fascination written all over his face. Normally, even demons would respect monks when they were not hostile towards them. He had thought that she would show herself kinder to the monk as she had been raised a miko. On the contrary, he had been surprised to see her display a show of hostility like she had to no one else. He was about to speak when a large silvery stallion made his way to them, trotting happily. The monk had seen this particular stallion over the years, and it had been the only hose that he had been unable to break.

The monk placed himself protectively in front of the trio, as he had seen the damage that he had done to others in the past. He saw a flash pass by him, and his eyes grew wide as he realised that it was the Lady of the West that was actually speeding towards the large beast. He was about to shout to her when he saw her leap gracefully and straddle the large horse. Her frame was so small that she looked dwarfed by the large animal. He saw that she fully controlled the horse, and had him bend to her every will. A stunned look adorned his traits as he felt a friendly hand on his shoulders. He looked up at the old breeder, bewilderment flagrant on his face. The old demon roared in laughter at his look, and said: "Don't take it personally my friend; it seems that this little female has a strange effect on males, especially the ones that are hard to control..." His comment earned him a growl from the younger demon standing behind them, which only fuelled his laughter.

The three males watched the small woman ride the horse for a few minutes before she returned to the trio. She stepped of the giant horse and walked towards them. The trio looked at her with a strange awe in their eyes. The horse breeder seemed to break the spell when he said: "Well pups, I would say it's time for some tea, what do you all think?" They all nodded and followed the old man into the mansion, making their way silently to a small room.

They all sat around a richly ornate table, while the maids were setting the table. A fuming pot of tea was placed at the center, and then surrounded it by four cups. The maids grace when serving the warm beverage was nothing close to that displayed by the miko a few days ago. Though the old demon had appreciated the miko's display of elegance, he was not about to ask his lord's alpha to serve them tea. The young girl bowed before exiting, quite relieved, as the auras of the four beings in that room were quite strong and over powering her own.

When the maid exited and shut the screen, the monk erected a barrier around the room so that none would hear them. He had heard strange rumours, and if any were true, then the mysterious being sitting across from him was in danger. The old horse breeder started: "I have filled in my friend on the events that have happened to the two of you, and in light of the new events, we might have a few theories..."

The monk nodded and said: "There are rumours that a strong demon is attempting to unite the four countries and become the lord of all. His coup against the lord and lady of the north was his first step in achieving this. It is said that none knows who he is, as he operates from the shadows. The recent havoc created by a certain half-demon named Naraku was only meant to weaken the Cardinal Lords to usurp more power from them. We know very little about him, as his minions always seem to point in different directions." He stopped when he saw that the little demoness was looking at her mate intently. He did not wish to ask as of yet, so he continued: "It was unknown to all that there was an heir to the throne of the North, as the land now lay in turmoil and is ravaged by civil war. All are grasping at what little power they can gain."

Sesshoumarou nodded to that statement and added: "Indeed, many attacks have befallen upon my villages on the northern borders. They are becoming more frequent as the people are getting more desperate. The council has nearly collapsed upon itself, and it is said that no interim ruler has been given power by them, as they are all as corrupted by power as the next. Strong measures will be needed to regain control over the territory." Though Sesshoumarou's placid mask was in place, he was boiling internally at the thought that his intended was robbed of her due birth right by those who were supposed to be loyal to her. They would have a hell of a cleanup to do amongst the council and the court.

Sakura's mind was racing. She had already figured that two hundred years of corrupted officials must have left the northern country in dire state. She was also thinking about what the monk who had save her life had predicted, that she would become the lord of the four countries. She kept that fact to herself, as all the events that had just happened recently seemed to have fallen in place like perfectly laid brick, and it seemed almost to perfect to her. Would this demon succeed in bringing her vision to life, he would kill two birds with one stone; not only would he kill the rightful lord of the north, he would also kill the lord of the west as well as his heir in one swift swoop. Sakura knew that she needed to be strong for the upcoming battles. She needed her full demon strength, and so did Sesshoumarou. Something about his curse also felt amok. How he had been cursed and she had magically appeared before him, a powerful miko trained in the dark arts, able to assist him. It was almost to convenient, as if her entire life's training had been for this only moment, for her to impress the demon lord and for him to offer her protection.

All three males noticed that she was completely lost in her thoughts and waited for her to snap out of it. They were slightly apprehensive, and Sesshoumarou was the first to break the silence as he said: "May your Sesshoumarou inquire what are your thoughts on the subject?" She smiled warmly at him and then said: "You don't have to all be so worried, I don't bite..." She then grinned at Sesshoumarou and added: "Most of the time..." Her comment had the desired effect, as the mood lightened and the atmosphere grew more relaxed, as the four of them chuckled.

