They spend the next several days determining a strategy.
Returning to Edo is the only logical next step. While Naraku can’t retrieve Tetsusaiga, they don’t doubt his ability to track down someone who can. Tsubaki, a dark priestess, has always rivaled Kikyo. Kagome wonders if Tsubaki would turn to Naraku to land one final blow against her cousin.
But Tsubaki isn’t their only concern.
Kagura’s absence confirms that she has either sided with Naraku or been eliminated. Neither option works in their favor.
Naraku is familiar with Sesshomaru’s fighting style. He is aware of Kagome’s spiritual powers. They know he will be prepared for them to fight together. His insects may be dead but he has had time to find other pawns he can use as a diversion.
The more they discuss their plan, the more Kagome is convinced they need the power of Tetsusaiga to defeat Naraku. Forged from Touga Taisho’s fang, the legendary sword was crafted with the intent to defend human life. Kagome can only hope that the blade will protect her from the portal at the bottom of the well.
When they aren’t discussing battle tactics, Sesshomaru and Kagome are in the courtyard with Rin. Her sister is flourishing at the Western Palace. Rin has befriended every attendant, demon or mortal, and can often be found studying with Kaede in the kitchen. Kagome is glad to see her acclimating to their new home.
Sesshomaru seems quite content with the child as well. He spoils her far too much, permitting her to have her fill of sweets at mealtimes and purchasing a ridiculous number of finely-sewn kimonos. He even gifts Rin with a suite of rooms. Kagome starts to protest against this latest gesture when he points out that it is on the other side of the castle, situated by the kitchens so Rin is closer to Kaede. It also means that she is farther away from them.
“You indulge her too much,” Kagome argues that night as she settles into bed beside him.
“Some would claim I indulge you just as much, if not more. Yet, I do not hear you complaining, Little Red,” Sesshomaru retorts with a smirk.
Kagome makes a grab for her pillow. This turns out to be a mistake. Since Sesshomaru’s return, he has taken to sparring with her. He knows her style and can read her intentions. His reflexes are lightning-fast. Before Kagome can even register what’s happening, he has her flipped onto her back and is hovering over her. She stares up at him, partially stunned but mostly aroused.
She sees the instant he notices. Kagome hasn’t masked her powers or her scent since Sesshomaru announced his decision to take her as his mate. His nostrils flare and his pupils dilate. He looks feral.
They talked about waiting, how it would be easier on both of them if they were mated after defeating Naraku.
All reasonable thought vanishes the moment Sesshomaru’s lips meet hers.
The only thing Kagome can comprehend is the weight of him, the feel of his muscles rippling beneath his kimono, and the heat of his skin as he touches her. She doesn’t want to wait. Her body is burning from the inside out. She writhes beneath him, seeking friction, yearning to feel him everywhere.
Kagome reaches up and runs her fingers over the set of magenta stripes on his cheeks. Sesshomaru leans into her caress, kissing each of her palms.
Their clothes end up a shredded mass of fabric on the floor.
When Kagome traces the matching pair of magenta stripes on his hips, his eyes close and he lets out a guttural moan.
Coming together is like a clash of wills. They both vie for control. There is biting, growling, grabbing, keening, and cries of pleasure. It’s pure bliss. It’s complete torture.
Kagome feels herself falling apart. Her body shakes with the desire for more even as her limbs scream from exhaustion.
Then a crescendo, greater and more forceful than anything she’s ever felt before washes over her like a tidal wave. As it sweeps her up, Kagome clings to Sesshomaru, the one stable thing in this chaotic storm of sensations.
His teeth sink into the juncture of her neck and shoulder. The pain is as intense as her pleasure. Her vision whites out and she goes limp.
The last thing Kagome is aware of, as she falls unconscious, is Sesshomaru pulling her to him as he arranges a blanket over them.
“Sleep well, mate.”
Sesshomaru wakes to a string of tender kisses being left along the curve of his neck. When his mate reaches his earlobe, she catches the soft flesh between her teeth. He growls and grabs her around the waist to pin her beneath him.
“Morning,” Kagome greets him with a satisfied smile.
He lowers his face, inspecting the mark he gave her before latching onto the spot. Sesshomaru gently bites the tender flesh before soothing it with his tongue. His mate whines, squirming in his hold. Sesshomaru does not relent. If she wishes to tease him, he will show her that there are consequences.
