Author's Note: And the sequel begins! As we all know, this comes after An Exception to the Rule. Hopefully it will be just as good. If not, just review or pm me and I will do my best to satisfy your Sesshomaru cravings. All I need is a little slap on the wrist if he starts to get unnecessarily out of character. Anyway, enough of all this wasting your time. Enjoy!

Minako sat in the garden, long black hair brushed back out of her face as her violet eyes followed the little girl playing in the pond. She held the dolls that Rin had left behind (worried about the water ruining them), and considered laying them around Jaken as he snored on the rock beside her. She decided it best not to, as the little imp would most likely destroy them upon waking and that would upset Rin—which of course would then irritate Sesshomaru.

Why go out of her way to cause unnecessary drama?

"Mina-chan!" Rin called, splashing in the water. She held her kimono up, but it was no use; the fabric was already soaked. "Come in!"

Glancing back to the sleeping Jaken, she left the dolls cradled in his arms and ran toward the water, splashing around with Rin in a fit of giggles. What did it matter if she was Lady of the castle? Rin's happiness meant far more to Minako than her reputation.

As she splashed about barefoot in the small pond, Mina felt someone's gaze falling heavily upon her back. She turned, glancing toward the castle. She knew that Sesshomaru stood in his study, watching the girls from his window. She smiled at the thought.

Sesshomaru. Of course he would act just as aloof and apathetic as usual when they were out anywhere that risked exposure, but she knew that when they were alone, he would act differently just for her. Even if he had only said it that once, she knew that he loved her. He needn't show it.

Knowing was enough for her.

"Why are you smiling, Mina-chan?" Rin asked. "Is it because you're going to have babies soon?"

"What?" Minako shrieked, torn from the moment at the child's words. "Why would I be having babies!"

"Because the season is coming," Rin said, a silent duh implied. "You are married to Lord Sesshomaru, so you guys have to have babies now."

"How do you know about the season? Who told you?" she babbled. "I don't have to have babies!"

Rin seemed puzzled, and Mina realized that the little girl probably didn't fully understand what the season was and how exactly babies were made. She let out a heavy sigh at the revelation, and patted Rin on the head.

"You can wake Jaken up and play with him for a while. I'm going to go talk to Lord Sesshomaru."

"About babies?"

Mina flushed red, slapping a hand to her head. She loved the little girl to pieces, but the blatant way she spoke sometimes unnerved her. "Yes. About babies."

Rin shook the little imp, who shrieked in response. Mina could hear the bickering slowly fading into the background as she made her way toward the castle. This was normal. Yes, she loved this.

Once inside, she passed by the new head of housekeeping who had not given Minako a second look since she started. Understandable, considering the hushed gossip of what Mina had brought about with the last head of housekeeping. She hardly thought of Hoshi anymore, though. Mina liked to believe that she was still out there, alive and well, but she knew in the back of her mind that Sesshomaru had killed the woman for spying and agreeing to murder Rin, among all the other trouble she'd caused.

Minako stopped outside of Sesshomaru's study, hand up and ready to knock.

"Come in."

Her hand instead dropped to the doorknob and she opened the door, closing it behind her as she slipped into the office. Inside, Sesshomaru stood at the window, looking out. As always, he looked magnificent. Mina hurried to him, her arms wrapping around his waist in a moment of girlish giddiness. He did not respond but to glance down at her. She didn't mind at all. After all, she had not fallen in love with an emotional man.

"What did Rin say?" he asked.

The red tint returned to Minako's cheeks. "She was asking about the season, and if we were going to have babies."

"What insight," he said, looking back to the little girl. "I have been thinking the same."


He glanced down at her, an amused look playing upon his face. "Does this bother you?"

"I—well, you see—"

He smiled ever so slightly, just a shadow of one really, and she realized that he was teasing her. Well, who could blame her for falling for it! Lord Sesshomaru didn't seem like one to joke. If anything, he was the most serious person she had ever known. Well...right up there with Jaken.

"However, I have thought of it," he said, moving back to his desk. He sat down, and Mina perched on his lap. "Mating is only natural during the season. We will have urges."

"I understand," she sighed, flustered before the real conversation had even started. She knew all of this! Sure, this would only be her second season, but still.

"I have called for assistance in the matter," he said. "I do not care to deal with the hassle of locking you away all season."

Wait, why does she have to be the one locked up? Men.

"Unless you want to bear my children this year."

Could her face possibly grow any redder? Perhaps he was trying to fluster her. Of course, he didn't want her children! They would be little mutant human/dog/dragon mutts! She knew it would take him a long time before he came to terms with that.

She put it from her mind.

"So what kind of assistance have you called for?"

"I know of a woman who often uses her power to keep women safe from the consequences of the season. Granted, she usually only deals with youkai..."

"So basically you've hired a witch to keep me from getting pregnant?"

"In a word," he said, "Yes."

"I could resist you, you know," she crossed her arms, looking away. "I did just fine before you marked me, didn't I?"

"Perhaps this is not about your willpower."

"Oh, please. You can resist temptation far easily than I."

He leaned forward, and she felt his breath on her neck, "I do not want to."

A chill ran down her spine and Mina turned back, suddenly realizing how close they were. His arms snaked around her waist, keeping her still in his lap. He leaned in just a little closer, his lips brushing against her neck as she drew in a deep breath.

A crash at the door startled Mina, whose claws snapped out. Sesshomaru gave her a dirty look, and she noticed that she had been gripping him at the time. Flinging from his arms, she blathered out her apologies, but he just shook it off, his skin already healed by the time he reached the door.

Sesshomaru opened the door to find Jaken there, Rin at his side.

"Um, forgive me, m'lord," he bowed. "But there is a wyrm here to see you."

Rin leaned around him to look between the hanyou and her lord, and asked a little too loudly, "Are you guys making babies yet?"

Mina found her head against the desk, face flushed red once more.

The start of another year.