Sakura's expression became slightly tensed as she drew a sip of tea. She then said, her voice steady despite her stress: "My thoughts is that all that has happened is far too convenient." As she saw that they were not adding anything, she continued: "Why had this demon waited two hundred years, why not act right away? Also, why act now, when I have just returned to this time frame, when lord Sesshoumarou, who happens to be my soul mate, is conveniently cursed? Why attack the north first? It is my understanding that Sesshoumarou, though powerful is still very young for his title, why not gather allies and strike then? Also, one thing bothers me about a prophecy that a monk told me..."

Sesshoumarou's head snapped as he looked at her, as he knew exactly which part she was referring to. He said: "How about you tell them what the priest told you, my Sakura?" She then started to recite monk's words. Both the older demon and the monk seemed lost in their thoughts when the monk said: "It is odd indeed, as he specifically said that you would be the Lady of the West, and yet the Lord of the four countries, meaning that in that role, you shall be the only one regarded as the ruler, and yet he spoke of a mate being your equal..."

Sakura answered quickly, as she had already pondered that question: "My intentions are to have Sesshoumarou as my first mate, my equal... However, is he is the Lord of the West, wouldn't he have to abandon his position and title to become the Lord of the four countries? Also, being the only heir to the land of the north, doesn't that make me, though having a potential mate, Lord of the North?" When they all nodded she continued: "It is not my intentions to be living in a castle up north while my mate lives in the west. Either both countries will be fused and we will rule this new country together as equals, or I will appoint an interim ruler and supervise this person until one of our pups is old enough to take over. It also seems appropriate that twins are growing in my womb, as we will need two heirs, one for the North and one for the West."

When all men were waiting for her to continue, she said: "The northern kingdom might be plagued by turmoil at the current time, but I will not leave a crumbling empire to my pup. However, what if one country becomes stronger than the other? The bound shared between twins will be necessary, as instead of becoming rivals, they will be allies… Though ultimately, one might take the throne earlier…" Sakura paused for an instant, as her calculating mind was now many steps ahead. She did not need the gift of prescience to know that one of her unborn pups would rule the North, once she and his father had regained power and balance. The other pup would need more nurturing, and would inherit the West… eventually. Sakura suddenly noticed that she had been lost in her own thoughts as the males were staring at her. She quickly answered: "As for how I would become the Lord of the four countries, only time will tell, as I cannot foresee that far as I am not well versed in demon's politics."

They all pondered her words, and the monk spoke first: "I tend to agree with your theory. You said that there are very few demons in the time you come from, is that correct?" She frowned and then nodded. He continued: "Then the two of you need to return there until the mating is complete, as it is not safe for you to remain here. I would also suggest you remain there until you are well into your fourth week of gestation..." Sakura raised an eyebrow, she then spoke: "Three questions... why four weeks? Second, pray tell how exactly are we supposed to get back to the time where I was raised? Once there, how do we come back? I never heard of time travel to be an exact science you know..."

The monk smiled warmly at her as he already had a plan when it came to their time travel. He simply answered: "The old bone eater's well. You are far more powerful than the miko who used it to travel back and forth between her time and our era, and you are trained while she was not. She was able to go to her time with her half-demon companion, so you should be able to use it. I also have another plan, should this one fail. I can accompany you there, as I have a disciple in Edo who has just recently had children and would love to go visit them. As for the four weeks suggestion, it was so you would reach your half way point in your pregnancy. Dog demons, from what I remember, have exceptionally short pregnancies for such evolved beings, and eight to ten weeks is usually the norm. Though I do not know for twins, the pregnancy might just be shorter."

Sakura nodded and said: "I think it is an acceptable plan." She turned to Sesshoumarou and saw him nod. She felt the aura of the old dog demon rise in fear, and she somehow knew that it was linked to her pups. She looked at him warmly and said: "There are better medicines in the time I come from. I was also trained in the ways to use them, and my demon has suggestions on how to keep the pups safe..." She then turned to Sesshoumarou and asked him: "Can you trust someone with your lands for a month?" A devious smile formed on his lips as he said: "I think there is someone who owes me two life debts in Edo who could be convinced..." Sakura's eyes narrowed as she said: "I thought that you had laid those debts on me..." He then chuckled and answered: "Your Sesshoumarou would never dare impose such a thing on his alpha, so the debt becomes his. Besides, it is only a month, he'll live, and it will do him some good to see the responsibilities I carry." Sakura smiled at his plan and nodded. The monk then said: "Good, all set then, when shall we depart?"

