End of Chapter Fifteen: Opening her eyes she realized he'd taken his demon form, and that she had silver locks falling around her own shoulders. She didn't have more than a moment to contemplate because he didn't waste time, licking her wrist and then moving his hands to roll her hips, with the simple motion she lost conscious thought and completely let go.

Chapter Sixteen: Small Gifts

"Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage."

-Lao Tzu

It was more comfortable stirring against Kazama than she originally remembered it, a lot of recent events could have something to do with that, but she didn't care why so much as that she actually felt content and safe for the first time in a long time when she woke up. Her body was sore in ways she hadn't realized were possible and she groaned as she pushed herself up so she could sit, tugging the sheet around her after a moment to realize she was still naked.

"Late to be embarrassed now," Kazama's voice was low, a gentle purr that lured her with his slight nudge to lie next to him again, though she didn't drop the sheet, she could already feel the blush rising to her cheeks as her mind caught up with all the things she'd done the night before. "With the way you were screaming I wouldn't wonder if the entire block heard us."

"Uh…uh…" Chizuru fought for something to say. "I should get dressed and get us breakfast."

Kazama was all the more amused when she turned an even deeper red as she thought about it and realized he wasn't lying to her. He could watch her winding herself up to withdraw and with the hand of the arm around her he slid it along her body over the thin sheet, and he wasn't hesitating when it came to what he wanted. The demon leaning down to nibble at her ear. "Unless you'd rather a repeat performance to come first."

"Erm…mmm" Chizuru found herself lingering a moment as his fingers teased over her womanhood through the thin fabric, and then she heard people moving outside and cleared her throat. "No, no, I'd like to get breakfast. I'm hungry."

Kazama smirked at her like the Cheshire cat, very much wearing the 'I win' face, even if she was denying him, putting his hands behind his head as he watched her dress.

"Don't you have any shame?" Chizuru hissed, trying to get the clothes on as fast as she could as he wasn't letting her keep the sheet to hide behind.

"No, is there some reason I should?" A golden brow perked at her with the question, Kazama clearly quite happy with whom he was and having no problems taking or looking at what he wanted when he pleased.

"Oh never mind." Chizuru rolled her eyes at his reply; she should have expected that from him. She vanished from the room as he started to get up to get dressed, her heart racing and her legs shaky as she moved to ask about food. Whispers about her had gotten worse and all the glances that accompanied them only made her feel worse. "Gods! I have to stop letting him get to me so much. Even is it's fun…erm no, stop Chizuru, bad line of thought, once you get pregnant all of this will be over…don't think of it like a vacation."

She asked for breakfast, ignoring the suggestive looks and whispers around her today, and waiting outside the kitchen with a hand over her heart. She had been devastated when she thought he was dead but was that just the connection? How would she feel once she was pregnant? How would Kazama feel? He always talked about wanting to marry her but it was also just because he wanted full demon children. She bit her lip, as torn as ever after the night before. She didn't want to simply have him for a while…or whenever he wanted her to have a child. Still, he'd come for her, he'd rescued her again…

Chizuru picked up the food and returned to the room with it, having a hard time not smiling at Kazama despite her conflicted feelings. Was it just more of the connection? She set down her tray and then moved, sitting down his, gasping when she pulled him closer and set his head on her stomach. Blushing a little she petted his hair, still surprised at how soft it was. So much seemed unlike him and yet she was learning more of him all the time. There was more than just the forceful attitude he showed the world, he had been both tender and rough when they made love but not anymore or less than she. He'd treated her delicately so often that it was hard to believe this was the same creature that so often insisted they would be married.

"Kazama…" She hesitated a moment, uncertain what to say and then swallowed, closing her eyes before pushing forward. "…I don't want to be with you just to have children…I…couldn't do that after everything that's happened. I think…I'm falling in love with you."

There it was, it was so embarrassing to admit and yet she was afraid now that she'd laid it out in front of him that he would refuse her. It was certainly much more scary than any time she'd been about to be killed, it was so strange.

