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His by Drosselmeyer

Chapter 1

Sunset found them near a river.

Sesshoumaru surveyed their surroundings, satisfied with what he saw. It was peaceful. Plentiful. Fresh water teeming with fish would fill their bellies that evening along with the wild pears that grew near the edge of the woods. They were perfect for picking, the sweet, juicy aroma wafting on the evening air testifying to their ripeness. And not too far from the river, a shallow cave waited to shelter them from the night’s chill.

It was defendable and comfortable, and the miko would be adequately warm and shielded from the elements.

The miko…

Casting a quick glance over his shoulder, he spotted her wandering half-heartedly as she looked for tinder with her eyes to the ground. An uncharacteristic silence had followed her since leaving the village where the harsh words of misguided women had torn at her budding confidence, and Sesshoumaru found his concern over her well-being growing when that silence turned into avoidance.

Of him.

It was strange and unusual. Since they had begun traveling together, she had craved touch and affection. It had been a sweet, fragile development between them, but it was one that had served to carry them both through the difficulties of their situation.

He frowned. With far less chagrin than he would have in the past, Sesshoumaru admitted to himself that he had become quite used to—if not fond of—the feel of her fingers glancing off his whenever she had the opportunity. It was almost extraordinary to consider, but the absence of those small, seemingly insignificant actions had begun to leave a void in the space of only a few hours.

Dried flora crunched, bringing his attention back to the present, and he turned to her again, eyes narrowing. Her shoulders pitched forward and stooped like an old woman’s as a pungent odor reminiscent of onion rolled off her in waves.

Something in him recoiled.

Shame. Alone and hidden from the disapproving gaze of others, she still reeked of shame. He watched her, noting every listless motion to pick up a stick, usually deft fingers barely grasping at the twigs she gathered. And, even in his distance from her, he could clearly see the dull and empty look in her eyes.

She was shutting down.

“Kagome.”

Her head jerked up at his voice, surprise at being drawn from her thoughts disappearing as quickly as it had appeared. A stubborn, pink mouth pressed into a flat line, and she shook her head. “Can we not talk about this right now? I—I just can’t.”

“Cannot or will not?” His lips pursed, and he gave her a look, watching her expression turn somewhat sheepish.

“Will not”—that onion aroma spiked again, sharp and sulfurous—“cannot. Does it matter?”

“Miko—”

“Sesshoumaru, please.” Her blue eyes begged him with a desperation that rarely surfaced. “Don’t be my hero right now. Just…just let me be.”

Her phrasing caught him off guard enough to give her what she wanted.

“If you wish.”

“I wish,” she breathed, some of the tension in her shoulders melting a bit.

He tried not to be insulted by her relief.

While she turned and went back to gathering kindling, Sesshoumaru scowled, snatching his hair into his hands and yanking it back until he had it gathered in a high tail. Whore. The word was damaging to one such as the miko.

Securing his hair, Sesshoumaru began to disrobe. He could fume while he fished. The harsh, unnecessary abuse to his scalp had done little to alleviate the ire simmering below surface, and the cold waters awaiting his intrusion held a better chance at distracting him.

When he was left only in his fundoshi, he laid his clothing and boots on a dry rock, ignoring the urge to make right the wrong that bore down on his instincts without mercy.

He had only just stepped into the river, the frigid water swirling about his ankles, when her startled voice broke the silence.

“What are you doing?” she asked, voice shaking.

Sesshoumaru’s mood darkened at the apprehensive tone, but he forced his mask of indifference to slip into place.

“Fishing. Or do you not wish to eat?”

Cheeks flushed, her fingers pulled at each other under the bundle of twigs in her arms, restless and twitchy. “No, food would be good.” She still wouldn’t look at him.

It…hurt.

The realization caught him off guard, and he lifted his chin in defiance of it. He had no use for such sentiments. Rolling his shoulders to loosen the creeping tension in his muscles, he waded into the water. “There is fruit along the edge of the forest.”

“Okay.”

And that was it.

He watched her long enough to see her set down her sticks and seek out the pear trees before he bent and thrust his hands into the water.