Sesshoumarou knew that if they made good paste, they could be there within a few hours. He wanted his intended mate out of harm's way as soon as he could get it accomplished. He answered: "We will gather our things and depart. I will send a missive to my castle to inform them that I will be gone for a month, but that my younger half-brother will be covering the interim. He and Jaken cannot muster too much mayhem, even if they both put their brains to it." Sakura raised an eyebrow at the unfamiliar name. Sesshoumarou chuckled when he answered: "He is a small kappa demon who has served our family loyally for over eight hundred years. He is the most annoying being you will come across, but he is loyal." She smiled at his answer and couldn't wait to meet him. Sakura turned to the old demon and said: "Would my miko garb be clean?"

She did not miss the side glance he threw Sesshoumarou, and the demon lord snickered as he said: "No Lady of the West has ever dressed like a commoner and this will not start today. I have commissioned my old friend with the task of getting you some appropriate kimonos for your rank. We will be bringing those through the well, as I do not wish to see you dressed in those clothes." When he saw that she was about to argue he added: "Besides, your skin is more sensitive now and requires silk, not those harsh linens and wools that peasants use." Sakura smiled as she had already noticed that her skin was now a lot more sensitive and more susceptible to being irritated.

She simply said: "I will bring one or two kimonos to the future, but they will not be appropriate every day wear. The only people that wear them are geishas and rich people who want to show off. Though I must admit the kimonos of this time are quite flattering on the figure..." Sesshoumarou knew that he had won when he said: "I am rich, and I like to showcase what is mine..." Sakura laughed lightly, knowing quite well that this was not a battle she wanted to fight. She would propose a compromise then, as she spoke: "Very well, we will take my entire wardrobe, but on the other hand, once we get there, you agree to let me dress you in tasteful, expensive modern clothing." The demon lord knew that he had no choice but to agree and nodded. They would be there for only a month, so he could compromise a little.

All of them rose to go get ready for the short trip to Edo. Sesshoumarou turned towards his miko and said: "My Sakura, please join me in our room, so you may eat before we leave." Sakura was about to argue when he cut her short: "We have already spoken of this; you need to remain strong, and you will need to feed five to six times per day to do so. I will tolerate no arguments from you on that front. You might be a very respectable healer, but you know very little about demons as there are few in your times..."

Sakura had to resign herself, as she knew that he was speaking the truth. She was however already feeling the first signs of mood swings and she did not want to cause a riot in front of others. She simply nodded in agreement, keeping her temper in check. She did not like being bossed around, but she had to remind herself that her mate was only doing what was best for her, and if the roles were inversed, she would probably force feed a reluctant mate. She felt him place his hand on the small of her back and she could only sigh as she said in a tired voice: "This is going to be a long two months..."

Sesshoumarou smiled at her whimper, and he said: "And your mate is going to be there for you through every hardship." She smiled warmly back at him and rested her head on his shoulder as they made their way to their room. She sat in front of a fresh platter of meats, and somehow doubted that she could gulf down five to six of those per day. Her reluctance left her when she took her first bite, and she realized that her body was craving more. By the time she had finished her meal, Sesshoumarou had finished his preparations and they were ready to leave. As they joined the monk and the breeder outside, she noticed that a small mare had been fitted with a heavily loaded saddle, which was covered with numerous boxes. She then looked at him with a clear frown as she said: "Just how many of those boxes are kimonos, my mate?" He smiled and answered: "All of them..." Sakura shook her head and answered: "Fine, but I am not the one carrying them." Her comment made all three males chuckle.

All of them turned when they heard a loud gallop coming their way. Sakura was about to leap onto the large stallion headed their way when she was caught by the waist by her mate. She was about to complain when she felt him leap onto the large horse and landing them gracefully and softly on his back. At first, the large stallion seemed uncertain about the second rider, but since she was there, he would not buck to get rid him, as he may injure his leader. They had determined that even though heavily loaded, the mare could take an extra passenger and the monk would be riding her.

They were about to leave when Sakura noticed a small bird of prey circling. She turned to the old demon and asked: "Would you happen to have a long, heavy leather glove? A heavy gauntlet would also do the trick..." She saw him think for a second and then ran into his house. He came out with a box filled with falconer's equipment and said: "Could any of this be of use? It was my eldest pup's hobby, but he stopped when he got mated..." When he saw her eyes glowing, he chuckled as he gave her the box and said: "Here you go my lady; you will have more use for it than I will." Sakura thanked him profusely, as she slipped on one of the gloves, as the gauntlets were clearly too large for her, and would not serve her purpose. She held out her hand and let out a sharp whistle. Instants later, a small hawk landed on her gloved arm, glowering intently at the demon lord. The old dog demon couldn't help but roar out in laughter as he said: "Did I not tell you pup, he has to be her father's reincarnated soul... Not even I could muster such look!"