"Chizuru…do you think I would go to so much trouble for you when I could have had another full demoness?" His usual superior smirk was on his face when he pulled me down into his lap to look at me closely. His red eyes making her heart skip a little. "You don't think I knew that Sen would offer herself? I am better at predicting people than many others would prefer to believe. I can't say what it is I feel for you exactly, this started as a way to irritate the Shinsengumi but…I like you. The rest will work itself out as long as we're together."

Chizuru let out a breath she hadn't realized she was holding and smiled more, it wasn't love exactly, but there was hope she feared wouldn't exist. More than she'd expected or could possibly ask for; she offered him a kiss in her relief, feeling pressure in her abdomen as he deepened the embrace, his arms enveloping her.

She managed to pull away after a long moment, the flush in her face worse than a moment before and she shook her head. "We should eat Kazama, or I'll starve and we won't be able to do anything."

"Hmmm…" He eyed her a moment as if thinking over the options and then helped her stand. "I imagine it will suffice, the war is nearly over and I can survive not ravishing you several times a day until we retire to my estate. Your father still needs to be taken care of before our group leaves."

"Oh…" Chizuru nodded slightly, slowly eating her food in a suddenly somber way, in all the relief and pleasure she hadn't thought about what would become of her father again. "Can I try to talk to him first? Get him to realize what he's doing and convince him to stop? Please…"

Chizuru knew it was a lot to ask, that the demons seemed pretty invested on wiping out all traces of the blood of life, but the man that was her father…she had to believe that he could be saved. Kaoru could have caused him to act as he was, it was such a drastic change in the man she'd known in only two years…

"Fine…" Kazama let it go, though his voice was cool. "If you cannot convince him then he dies."

Chizuru nodded, pushing tears away from her eyes and continuing to take bites between speaking. "I agree, if he can't be stopped then the man I knew is dead already."

"You aren't alone Chizuru." Kazama commented.

It brought her eyes up to him in surprise, how had he so easily read her, was she that transparent. His knowing smile only made her frown at him a little, he would always be this insufferable and she knew it.

"They were your family; it is not a surprising conclusion Chizuru." Kazama replied to my stunned reaction, lifting his tea and taking a sip before carefully setting down the glass. "You have a new family now, you should eat, if you don't take care of yourself our child will dislike it."

Chizuru coughed, nearly choking on the rice she had in her mouth and taking a long gulp of the tea, wincing as it scorched her tongue. "Wait…what?"

"Did you think it would take a long time to become pregnant once we finally mated?" Kazama asked with a small chuckle. "The stronger ones blood the easier it is, though remaining with child is more difficult. Demon children often don't take to term, you will need to be very careful, though I imagine your healing bloodline will make it easier for you, your clan was once one of the most prolific."

"Oh…" Chizuru nodded a little. She hadn't expected it to be so fast. "I will do my best. I just…it's surprising, there is so much I don't know about demons, about myself and how it will work…"

"Demon pregnancies are much like human ones once a few months have passed, though you likely will be less ill than many humans. For years demons fought for food and unlike humans they do not tend to get morning sickness." Kazama explained as they pair of them ate, continuing to go over the basics and things she should expect, differences, he knew a surprising amount and that reminded her.

"How old are you Kazama?" She'd been curious for a long time, he seemed older than he looked and now seemed as good a time to ask as any as he'd started to describe things she didn't fully understand.

He canted his head at her, possibly offended that she'd interrupted him and she looked down, not sure if he'd answer, surprised at how much food she'd actually eaten, it was most of her tray and normally she ate much less.

"I'm seventy-six." He answered after another moment of silence. "Demons age at a much slower rate than humans once they reach adulthood. I'm still quite young for one of us. Amagiri is much older; he's at least a hundred. Shiranui is a few years younger than I, we trained often together."

Chizuru nodded thoughtfully, it seemed strange to picture Kazama as a child but at the same time she had to giggle, she imagined he was probably really cute when he was still a kid. The laugh earned her the raise of a brow and she held up her hands before explaining. "I just was thinking how adorable you must have been when you were still little. Miniature Kazama."

