Author's Note: I do not own Inuyasha.

Wake up the dawn and ask her why a dreamer dreams, she never dies. -Oasis

Chapter XXI:

"Send heralds and messengers to every corner of the Western Lands. Let it be known that the Inu no Taisho was taken back into the depths of Hell by his own sword and that his household is dead." He paused, looking at the smiling Jaken and wondering if the little toad would start floating soon. "I rule the West. Any laws instated during the reign of the former Lord are null and void. The laws from my previous reign are to be upheld. Send the documents we have prepared for the villages with our previous laws out with the heralds. Naraku should have brought them from the City a few hours ago. The crowning ceremony will be held one week hence on the night of the full moon. That is all." Sesshoumaru gestured a dismissal and Jaken shuffled out of his study quietly, allowing him to meet with Naraku over the dissolution of the foreign troops.

"They will leave two days from now at the latest to allow for recovery from the battle. The Lord of the South will be leaving tonight with most of his troops. He claims the injured will be gone by tomorrow afternoon. The Lord of the East was acting a little shifty about leaving- I believe," he gave Sesshoumaru an amused glance, "that he actually thought he could pull a fast one on your generals and commandeer some of the Inu no Taisho's old troops for himself. Naturally, Takeo and Takashi refused and have his army recuperating between six companies of our men. They'll be escorted away in three days. I've told three companies to spread out on the Eastern border at various locations just in case."

Sesshoumaru shared a long-suffering look with Naraku as he plopped onto a chair in front of the main desk, both of them irritated that there were no cushions. Izayoi or his father had redesigned the study into a stark, unwelcoming place when they had taken over. The morons. "Where is Kagome?"

"I think she went to go clean up her mess." Naraku slumped sideways, trying to find a comfortable position. His nose wrinkled as he smelled the battle on his clothes and skin- drying blood, sweat and grime. Ayame wasn't going to come near him for longer than five minutes if he didn't get to a bath soon.

At Sesshoumaru's raised eyebrow, he elaborated. "The black magic she used against Kikyou and Izayoi literally sank into their skin and dissolved them. It left quite a splatter behind." He looked thoughtfully at the ceiling as he lifted a leg over the back of the chair. "It had to have been a painful way to die. That room reeks of pain and fear."

"Those two deserved it." Sesshoumaru responded as he glanced at Takeo's preliminary injuries report, having just finished speaking with his generals about the clean up of the Western servants and former troops, etc. Everyone who was deemed untrustworthy had been contained in the dungeons at the far underground corner of the Palace.

At some point though, he had to send someone to remove some of the instruments of torture from down there. Even he wasn't that much of a sadist. The silver-haired, blood-strewn Taiyoukai was drawn from his thoughts moments later, waking his second-in-command from his attempt at napping with a balled up piece of parchment. They slumped back into their lazy poses as they recognized the cadence of the footsteps coming towards them.

Miroku walked into the room, bathed and wearing a fresh uniform that he had found somewhere though it was a little small on him. His muscles bulged tightly against the fabric and the cuffs slid over his wrists. "Hi!" He faltered when he saw both of them glare at him. "What?"

Sesshoumaru grunted and returned to the report.

Naraku frowned and gestured at the paper-strewn desk. "We've been dealing with all this and you've been off taking a bath?"

Miroku laughed as he put a few papers in Naraku's hands and one on Sesshoumaru's desk in the important-but-not-urgent pile. "I was helping Kagome and she insisted. Apparently, I reeked of sulfur and other unmentionables."

Sesshoumaru sniffed and then shared an amused glance with his red-eyed pack mate. He mocked. "Congratulations. You are now as fragrant as a woman."

Miroku paused and raised his arm to his nose- roses and lavender, before blanching. "I am!"

He sounded so affronted by the very notion that they started laughing, the joy that had infected their lands resonating through the spacious room.

"What is so funny, my Lords?" Kagome's words made them look to the door, the presence of her retinue stifling their laughter and blanking their faces of emotion. Abruptly, they were the serene image of a warriors and generals, commanders who were clearly able and efficient. The only awareness of their happiness was the glimmer in their eyes, the slight, incorrigible tilt of their lips; and, their demeanor straightened the spines of those in the Lady's retinue much to her sublime amusement.