Sesshoumarou sighed and pushed aside his kimono to reveal his matting mark. He did the same with his alpha to show the man that he had not wronged her, on the contrary; he was waiting for her approval. The hawk seemed satisfied with what he saw, as he nuzzled his head in her neck to show his affection towards her. She giggled as his feathers tickled her neck. She gave a sign of the head, to indicate to the monk that they were ready to go.

As they left, she said: "I don't know if you can understand me..." The small bird looked her in the eyes and nodded. She sighed in relief as she said: "Good, it will save us time. I will resume the events that have taken place in the past few days, and will ask of your opinion upon my return. Unless my demon was incorrect, you were my father's strategist, were you not?" The bird nodded once more. Sakura took it as a cue to continue: "Great! Sesshoumarou and I will be gone for four weeks. We will go back to my time, as rumours indicate that we may be in danger. During that time, you will ponder the information that I have given you and upon my return, we will discuss the future of our lands." When she saw him turn his head in a questioning way she added: "Once we return, we will be mated, and our demonic auras will be unsealed..." She was interrupted by a loud indignant squawk coming from the bird, as it resumed glaring at Sesshoumarou.

Sakura's aura flared in anger, and she ended up having a ball of feathers rolled on her arm, as the small bird had hidden his head out of fear, a nervous horse flaring his nostrils and panting heavily and a demon lord clutched to her back letting out a soothing rumble to try and calm her. She said, her voice cold and somewhat unnatural for her: "I will have none of that. I have stated that I will be returning with my mate and that upon my return, we will officially be mated. Before you judge him or myself for that matter, you will listen to the whole story." When he heard that her voice was cold but held no anger towards him, the little hawk pulled his head from his plumage and looked at her with uncertain eyes. He was grateful that her mate was trying to sooth her, as he felt as though she would have plucked every last feather from his body. With avid interest, he listened as she told what had happened to her over the past few days, starting upon her arrival to this time all the way to the mating and the reason for their departure to the future.

Though he could not speak directly to them, Sakura somehow felt that he was now in a more positive disposition when it came to their impromptu mating, and their leaving for a few weeks. She then said, calmly: "I have left out my own opinion on the subject, as I want you to look at this situation with fresh eyes, as well as with you knowledge of the internal politics at the time. Though very well versed in the subject, my mate was too young at the time, and I need the input from someone who was behind the scenes when it all started. I want you to think of what our future steps should be, as well as who could be behind it all. Ponder the words of the priest, as they might give us an idea of what is to come. While in the future, I will try to seek out fortune tellers of all kind to try and master my gift. I will also conjure all the literature that I might be able to find on old demon literature and history, and see if I can find something about this demon. From the vision I have had, it is a scorpion demon that is behind it all. I do remember of an old tale from Egypt about the Scorpion King, but I doubt that the two are related, though I will not completely disregard the tale..."

Their timing had been perfect, as she was nearly finished with her instructions and they had arrived in the small village which they had left a few days ago. She then said: "My demon said that there is a third council member awaiting my return, is that correct?" The bird once again nodded, she then added: "Do you happen to know where he is?" He nodded once again. She smiled and said: "Very well, we will need all the help we can get... please retrieve him while I am gone, so that we are all assembled upon my return." The hawk gave her the equivalence of a bow before flying off her arm. They both dismounted as the familiar silhouette of a certain half-demon was walking towards them.

Inuyasha had spotted his brother's aura from a distance and had left to meet them before they arrived into the village, as he did not was to create a commotion. He was quite surprised to see him and a small demoness leap off the largest horse he had ever seen. He then said: "Keh, brother, size is not all you know, you have to know what to do with it..." Sesshoumarou sneered at his half brother's comment and said: "Some of us are blessed with both, little brother, as you can see we had perfect control of this magnificent stallion..."

Sakura was getting slightly irked at the display between the two brothers and was about to say something when the half demon spoke: "So, who's the new broad? You came to parade her around town?..." Inuyasha nearly bit his own tongue when he was crushed by one of the most powerful auras he had ever felt. His entire body felt as though he was being buried under a mountain of spiritual energy. He fell to his knees, panting. He was about to collapse when a delicate clawed hand grabbed him by the collar and threw him against a tree. She came up to him and held his neck in her hand threateningly. He then noticed her turquoise eyes and panicked as he said: "Miko Sakura, is that you, I did not recognize you... Please forgive me..." Tears of stress started welling up in his eyes. She had saved her pups and mate, and now he had just acted like a jerk.