Soon enough, slick scales slid within his grasp, and he struck, claws plunging through the unsuspecting fish in a quick kill. With deadly efficiency, he pulled it from the river, slicing down its belly and gutting it in a single stroke before tossing it up on the bank.

Whore.

It was a name she did not deserve. Dispatching another fish, he sought out her form and found her reaching up into the low branches of the fruit trees. He could smell the salt on her cheeks and cursed under his breath.

Another fish joined the other two.

__________________________

For the first time since Naraku, it felt like there was a wedge between them.

Dinner was quiet with barely two words said between them. After picking pears, she approached him to place some of the fruit in hands and retrieve a roasted fish before retreating to the opposite side of their fire, eyes once again distant as she ate her dinner—if it could even be called eating.

Sesshoumaru watched under a rapidly growing cloud of irritation as she lifted the fish to her mouth and nibbled. Her bites were small, the bits of torn flesh amounting to no more than what a kitten could tear off in a single bite, and the pear sitting on a rock beside her remained untouched.

He found his own appetite steadily disappearing.

“Sesshoumaru?”

Concealing his surprise at hearing her finally cut through the silence, he looked up at her across the fire. “Yes, Miko?”

Hands trembling as she set her skewer down, Kagome took a deep breath. “For the record, I never thought…I never—”

Looking down suddenly, she furrowed her brows. She couldn’t get it out. Everything she was trying to say disappeared once again under the guilt and shame she couldn’t seem to shake.

He waited. Portraying a calm he didn’t feel, Sesshoumaru waited as his insides twisted into concerned network of impatience and frustration while he waited for her to speak—waited for her to finally give him some idea of what could be done to ease this discomfort that had unforgivably intruded the small sense of normal they had created together.

She took another breath and dared to meet his eyes then, and the blue fire that flashed through them took him by surprise.

She was angry.

His brows lifted slightly. “Miko?”

“They shouldn’t have implied that about you.” Tears broke free, unable to be kept at bay any longer. “You never made me feel like that. Like what they called me.” Kagome swiped at her eyes then and sniffled before turning away to stare off into the woods.

Sesshoumaru stared, his mask slipping as he took in the defiant but burdened posture. She didn’t cry beyond the silent slip of tears down her cheeks, likely too angry to fully express the hurt and grief churning inside of her. But he could smell it there, spicy and yet piquant underneath harsh scent of the shame that still clung to her.

She was angry. For him.

Without a word, he stood and made his way over to her. When she didn’t say anything and still didn’t look back at him, he sat beside her, leaving a couple feet between them for her comfort. “Their insinuation on my character does not concern me, Kagome.”

She whirled around then, eyes once again flashing. “Well, it bothers me!”

He arched a brow, his look pointed. As upset as she was, he was not unaffected by her distress, and it took everything in him not to go flying back to that village to seek retribution over the tension now laying thick between them. “Why do you let them hold such power over you, Kagome?”

Pushing to her feet, she swung a fist through the air as her voice choked back emotion. “They tried to cheapen everything!”

“Cheapen?”

“Yes! Cheapen!” Defeat pushed through her rage, and she covered her face with her hands, her voice finally breaking.

Her shoulders shook suddenly with the force of her tears, and she sank back down to sit, curling in on herself once again. “It was special,” she whispered. She reddened as she said it and refused to look at him, nearly biting through her lip as she tried to regain control. “And they labeled me that word when it felt like…when I felt like…” Her brows knit as she struggled to find the words.

Sesshoumaru carefully kept his face blank and turned his gaze to the fire, exuding a false calm while his anger at the village women and his distress at her hurt blistered under the surface. “When you felt like what, Kagome?”

Her arms wrapped around herself then, and she clenched her eyes shut. “Yours.”

His head snapped around.

Yours.

Unbidden, a presumptuous warmth heaved through his chest. But before he could reach out—before he could say or do anything—she stood and rushed off toward the river.

__________________________

He found her with her feet dangling in the water.

“I know you’re there.”

Her voice was soft and tinged with the pain she had struggled with for the last several hours. Sesshoumaru could smell the salt trails clinging to her cheeks, and the line of her shoulders was slouched but tense as she hunched forward and kicked her toes in the light current of the river shallows.

He frowned. That water was cold, even for him. “You are going to get sick.”