She giggled more when he offered her a deadpan expression, shaking her head a little. "I'm sorry, though it is hard to picture you as some young teenager training with a sword, you're so deadly now…"

"Even demons need to put in effort to those occupations they wish to pursuit." Kazama glanced out the window and there was just a bit of color in his cheeks, apparently he didn't like speaking of when he was younger. Though Chizuru left it there before he got angry, she doubted he took teasing very well, instead changing the subject.

"How long do demons normally live?" It was another thing to be curious about.

"A thousand years or more, though generally most only live to around a thousand before age will take them if something else hasn't." Kazama replied, knowing she meant a life span without the threats of death ever present in any society.

"Wow, that's a long time, and if we get married you'll want to stay with me that whole time?" Chizuru found questions just coming out before she really stopped to think about them much. It was a little more than she'd meant to say and wished she'd phrased it differently.

"I told you one day you'd be begging me to stay…" Kazama commented, setting the trays aside and pulling her into his lap so swiftly she could barely follow his movements. "Yes Chizuru, marriage is lifelong in demon society; once we go through the ceremony it is much more until death than a human one. If one of the couple dies, so does the other. It is a permanent connection."

Chizuru smiled a little, leaning her head on his shoulder as he spoke, she felt a little tired but the safety his arms provided let her relax more than she'd been able to in a long time. "I never knew…wouldn't it bother you if we married but didn't have feelings for each other? You always spoke of it so easily so I assumed it didn't mean anything. How could you have always known you wanted to marry me when it's so serious, I could have hated you."

There was a tiny raise and lower of his shoulders so he didn't shrug off her head. One of his dismissive gestures. "You don't hate me. You want me in the same manner I want you. Why would I have thought it would have ever ended differently?"

Chizuru just smiled, the answer was so him, and while at first she'd found his pride jarring, shocking even, she'd grown to be fond of it. His strength of personality was second to none and even if it drove her a little mad at times she also loved every moment of it. As much as her future also frightened her, for the first time in a long time she didn't feel completely uncertain about living through tomorrow.

End Chapter

I know it's been a while. I've been busy with the hubby gone and family coming to visit. Though I didn't forget you guys, my muse has decided to fall asleep and I've been having a time with writing things. I think though that this is the last chapter and I'll leave a few things open in case I decide to write a continuation fic sometime. Thanks so much for following and I am glad for everyone that enjoyed it! You can find the art I had commissioned on DA by looking up LadyShieru, there are two pieces. I like both of them!


To my reviewers:

Me-and-eM – Glad you enjoyed it. Hope you liked my ending, it was a little swift but better than not finishing with my muse being so cruel.

Litschi – I apologize for any grammar errors but I don't have a beta and rarely read back through before I finish the entire story. As it is I'm just not feeling anything lately.

DivineRose91 – I have that pic of him with the kiseru on a pillowcase. I luvs it. Thanks for the comments on tasteful things, I work hard to try to keep things vague but picture-able, it's a thin line. I am mostly giving up on drawing things myself but maybe I'd do better if I had a tablet. I might get one later this year. Yeah Sanan would have been a cool love interest and I agree better than Heisuke – he's so young I can't ever take him seriously as a romance option – it would make me feel like a pedophile. Hope you enjoyed my ending.

Feli Beldan – Yeah well Chizuru went through a lot, I figure anyone would get stronger over time. It's a great game, I hope there is a lot of support and Aksys decides to bring over more VN's.

Daisy-chan – I got a Kazama plushie too – it's so cute! I love all the merchandise Hakuoki has, normally the characters I like don't get much merchandise wise. Yeah Harada had what I felt was the most 'true love' arch. Most of them seem abusive.

Miho – Yes, Kaoru was my least favorite character. He bugged me a lot and seemed paper thin really. He had the least substance of the various characters in the game. I've seen that fan art, it's hilarious.

Opiolenion-san – I'd love to see more fanart of this pair, you should PM a link if you do, I really adore them. Thanks so much for the kind review.

Moons-Chan – I figure when one bait doesn't work for the fish, you try something new.

Uchi – Thanks!