He saw Sesshoumarou coil his arm around her small frame and let out a deep rumble. It seemed to do the trick, through she did not remove her hand from his neck right away, choosing to let out a menacing snarl out as a warning. Sesshoumarou lowered his mouth to her ear and said: "Though it would do me no greater pleasure than to offer you the whelp's head as a mating present, if you kill him now I will have to return to my castle immediately." Sakura's eyes narrowed as she released the half demon and said: "Fine, just make sure he stays out of my way for the time that we are here." She walked away from them, stomping her feet angrily.

Sesshoumarou chuckled when he saw his half brother hiding behind him, throwing quick glances over his brother's shoulder, to ensure that she wasn't coming back with a vengeance. That's when he noticed that his older brother's scent had changed. It now had warmer undertones and a softer, almost delicate note to it. He then narrowed his eyes and said: "You two mated..." Sesshoumarou glanced back at him and said: "Not fully. That is why we are going to the future; to protect her from a strong enemy and to complete the mating..." He was interrupted by Inuyasha's snicker as he said: "Enemy? Who would be stupid enough to go after her? She would probably have scared Naraku shitless... Where was she during that battle... It would have ended so much faster, she would have kicked his ass!" Sesshoumarou shook his head and said: "Little brother, your eloquence never ceases to amaze me..." He turned around and headed in the same direction his alpha went.

Sesshoumarou then heard his brother come closer to him and take in a deep sniff as gasp at what he smelled. Sesshoumarou halted in his tracks and said: "Say what is on your mind, whelp."He turned around to see a blushing half demon. He seemed embarrassed to speak, but Sesshoumarou's ardent gaze made him squirm while he spoke: "She marked you, did she not?" Sesshoumarou only nodded as an answer. Inuyasha wrung out his hands nervously and said: "Did you mark her? I did not get your scent off her..."

Sesshoumarou was losing what little patience the boy he had and said harshly: "That is what we are going to take care of in the future... For all of the god's sake, what is wrong with you all of the sudden?" The younger man then said, in a blurb so fast that if Sesshoumarou had not been paying attention, he would have not even understood one word: "Well you know how father was not there to raise me, so I don't know much about demon society and all, and I don't know about hierarchy, and don't get me wrong because I mean no disrespect towards your lady and know that she is strong and all... but isn't it a little out of character for you to let a human miko be your alpha?..."

When Inuyasha saw Sesshoumarou's lips twitch, he felt that he would be crossing to the plains of after life before his time. He saw that his brother's alpha was watching them, intently concentrating on her mate's aura. The half demon never expected what was coming, and could have died of shock if his heart was any weaker. The dignified ice lord himself let out a powerful roar of laughter, and nearly had to wipe off a small tear from the corner of his eye. He placed a friendly hand on his little brother's shoulder and said: "Come little brother, let us have the talk our father should have had with you years ago." Sakura looked at the confused young man and couldn't help herself chuckle. Inuyasha looked at the woman standing in front of him and said: "What have you done to my brother?" His comment earned him a second fit of laughter. Sesshoumarou answered in a playful tone: "Little brother, if you really want to know all that she has done, my alpha will have to authorize me to say so, as it would be greatly impolite towards her to discuss these things without her approval." The brilliant blush on his brother's face gave him one last good chuckle as he looked at his miko.

Sakura had watched the brother's exchange. She found that it finally looked as though they were brothers, and not just strangers tolerating each other. She then let out a non-committal groan and said: "As long as he promises to keep his big mouth shut, you can answer any question that he has. Poor Kagome might be missing out on certain things... Especially if she comes from the same times I do, she must have certain expectations..."

It was her time to laugh at the two faces staring back at her. She walked towards her stunned mate and kissed him passionately, feeling the half demon's embarrassment. She truly did not care. If she was truly Sesshoumarou's alpha, she was allowed to display her affection for her mate whenever she felt like it. Not that she would turn to exhibitionism anytime, as she still had a fair amount of modesty, but she wanted to kiss him at this current moment and she did. When she broke the kiss, his eyes were half way close, and she spoke in a teasing manner: "I told you that I would see you roar in laughter before you marked me as yours..." She smiled and walked away, as she knew that they needed to get moving. Though she was surrounded by powerful beings, the thought that they might be attacked in their current situation made her skin crawl. Even though she enjoyed the kick she got out of being the dominating partner, she had started to feel the heavy burden of keeping him safe from all harm. Her instincts somehow knew that it was her role to keep her mate safe, and she intended to carry out this duty ferociously.

