Chapter 16: Under the apple tree
Moaning, Markus rolled onto his back and rubbed his eyes, trying to memorise the dream as it drifted from his memory.
"Ah, the sweetest dreams are always so easy to forget." He sighed, opening his eyes and looking over at his wife, trying not to think about her. Moaning, he sat up but froze when he did, reaching up to his neck. "What…" his hand slid slowly over something strange that cut into his hand. "Oww! What the… Katrina!"
His wife moaned and rolled over and Markus couldn't help but gasp when he saw her neck. A thick red ribbon was around her neck but this was short and appeared to have some kind of black writing on it.
Katrina looked up at her husband and her eyes held the same shock as his. Around his neck was a ribbon. "Markus… you're…"
"So are you."
"Who could have… done this?"
"You see what it's like now?"
The two looked up suddenly and saw the demon stood by the door to their bedroom, arms crossed as he waited, his clothes his own while at his side was what could only be a sword. He grinned a little but it was so cold as he stepped away from the wall. "You two… you now wear the mark of the slave."
The two humans sat in bed, shocked. "What? How can you do this?"
"Yes, you're a slave yourself! You shouldn't be able to harm us!"
The demon turned his head to the side suddenly. "Get up, both of you and follow me." He walked slowly away from the bedroom with the two following and led them down to the kitchen. Rin was already up and working on breakfast but she stopped when the two entered.
"Sesshomaru? What… what's going on?"
"Rin, I apologise for not telling you sooner." His hand reached up to his own neck, grabbing the collar in one hand and pulled it. It broke like glass, shards of the metal dropping to the floor and shocking everyone in the room. The demon kept his eyes on Rin. "Two months ago, Isamu found a way to restore my powers. It meant I was basically free."
Her eyes moving to the child by her feet, Rin shook her head and looked at the equally shocked lord and lady. "I… I don't understand."
"It enabled me to leave the grounds, go to the city and contact my people. Once I had, I commissioned these slave collars." He looked to the two the Butenas now wore. "They are specially made, just for them. They enable me to control them from a distance."
Katrina swallowed as she stepped behind her husband. "You mean…"
"You, Katrina, will release my mate at once."
The woman nodded quite quickly then hurried over to Rin, reaching up to her neck and steadily untying the knot and sliding the ribbon off her neck, dropping it to the floor.
Rubbing her throat, Rin blinked and took several deep breaths before meeting the demon's eyes. "Wha… you mean…."
"You are now free Rin. As am I. I have transport waiting for us not far from here. But the only matter we still have to deal with…" he stared over at the two. "What to do with these two."
Picking the child off the floor, Rin held him tight. "Sesshomaru… release them."
"Freedom is too good for them. After everything they have done to you… I cannot forgive them."
"Well I won't let you harm them."
"I know Rin or I would have killed them both long ago. I would have killed them both."
Markus suddenly fell to his knees. "Please, please, don't harm me! Please! I promise, I can change! Just let me live."
The demon narrowed his eyes and tilted his head a little. "You would beg for your life but not your wife? What kind of a mate are you?" his head lifted to the woman. "In fact, that will be your punishment."
"Rin, would you agree that forbidding them to have another slave, servant or anyone work for them… to forbid them never to do what they have done to us to another… would be a fitting punishment? They would have to work together, as a couple."
Thinking it over for a moment, Rin realised that this was a fair punishment and nodded her consent.
Seeing it, the demon turned back to face the husband and wife. "Very well then. You may leave this house whenever you please, but you may not have any other work for you. You must work together to survive from now on."
Markus let out a deep breath as he lowered his head. "Th… thank you, oh thank you. That's… most kind of you."
"I will know if you even try and disobey me. But it is Rin you should thank; her kindness is all that keeps me from killing you both."
"Sesshomaru…" Rin whispered as she walked over to him, looking up as the place his collar had been.
The demon nodded, touching her shoulder and walking her past the new slaves into the grand hallway and out the front door, walking down the drive to the road. Rin paused a moment at the path then swallowed and stepped after her mate, following him out, leaving the Butena behind her.
Isamu gave a loud happy laugh from his mother's arms who smiled and turned him so he could see everything. "This is all new for you, isn't it Isamu?" Walking under a tree, she reached up and picked a single leaf, passing it to the boy to hold and play with.
Her mate kept silent, his eyes facing forward as they walked down the long and empty path.
Rin frowned as they walked and she remembered. "You have been free for two months… why didn't you tell me?"
"Because I know you Rin, you would have told me to take Isamu and leave you behind. I know you would so do not deny it. I would not do that so I did not tell you. And I did not tell you about my plan as…"
"As… there was a chance it would not work. But… I knew it would."