Her hair sounded like silk as it slid over her shoulders with her movement forward, footsteps echoing quietly in the spacious, starkly decorated room. She looked tired when she stood in front of her betrothed, framed by Ayame and Kagura with Loki and Isabella standing guard behind. The group of individuals who had followed her- a collection of mages and servants, stayed further back, joined by some of the commanders Sesshoumaru had asked to stay outside until he called for them.

Her eyes- the deep blue of sapphires in the light streaming through the stiff, cream curtains, held a bone-deep delight that he knew was going to break free into a dance when they were alone. Her thoughts resonated with his and it took quite a bit of willpower not to return her beautiful smile.

They had won.

He held out his hand to her and she went to him, reaching across the desk and allowing him to bring her wrist to his lips for a gentle kiss. "Well done, belle."

The slim miko's smile widened, glee surfacing for a heartbeat before it was swallowed for propriety. "And you, my Lord. The land knows its ruler once more."

He hummed, giving her hand back with a light squeeze. "You are to return to the Underground City within the hour. Jaken is assembling your guards at the gate."

She nodded. "Will you be staying here tonight?"

"No." He paused, glancing over Ayame and Kagura- looking at the wind youkai just a touch longer. He was debating on including her in the household now or waiting for Miroku to pluck up his courage and court her first. Her actions since she had joined them had proven her worth and her loyalty beyond measure. She was as loyal to Kagome as Naraku was loyal to himself, having found a life free of chains for the first time since her life had begun at his betrothed's side. The depth of her affection for Kagome and the rest of his pack had been easily discerned after the first few months of her inclusion as a lady-in-waiting. His betrothed, he thought affectionately, was just amazing enough to draw loyalty from anyone and everyone she befriended. He traced one of her fingers with his claw. "I will be returning to the City tonight. Repairs need to be made to most of the castle before it is livable."

Kagome bowed, slightly mussed, black hair drifting over her shoulder like tendrils of ink against the white of her red-stained kimono. His kimono had matched hers before the battle- now it was almost black with blood, not that he minded after considering the outcome. She stepped back, smiling cheerfully at Naraku and Miroku before disappearing through the doors with the small crowd of people around her.

She looked back once, something mischievously electric in those black-lashed eyes of hers that made his blood heat instantaneously. Her amusement translated clearly through their connection and he barely refrained from growling as the rest of the pack caught on to his reaction. Tease.

Naraku and Miroku were studiously looking at the ceiling, barely able to control their laughter.

Sesshoumaru stared at them for a moment before lifting the preliminary injuries report from the small pile in front of him. He handed half to Miroku, the other to Naraku and watched, sadistically, as their smiles drooped. His obvious delegation of the task was going to take quite a while to do- and, it was beyond annoying to speak with all of the patients and their families. The inu youkai smiled beatifically at their glares. "Verify the list. We will leave once you have done so."

Grumbling, they bowed themselves out of the room, leaving Sesshoumaru with a room full of concerns his personal guards having organized them by urgency. He settled back into the irritatingly-uncomfortable chair his father had chosen for himself and prepared for a few more hours of work.

He wished Rin could bring him at least one pillow from her collection.

...

The golden-eyed daiyoukai sank into the emerald and gold tinted waters of their personal bathing room with a long, heartfelt sigh, letting his muscles unwind one after another. Dawn was well on its way to becoming day when he had re-entered the Underground City. Beside him, Naraku and Miroku quickly scrubbed twice and climbed out, nuzzling his neck before stumbling exhaustedly out of the room and to a bed somewhere in their wing. He wouldn't be surprised if they just fell asleep in a pile in the hallway. Ayame, Kagome and the children, he was sure, were still fast asleep.

At least he hoped Kagome was asleep. She often stayed awake to greet him, unable to sleep without him beside her. Interestingly, he had the same affliction even though he wished it wasn't so. She needed more rest than he did. After all, he had been trained as a warrior to require less sleep from adolescence.

His eyes had slipped closed as his mind wandered and fell into the relaxing muddle of the soothing, dark green colors of their bathing room, the sound of the waterfalls filling his ears. The sensation of a warm body in front of him, sliding against his own, was a pleasant, hum-inducing surprise. Her fingers were running through his hair and massaging his shoulders slowly, her skin sensually rubbing over his. Tease.

Eyes still closed, he brought his arms around his enchantress and leaned down, nose drifting to the crook of her neck and shoulder to inhale her scent. His voice breathed through the room in a deep, tired purr. "Good morning, belle."