The monk had been watching the strange exchange between the demons and was relieved that it ended peacefully. He had feared for the young half demon's life when he had challenged the Lady the way he did. He had truly understood how Sesshoumarou was her equal. It was in his nature to be a leader, but he also showed great, cold restraint. On the other end of that spectrum, his little female was fiery and passionate, which made her warmer but more susceptible to temper flares. He also knew that when female dog demons were the alpha, they displayed their leadership roles with a fierceness that no male could match. From what his friend breeder had told him, Sesshoumarou had shown such possessiveness towards the miko before they were mated, and the small female had accepted his protection, even soothing him down when his temps flared in menacing ways. The roles were now inversed. He also knew that her unfriendly disposition was probably accentuated by her pregnancy, as women of all breeds and races were known to have incredibly short temper during that period.

Inuyasha finally noticed the monk riding on the smaller horse, as he was hidden amongst all the boxes that were loaded on the poor beast. He then said in his gruff tone: "Keh, monk! Are you along for the ride or only here to get a good show?" The Monk smiled politely and answered: "I'm only a friend of a friend. I came along since a friend of mine, another monk, as recently had children. I came to offer my congratulations. Would you happen to know a monk know as Miroku?" Inuyasha smiled proudly and said: "Yeah, I know him! The perverted monk is in the village visiting my new family" Sesshoumarou noticed the pride in his little brother's voice and smiled as he felt the same towards his own mate and future family. He then felt his alpha's temper flare and rushed to her as she said in a low voice, a mere whisper: "Perverted monk?"

Sesshoumarou's chest cringed at her words and he whispered in her ear: "Nothing to worry, he's only a lecherous man, who enjoys groping women a little too much. You will see that the man is quite charming. He has played a key role in the destruction of Naraku..." He felt her aura flare down and heard her say, her voice still low: "Please tell them that if any of his appendages come in contact with any parts of my body, thus said appendage will be swiftly removed and be part of my next meal." Sesshoumarou felt the seriousness of the threat, and kissed her on her temple and said: "He will be warned, my love"

Sakura moved away from her mate and continued her route to the small village. She concentrated on the sounds of the forest and it helped her calm down. She had regained every ounce of her control when they finally arrived to the old miko's familiar hut. Kaede stepped out to greet them, followed by Rin, who glued herself to Sesshoumarou's hip. Sakura smiled warmly at the little girl, and was surprised when Sesshoumarou pushed her away slightly before saying: "Rin, in the future, you will always greet my mate before you greet me, out of politeness. Is that understood?"

Rin nodded and ran towards the miko and hugged her with all the might her little body could muster. She then said: "Rin finds you pretty. You have changed since we last saw you. You really are as beautiful as a blossom!" Sakura patted the little girl on the head and then lowered herself to make eye contact with her. She then said: "Tell me Rin, do you miss Sesshoumarou?" She noticed the young girl's eyes cloud as she said: "Lord Sesshoumarou wants Rin to learn what it is to be human so that Rin may choose where to live..."

Sakura then straightened up and looked at her mate and said: "This village has Kaede, as well as Kagome, who will one day replace her. I need an eager apprentice. Would any here see offense that Rin, upon our return in four weeks, comes back with me to be trained as a healer, as she seems to show great talent in that art? Once her training is complete, she can then choose to stay and take an apprentice herself, or leave to become the head miko of a village in need." She saw a light in her demon's eyes, as what she had just done pleased him greatly. She saw the little girl bounce up and down with happiness. Sakura pushed the little girl towards the demon lord and saw her resume her position at his waist. She could not help but find the little girl's enthusiasm endearing. Sakura knew that the month to come would, for the most part, be extremely unpleasant. This would give her something to look forward to.

They all heard voices coming from the hunt. Fist exited an exuberant monk who said: "Did I hear Rin speak of a woman as beautiful as a blossom? I must challenge that as my beautiful Sango holds that title..." He was flabbergasted by the sight in front of him. The beauty standing a few feet from him was mesmerizing. As he approached towards her, as he did most women, as part of his tactics to bear hug them and get a better feel of their bodies, he could hear the clear ripple of growls breaking the air. Miroku had never seen the two brothers agree nor cooperate on anything in all of their encounters, but he was now facing two seriously pissed off dog demons.

He slowly backed away from the creature standing in front of him, and he saw her dart off and hide behind the demon lord. He knelt down and listened to his instincts and said: "I apologize greatly to the lady if my antics startled her. I am a very friendly person, and come off often as being inappropriate." He then picked up something off her aura, something hidden and protected; a deep fear of something, of something that had injured her very soul. A mental picture formed in his mind of an abused child and he had to stop himself from gagging. He then said in a quiet, sober tone: "Please be assured my Lady, that it was not my intentions to scare you. I would never think of doing anything inappropriate to you." Miroku had hoped that this was enough to calm the woman who was now leaning on the demon lord for support.