Not turning around, Kagome waved a hand dismissively. “It’s just my feet, Sesshoumaru. I’ll stick them in front of the fire when I go back.” She dipped her toes lower and shivered. “Assuming they aren’t too numb to walk.”

His jaw tightened as lips pressed together. Already she was chilled and ignoring it, and he forced himself not to snap out a biting comment about her carelessness.

The sound of her splashing reached his ears, and he took a controlled breath, stuffing the urge deeper. It was subtle, but even in the dark he could see the tense line of her shoulders beginning to slacken as she played in the icy waters.

So, rather than demand she remove them, he toed off his boots and joined her.

If it startled her, she didn’t show it. “Worried you’ll get sick?” she asked, and for the first time in hours, there was a hint of a smile in her voice.

It was small, but something in his heart surged. Nevertheless, he squared his shoulders and lifted his chin. “No.”

He couldn’t be sure, but her lips seemed to twitch.

They didn’t speak after that. And though his instincts held him captive to an unexpected and decidedly difficult impulse to do so, he did not touch her, giving her space to sort out the melancholy shrouding her in its oppression.

Absently, his feet swirled in the water beside hers as they sat. The temperature was uncomfortably cold, but he ignored it in favor of the peace that had fallen and the oddly satisfying sight of her smaller feet next to his.

He cocked his head slightly. She had nice feet. Dainty. Pale—though not nearly so pale as his own. Her short stature allowed her toes to only just dip beneath the surface of the water, leaving her casual movement to splash noisily with each swing of her legs.

His eyes softened a bit as he watched her kicking like a child. It was strange. In truth, he had never thought to take a mate. And as such, he had also not given much thought to how such an event might affect him. But he had, and it had. And suddenly, besides the constant pull of wanting to assure her well-being, human, female feet were something he found interesting. Pretty, even.

He snorted.

“Something wrong?”

Looking over, he found wide eyes staring back at him, and he quickly schooled his features. “It is nothing.”

She didn’t appear to believe him but let it go and turned her attention back to the water.

He was surprised when he felt her toe slide up the blade of his foot. “Miko?”

“Your feet are so much bigger than mine.” She shifted a bit, crossing her right leg over her left and stretching down a bit to press her right foot against his.

Deciding to not draw attention to the fact that she was finally touching him again, he looked down where their feet lay together in the water and tried to not let the relief he felt at her shoulder pushing into his show. “I am much taller than you.” He dipped his toes deeper and swooped them underneath hers, lifting her foot out of the water. “It is to be expected.”

A small smile, barely noticeable, spread over her lips. “Yeah.” She fell silent then, letting her foot rest on his and float her above the water. Then, with only a slight hesitation, she leaned against him more.

His previous relief amplified, spreading through his chest and wrapping around his heart like warm wool as it soothed the hurt of her earlier avoidance. Refusing to move lest he startle her back into the unwelcome state she had been locked into most of the day, he held still, staring ahead at the woods as he gave her the space to settle as she needed.

“Sesshoumaru?”

He simply turned his head down to show he was listening.

Kagome sighed, the quiet puff of air blowing softly over her lips. “I missed you today.” Then, before he could respond, she leaned up and kissed the corner of his mouth, blue eyes filled with a different kind of guilt sliding to his as she pulled back. “I’m sorry.”

He didn’t expect the second kiss that came. But a quick press of lips landed full on his mouth before he saw it coming, and he cleared his throat, trying to appear unaffected. “It is fine.”

“No.” She lay her head on his shoulder, curling a small hand around his arm as she did. “But thank you for understanding anyway.”

Sesshoumaru said nothing, but as she sank into him more, he allowed his own pent up stress to release in a slow and deliberate breath before giving in and resting his chin atop her head. He closed his eyes when he felt her reach up and start combing through his hair, suppressing the urge to groan as little tendrils of electricity slipped over his scalp and sent him spiraling toward relaxation.

“You called those women old.”

So much for the moment.

“I did no such thing.”

The combing motion paused. “You said—”

“Miko, I implied they looked old. There is a distinct difference.”

The sour tang of displeasure swirled and mixed with the little bit of hurt left tingeing her scent, and he wondered for a moment at the confusing woman he had mated. When she leaned back to glimpse his face, a frown on her lips, he stubbornly tightened his own as he looked back at her. The miko felt sorry for the women who had insulted her.