"Hello, love," she murmured into his skin, hands still kneading at the knots in his shoulders. Sleep had dimmed her excitement over their victory somewhat; but, he could still see it when they straightened, brushing noses. His gaze drifted down over her exposed skin, heat and possession burning through him when she blushed. Her eyes showed him her adoration, hands linking behind his neck and hair twining around his in the rippling water.

"I could not have done it without you, ma belle." He pulled her closer, hands skimming down her back to rest at the dip of her spine. His claws tickled her and she laughed.

"We won, love."

He kissed her slowly, slowly at first, letting their passions seep together in the hot water, letting them savor the first touch of skin on skin, lips on lips. When he let her breathe, he was pleased to see her eyes closed, her mouth red. "We won."

She hummed in agreement, trailing kisses slowly along his jaw, smiling as he held her closer. They both groaned at the sensation of their skin sliding over each other, his desire caught between her and his stomach. Her movements were instinctive, making him catch his breath, arching her spine when his hands reached around to play with her and his mouth moved lower to taste her breasts. Slim, delicate hands traced the muscles of his arms, eyes glowing with desire, matching the passion rising in him. He caught her gasp with his mouth when he lifted them from the water, wet hair wrapping around their bodies like strands of silk.

Somehow, he found the concentration and energy to fly them both into their room. The fire cast a shadowed, flickering glow in the warmth of their room, half-illuminating the burgundy sheets and furs they fell into.

Breathing heavily, he drew back from her slowly, sucking on her pulse and leaving her coated in droplets like diamonds over the soft darkness of their bed. In that moment, she was the incarnation of his heart; a nymph ensnaring him with that rosy smile set in creamy skin and black hair, framing gemstone eyes that glimmered with emotion so strong he was humbled in the face of it. She was beautiful beyond belief.

And she was his. Only his. Always and forevermore his.

Her hand lifted and drew him down.

...

He woke to the sound of soft knocking and the scent of Shippou and Rin at their door, bond brimming with an abundance of hyperactive energy. He rose, quietly untangling himself from his mate and pausing to take in the lovely sight of the sheets half-wrapped around her bare shoulders, her hair strewn across his pillow. With a thought, he covered her skin in his favorite blue yukata, knowing that the sight of her looking at him clothed in that color would be more than pleasant later, when they were alone. Another thought brought his own yukata around his form which he quickly tied as he walked to the children, savoring the quiet and stretching his sore shoulders.

He opened the door and was immediately greeted with exuberant leg hugs and joyous cries that carried down the hallway. The guards stationed at the entryway to the West Wing startled at the abrupt break in silence. "Good evening, Sesshoumaru-sama!"

Evening?

He didn't get the chance to reply as the children zipped past him and the sitting room to the bedroom, intent on finding Kagome. Their laughter at her startled awakening brought a smirk to his face, knowing they had jumped on the bed. He was just about to close the door when a white blur shot past him, followed by Naraku and Miroku. Ayame's wolf barked happily into the noise growing in their bedroom, followed by a large thump and more laughter.

He waited for the still sleepy Ayame to join him before closing the door to his rooms, the pair of them eying the hallway to the bedroom and wondering if they wanted to join in or go get coffee. He and Ayame looked at each other carefully before both reaching the same conclusion.

"Coffee." Ayame turned towards the servant bell and he turned towards the candles, lighting them manually to save himself from having to join the mayhem of fwumps and jumps his mate was clearly enjoying. Rin shrieked and Shippou cackled before shrieking as well.

He supposed the excitement couldn't be helped. After all, his pack hadn't seen each other since before the battle two days ago.

Isabella arrived moments later with Kagura and a tray of drinks. The aroma of coffee filtered to their noses, making both the silver-haired inu youkai and the red-haired wolf youkai sigh in appreciation.

Kagome appeared seconds later, clutching a chortling, red-haired kitsune and wearing a smile that made Sesshoumaru want to take her back to bed. Alone.

What were the odds of him being able to kick his entire pack out of their room?

Naraku- obviously having sensed his thoughts, chose that moment to dump the innocent, beaming Rin into his arms with a sublime, wicked smile. Sesshoumaru shook his head and gave his girl a hug, murmuring greetings and tripping Naraku when he turned to get a cup of tea. He returned his spymaster's glare with the same sublime smile he had been gifted with and a suave, "Good evening, Shadow Hand."

"COFFEE!" Miroku's belated cry preceded his extravagant, shirtless entrance into the room.