Sakura had been startled by the man who had come out of the hut. She had gone through so much with her mate, and Sesshoumarou had already started healing many of her unseen wounds. She was not ready to face the monk's attire from up close yet. She decided to face him using some of her demon's strength. She circled him and stood in from of him, leaning slightly into his chest. He understood her unspoken request and wrapped his arms around her core. Sakura let his warmth envelop her. She then spoke when she felt her voice was steady enough: "I apologize, Miroku. It was not your fault, and though you startled me, there was no need for me to react this way. Hikaru, Miroku, I have a humble request... We will not be staying long in this village. I mean no disrespect in this request, but would you terribly mind changing clothes, into something less..." Miroku's eyes lit up as he said: "No problem, my Lady, I will change right away! Come Hikaru, I have something for you as well."

As both males disappeared into the small hut, Sakura felt her body abandon her as she went as limp as a rag doll. Sesshoumarou lifted her bridal style and said to the old miko: "She needs to eat. Anything raw will do the trick. Also, brother, she needs some of your special liver concoction and she asked that you teach me how to prepare it." Sesshoumarou was slightly tensed due to the fact that his mate was now drained of her precious energy. He suspected that the harm was more emotional than physical, but he would not chance it. He went under a tree with his fare and settled her in a comfortable position on his lap. The older miko rushed back with a pair of freshly killed hares. He suspected Inuyasha had gone and killed them right away, following his orders. The old miko started to skin one of them, and held out choice pieces to the demon lord. He picked them up and positioned them in front of his miko's mouth.

When still unresponsive, he wriggled some of the warm flesh on her lips, hoping to call out her baser instincts. His efforts were rewarded, as she snatched the piece from his hand, making him smile warmly down at her. He continued feeding her in such a matter until both animals had been stripped of their flesh and price organs were eaten. He had felt that his little miko had eaten enough, as she had now laid her head on his chest and was preparing herself for a nap.

The old miko looked back at him, sending him an inquiring glance. He looked at her and bowed his head slightly, thanking her for her help with the little miko. Kaede took it as her cue to leave, and return to her hut. She saw Inuyasha return with a frightening amount of slaughtered animals. She then said: "Pray tell, child, what ye plan to do with all these?" The half demon smiled and said: "My brother has asked me to prepare and share an old family recipe for his alpha. Their livers are needed... I thought that if we gathered every one, we could preserve the meat for harsher times..." Kaede smiled back at him and said: "Ye are right; I will gather all available hands to help."

Inuyasha truly did not care whether the meat was going to be saved or not. For the first time in his life, his brother had actually treated him like a member of his pack, and had made him feel like family. He had asked him to help his alpha, and so he would. Since all he needed were the livers, he quickly slit the bellies of the creatures he slew and withdrew the precious organ. His instincts told him to also withdraw the hearts, as they might be useful. He then withdrew all that was necessary to prepare the brew, and went close to the spot where his brother had taken his intended. He started a fire not to close to them, so he wouldn't wake her with the harsh smells. He also knew that he was close enough for his brother to hear his every explanations, so he started preparing his family recipe, making sure that he was giving detailed descriptions of all the steps. Oncee he finished preparing it, he handed one cup of the mixture to Sesshoumarou, and watched as he held it to her lips.

She gulped it down, as it did taste quite awful and she wanted to get it done as quickly as possible. Sesshoumarou handed the cup back to Inuyasha who filed it once more, and gave it back to his brother. He brought it back to her lips and she swallowed it again all at once. Once he handed the cup back to Inuyasha, and the half demon was about to fill it again, she spoke plainly: "If you feed me a third cup of this, mark my words I will murder someone."

Sesshoumarou chuckled as he saw his brother's ears flat on his head as he shot terrified glances toward the miko. He sighed and said: "Very well, if you are strong enough to complain, I guess two cups should suffice." The demon lord did not want to leave while she was still weak, as he did not know what would be waiting for him on the other side of the well, and she needed to be strong as she would be his guide.

Sakura rested her head on the demon lord's strong chest. She wanted to stay in this time, and not go back to where she grew up, as there were so many painful memories attached to it. She sighed, as she knew that there was no use in procrastinating and said, her voice weary: "I guess we should get going, if we are to be at the shrine before night fall…" Her lack of enthusiasm struck Inuyasha as he said: "Aren't you happy to go back home to see your family?" She looked him straight in the eyes and said: "They are not my family, and I am not happy to go back to this place. In one month, I will truly be heading home with my family."