And he could not fathom why.

They stared at each other for another minute, not a word between them. Her with her frown and he with his own expression daring her to challenge how he had handled the situation. But she never did. Instead, she just shook her head and lay it on his shoulder again.

“You and that tongue.”

He realized he must have been more tired than he thought when he had to squash the urge to stick it out at her.

“Don’t think I don’t know what just went through your head.”

When he gave her a questioning look, Kagome crossed her eyes and stuck her tongue out, taking him aback.

How did…

Her foot splashed in the water again. “I spend every day and nearly every minute with you, Sesshoumaru.” Her head tipped back to the moonlight, and she closed her eyes, bathing in the glow as if it could erase all her worries. “Getting on the same wavelength was bound to happen at some point.”

Her phrasing was unusual, but he got the essence of what she was saying. She wasn’t wrong. On a few different occasions, he had noticed her anticipating his thoughts. He hadn’t put much stock in it. The phenomenon wasn’t foreign to him, both Rin and Jaken having had some measure of understanding where his mind was concerned. But the miko—his mate—was something altogether new. And it would be a lie to himself to say it was the same.

In truth, it could be a bit unnerving as accustomed to his privacy as he was, and he mentally shook off the notion. “Hn.”

She fidgeted next to him, her tone suddenly vulnerable. “What about you?” The soft sound of her swallow broke her speech. “Do you know what I’m thinking?”

The unexpected question was accompanied by the sweet, berry scent of her shyness, and he looked over at her to see cheeks faintly reddening in the dark as she refused to meet his eyes.

An amused twitch of lips quickly softened into something affectionate while he watched her try not to show how awkward her own question made her feel. Yes, he knew what she was thinking. Underneath her shyness layers of spice lurked, washing the cinnamon notes of anticipation mixed with the citrus natural to her over his tongue as he inhaled. It told him everything he needed to know about her thoughts. But he also knew it wouldn’t do to just tell her that.

She was still pink in the cheeks when he reached over and brushed one long finger under her chin. “Kagome, come here.”

Wide blue eyes shimmered with unshed tears as he tilted her face up to his and leaned down, but when his lips met hers, softly and slowly reaffirming where they stood, she melted against him and brought her arms up around his neck.

They kissed slowly. Tenderly. She abandoned her spot on the bank for his lap, her gentle hands framing his face as she pushed pillow-soft sweetness into his mouth. Her heart had been razed open and left bleeding, wounded and emotionally spent by unfair, harsh words and the bruise of everything that had happened since Naraku’s fall. And now, under the cover of darkness, she sought the comfort and connection that came when they touched.

He wasn’t prepared for the possessive, defiant throbbing that tightened his ribs and renewed his earlier tension, and he circled his arms around her pulling her close.

“Sesshoumaru?”

He struggled to speak. His arm felt heavy as he reached up and curled a tendril of her hair around his finger, bringing it close to inhale her scent. Both the pungent scent of onions and shy berry had disappeared, leaving behind the juicy orange and bright lemon that now mixed with his own.

He buried his face in her neck, breathing her in until the smell of them blocked out the memory of her shame and felt her hand tangle in his own hair. Her other rubbed at his back, and he let himself sag against her, swallowing her with himself.

She laughed suddenly, the sound a bit watery, and her arms tightened around him.  “These hugs are something you should have never hidden from the world, Sesshoumaru.”

He simply closed his eyes and smiled into her skin, holding her closer.

Laughing more, Kagome pulled back just enough to glimpse him. Her features were soft, peace once again on her face, and the citrus bloomed brighter, washing over him like the first rays of sun cracking through the clouds after a storm.

Whore.

The word burned away inside of him, and he lifted her hand, closing his eyes as he pressed a kiss to her palm.

Those village women were wrong.

She was his.

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A/N: Thank you for reading! I hope you enjoyed, and if you have a moment to leave your thoughts, they are very much appreciated. I hope this finds everyone healthy and staying safe! <3

   
 

INUYASHA © Rumiko Takahashi/Shogakukan • Yomiuri TV • Sunrise 2000
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