"Because I was doing it for you. And nothing would stop me from saving you, Rin."
Rin was silent for a moment then rubbed her head into Sesshomaru's shoulder when he suddenly stopped moving, freezing in the middle of the path. "You took your time."
Rin blinked as she looked up at him. "Sorry?" But then she followed his eyes and saw what he'd spotted; a man with dirty grey hair in dark red clothes riding a giant yellow and black cat with two tails, fire hanging to its paws and tail.
The beast landed and the man climbed down. "Oh fuck off. You were the one who told me to being transport. Where the fuck have you been anyway? Two years I've had to put up with being regnant of your land."
"I hope you have done as well as your letters say, little brother."
Rin blinked as she looked at the man. "Who…"
The stranger turned to face her slowly and grunted a little. "My name's InuYasha, Sesshomaru's half-brother. You must be Rin."
"Yes… I am."
"Well, get on Kirara and we'll get you to your new home. Everything's ready like you ordered, Sesshomaru."
"Good. Rin, climb on and hold onto Isamu."
"Alright." Walking over to the beast, Rin climbed up and sat across the back. InuYasha nodded then climbed on as well behind Rin, his arm around her.
"Right, let's go. Kirara."
The great yellow cat roared for a moment then took to the sky while Rin looked down to see Sesshomaru also begin to fly, making her eyes widen in amazement. "Well, Rin… I guess this is my nephew?"
"He's very cute. Nothing like his father."
"I think he'd very much like his father."
"InuYasha, when we arrive, you and I need to talk."
"Oh? About what?"
"I have a family now, I won't be able to deal with all the problems of the western lands."
"So would you be willing to take some of my responsibilities?"
Rin coughed suddenly, shocked. The few times Sesshomaru had talked about his past, he'd always been so proud, almost arrogant to keep the land to himself. Then again, he'd never hinted at him having a brother.
From the shocked silence, InuYasha had never expected it himself. "You want me to… take over?"
The demon didn't even look at them. "Only the mediocre tasks not worthy of my time. I'd still be in charge."
With a small yawn and a smile, Rin closed her eyes, leaning back on the other half demon, suddenly feeling tired and relaxed. Everything just felt right, the whole world felt good and she just floated in the moment. She was free, with the man she loved and here with her son.
Opening her eyes, Rin moaned and sighed, looking over at the demon as he walked over with a young boy a few steps behind him, looking as noble as the man he followed. "Sesshomaru."
"I should have known I'd find you here."
Rin looked up at the tree she was sat under. "Well, you did have this tree planted just for me."
Looking back at the child behind him, the demon nodded. "Isamu, go back to the house."
Growling, the demon walked over to sit beside Rin. "I wish he didn't call me 'papa'. He's twelve years old."
Rin chuckled then leant into him. "Oh Sesshomaru, he's still a boy."
"So you say."
For a long time, Rin just sat under the tree, looking up at the simple plant. "I like just sitting here."
"So do I. It reminds me of the day I realised I loved you, that day out in the apple orchard… when you told me, I would always be lord Sesshomaru." His arm held her tighter. "You gave me the strength to continue, Rin."
Not wanting to spoil the moment, Rin just closed her eyes and leant on him and the tree.
Across the great garden, a three year old boy and a seven year old girl stood with their older brother, looking at their parents and smiling. "Well, Conoco…" Isamu said as he watched their father and mother. "I think you might get that sister you wanted."
Conoco smiled before noticing that her parents were looking at her, Rin opening her arms, inviting the three to come and join her. They huddled around the pair, wanting to be close to both equally and just sat or lay around the tree, knowing that they would, forever, have their family.
A/N: Yeah, I'm sure many of you wanted me to kill those bas**** of the Butenas but I just could not kill them. If you want to then fine, go ahead, I won't stop you but I won't have their blood on my hand. They aren't worth it to me.
Well, thank you so much everyone for your support during this story and I hope you keep up your support for my next story. Which I shouldn't be writing as I have university work to be getting on with and these are a serious procrastination method….
MEGA thanks to Taraah35 for her amazing support and… putting up with me and my uncertainty in parts of this story.
And… I hope I'm not being brash in asking but… are any of you out there artists? Just wondering… I'm thinking of commissioning some covers for my stories.
Anyway, don't forget to review and stay tuned! The next story lady story is… well… I'm not going to make promises I can't guarantee to keep, I do have a lot of coursework to be getting on with…
But I will tell you, I have a Halloween special already written but it linked to my idea in 'Bound to the night' (not to self, change that title, it's not very good….)
Well, until next time! StoryLady out!