Sesshoumarou could not stop the small smile that crept to his lips, as he was quite pleased with the fact that she already considered his domain as her home. He spoke quickly: "Speaking of which little brother, it reminds me that you will need to handle my role during my absence." As the half-demon opened his mouth, the older man interrupted him: "You own both of us two lives. We have saved your pups, it is only fair that you contribute in saving ours. You may go there with your mate and pups as well." Sesshoumarou knew that he had won the argument when he saw Inuyasha staring at this intended mate's stomach. He then said, hesitating: "Very well, that won't be a problem… Could I ask something, lady Sakura?" She turned her gaze towards him, and saw that he was slightly blushing. She nodded and he said: "Would you mind if I put my ear to your stomach to hear the pup's heart beats? I always loved doing this with Kagome and kind of miss it…"

Sakura was slightly stunned by his request, but would indulge him nevertheless. She nodded and he did not wait, almost afraid she would change her mind. He placed his head delicately on her core, and shut his eyes. It was quite faint, but the small heart beats could already be heard. He drank in her smell, as her smell had now slightly shifted to something more motherly. Kagome had offered the hypothesis that he enjoyed this so much was because his contact with his own mother had been so brief. He had disagreed with her at the time, but now that he was doing this with his brother's alpha, the feeling was quite different. Since she was the dominant mate, she was technically the new head of family, placing her at a similar rank to what their father had held. He knew that Sesshoumarou would not stop him from treating her with similar respect.

Sakura's gesture had been instinctive, as she started stroking his head. She heard him sigh with content, and she could tell that he somehow felt comforted. She made a mental note to ask her mate about his little brother's strange behavior. She felt vaguely protective of the younger male, and though it was nowhere near what she felt towards Sesshoumarou, she knew that she would protect him in every way possible. She realized that it must be part of her new set of instincts, as Inuyasha was now technically her 'mate-in-law'. She figured it had to be linked to that.

Sesshoumarou had felt her unease when the whelp had acted out of character. He knew he should have foreseen it though. Any mate who would be his alpha would be viewed with the same respect that his father would. He also knew that her pack instinct was developing, as he could feel her enveloping his little brother in her own aura. Though she was not claiming him as a second mate, she was claiming him as hers, and Inuyasha was accepting it. It made sense to the demon lord. Even though he had had a pack in the past, he had never known what it was to follow a strong leader. He did not know the feeling of belonging amongst his own people. The demon lord knew that he would have never been able to be that type of alpha to the pup, but his little miko seemed to be successfully closing the gap between both of them.

Inuyasha did not want to go away from the miko, as he now felt warmth within him which he had never felt before. It was as though he now knew exactly where he belonged and he did not want to let go. He knew however that Sesshoumarou was well renowned for his shortness of temper, and his alpha seemed to share that trait. He slowly straightened up and said: "Thanks, that was great." He offered her a small, sad smile. His older brother then said: "If my miko agrees to it, when we return we might discuss you moving to the castle…" His heart skipped a beat as his frozen mind was trying to process the words that had just been spoken.

Sakura looked up to into her mate's eyes and smiled warmly. She then turned to an extremely stunned half demon and said: "That would be amazing, us all living so close to one another! Please say that you'll at least consider it?..." Inuyasha took a few second to shake out of his stupor and said: "I will have to discuss this with Kagome first, but I don't see how it's going to be a problem…" Sakura squealed in delight as she pulled the younger man into her arm. She then pecked his cheek and said: "That's all I can ask…" She released him from her hug and he darted to the hut, overly excited. She nuzzled her head back into her mate's chest and said: "Thank you, I really appreciate it…"

Sesshoumarou slipped a clawed finger under her chin and lifted it so she would be looking into his eyes. When her turquoise orbs were fixed on his golden pools, he rubbed his nose against his and added: "I cannot deny your instincts' need for a pack. Your Sesshoumarou's little brother and his mate will be a good first addition."

Sakura felt quite happy at the fact that her mate had suggested adding Inuyasha and Kagome to their pack. She wanted to have friendly faces in her home, and trusted these two. She sighed heavily and said: "Though it is truly not my wish, we must leave this place at once. My instinct is pulling me towards the well and I fear that we may not have much time." Sakura knew that the half demon had heard her, and that he would be rushing toward the old well to wish them goodbye.

Both Sakura and her mate headed towards the old bone eater's well, and waited for Inuyasha to join them. They soon saw the speeding half demon who was heading their way. He stopped feet from them and said: "Kagome and I will move to your castle to cover your duties while you are gone. When you return, we will discuss your proposition and all its ramifications… Please come back safely…" Inuyasha was obviously chocked by his own words. Sakura smiled and hugged him, happy with his reply. She kissed his forehead and turned towards the demon lord and said: "Well, shall we be going?"

Sesshoumaou nodded and grabbed his miko in his arms. He leapt into the old well and was half expecting to hit solid ground soon. Instead, they were both surrounded by a strange blue light…

That's it for today folks, hope you have enjoyed!