To their amusement, Kagura could not help but stare as she poured and Miroku could not help but preen. Until, of course, both children decided to get revenge for their trouncing in the blanket war by tickling the distracted and therefore unsuspecting monk.

Miroku jumped, coffee spilled and a duly horrified monk was then beset by three tickle monsters- two children and a soaked wind demoness that was laughing just as gaily as the rest.

Ayame and Sesshoumaru exchanged glances before moving out of the way of the dog pile on the floor, both of them eying Naraku as he crouched behind the settee with a pile of pillows. Kagome petted the wolves and whispered to a gasping Rin, identical, mischievous grins lighting up their faces.

As one, the pair of them escaped into the hallway with Isabella, clutching their coffee like a life line, thinking the same though as. Isabella handed Sesshoumaru and Ayame their schedules for the day. Neither one of them reading the paper as the melee of pillows behind the door started. Something hit the door and made Isabella jump.

Their pack was insane.

The thought brought a smile to both of their faces even as they hurried away, intent on escaping the possibility of crossfire moving into the hallway.

...

Two Weeks Later…

The amphitheater was built of marble and sand, a half-circle coliseum open to the skies and sitting atop the rough obsidian back ground of a dormant, forested volcano. The sea lapped at its feet, glimmering in the late autumn sunlight with reflections of ochre and scarlet, calm and beautiful. The stage faced the audience and the beach, divided amongst the sky, the land and the ocean so that all who so desired could watch the coronation of the Lord and Lady of the West.

Members of the nobility were seated in their finest silks in the cradle of the theater, twinkling like stars with jewelry and power. Those closest to the heart and power of the revolution sat beside them, just as honored and valued by the ruling house. The rest of their people, those that could journey so far to the corner of the beach by the Capitol, had situated themselves in boats and on the shore line early that morning.

The quiet had gradually given way to conversations between those gathered, snippets of trade, of memories, sadness and happiness being exchanged. Just behind the curtain to the stage, Kagome listened to the noise, smiling.

This was how it should be, without fear and anger coloring the voices of their people.

"My Lady, your hair pin has moved." Isabella drew her to the mirror and adjusted something so small it was hardly noticeable, hands fluttering about nervously and bringing her thoughts back to the butterflies beneath her sternum. She smoothed her hands over the obi of her kimono, pleased at the design one of their artisans had created, trying to distract herself from her nerves.

The kimono itself was embroidered with blue and black into white silk so that cloth shimmered like the sea whenever she moved. The extravagant simplicity of the outer robe was complimented by the white and silver obi tied intricately behind her, and the crescent moon which shone from her left shoulder. At her throat and ears lay Sesshoumaru's mating gift to her, a necklace and earrings of diamonds and sapphires. The scarlet marks of his power, now theirs, striped her cheeks like his.

As if conjured by her thoughts, her mate stepped behind her in the mirror, meeting her eyes and lifting his hands to her shoulders. He was tense, excited, his voice rumbling with his own barely-concealed nerves. "Are you ready, belle?"

The smile she could see in his eyes and feel in their bond made her melt. The memory of his distraction at her beauty when she had first found her way to the theater made her smile teasingly, eyes lighting up. "Are you, beloved?"

Their pack left behind them to take their places on the dais, starting the swell of cheers as they continued to gaze at each other through the mirror. Kagome's eyes broke away to drift appreciatively over the contrast of his silver hair and pale skin over the dark, matching kimono. The gleam in his eyes had changed when she looked at him once more. Her breath caught.

Moments later, the sound died and Jaken's voice rang out. "Lord Sesshoumaru Taisho and Lady Kagome Taisho of the Western Lands!"

Cued by the servants, they stepped out and away from the parted curtains, smiling at the roar of the crowds, the sun shining on the golden circlets they wore. They stopped at the edge of the dais before the thrones and together, with a gesture that encompassed everyone gathered, bowed at the torso.

As they rose, their people bowed in return, deeper and more sincere, their trust and loyalty humbling Sesshoumaru. He swallowed with emotion, eyes moistening at the pride with which he and his mate were clearly beheld.

Kagome squeezed his hand as they settled onto the thrones and the Court Poet took his place at the base of the dais, beginning the Commemoration Ceremony. She continued to hold his hand as they listened to the story of their revolution echo in the air and over the sea to wrap their people in history.

The sun continued its journey over the sky as the tale unfolded, lighting up the day and the many days to come.

The West was strong.

...

Author's Note: It's…. done…. WHAT DO I DO NOW?! OMG. :'(