Mating marks are especially sensitive after the bond is formed. The erogenous spot remains responsive to their mate’s touch throughout their lifetime together. Sesshomaru does not know if Kagome is aware of this aftereffect but he intends to teach her.
He slides one hand down along her side until he reaches the curve of her waist. Sesshomaru hooks his hand under her thigh, drawing it up and over his hip. His mate arches into his touch. Their bodies move in unison, a primal dance of push and pull.
Sesshomaru is careful not to break the skin a second time. Though it would not affect the mating bond, he knows it will be painful. Kagome’s makeup is far more delicate than a demon’s. The mark is situated over her clavicle. Piercing the flesh so close to her bones could result in permanent damage. He would rather die than risk his mate’s health.
Her hands claw at his back. Sesshomaru barely feels it over the mounting pleasure burning in his core. He rocks into her, delighting in every gasp and moan. Kagome’s hair is fanned out along the pillows. The halo of obsidian frames her milky skin and accentuates the blue of her eyes. She is a vision, laid bare before him— a goddess he intends to worship until his dying day.
An outpouring of emotion escapes him at that thought. It is vibrant, strong, and pure— purer than anything Sesshomaru has ever felt before. It reminds him of his mate’s scent.
That is the moment he realizes he loves her.
Providing for Kagome is indisputable. Protecting her is undeniable. These are the objectives of a good mate. Sesshomaru suspected he would eventually grow to love her. It did not expect it to happen so rapidly. The sensation crept up on him, incrementally advancing over time until, suddenly, it was there. The realization overwhelms him, a layer of conscious thought even as he careens over the edge into his climax.
He rolls onto his side, gathering his mate in his arms to keep her close. She is covered in a fine sheen of sweat and her skin is flushed. Sesshomaru cannot resist stealing another kiss.
“Good morning,” he finally greets her.
Her only response is a blissful sigh as she snuggles close to him.
Sesshomaru tucks her under his chin with renewed purpose.
No one will separate her from him— not the court, not Kagura, and not Naraku.
The next time he meets the spider hanyou, Sesshomaru will kill him.
Returning to Edo is bittersweet. There is familiarity in the past, a kind of comfort that comes from going back to the start. The forest looks the same as it always has. The river flows just as peacefully as she remembers. Nature remains constant while everything around it changes.
Kagome accepts that she has changed too.
With the comfort of the familiar comes pain. The remnants of the demolished town are a stark reminder of what she has lost. It is the catalyst that sparked Kagome to take action. After what Naraku did, donning Inuyasha’s robe and becoming the Crimson Cloak wasn’t a choice. It was destiny.
As she gazes at the decimated village, Kagome feels the same determined air surrounding her.
Sesshomaru stands beside her, silent while she processes the many emotions the sight forces her to confront. When she is ready to move forward, Kagome takes his hand.
He is wearing the necklace she made for him. It is a similar construction to the beads his brother wore, though these are crimson, like her robe. White lettering is painted along the curve of each sphere. She imbued the piece with a protection spell. When Kagome gave the necklace to Sesshomaru, she told him that it was her way of marking him.
“I bear your mark, as is customary for demon mates,” Kagome had told him. “Humans have a tradition of exchanging rings but I believe this will be more meaningful.”
Sesshomaru accepted her gift without question. Together, they placed Inuyasha’s necklace on the Taisho family altar. They may not have a portrait of the late hanyou but they will still honor him. Today, they fight for Inuyasha, Kikyo, and everyone else Naraku has affected.
As they approach the Bone Eater’s Well, the clearing pulses with malevolent energy. It is another thing that has changed. This is no longer the quiet place where Kagome practiced her archery. It is a trap.
Kagome can feel Naraku before she sees him. The spider appears out of the shadows, darkening the skies with each step he takes toward her.
“The Crimson Cloak and her pet dog,” he sneers. “How quaint.”
“You can come out too, Kagura,” Kagome prompts the wind sorceress.
There is a blast of chilly air from the north as the clouds shift. Kagome turns into Sesshomaru, holding up her hood to shield her face as Kagura slips out of the fog.
“You’re rather shrewd for a human,” she remarks, flapping her fan as she stands by her master.
“Smart enough to see through you,” Kagome retorts.
“But not wise enough to stay away,” Kagura taunts.
She flicks her wrist and blades of wind cut across the clearing. Sesshomaru blocks the attack with Tenseiga. The sword’s healing powers deflect Kagura’s abilities, sending the wind blades ricocheting around the forest. Branches drop to the ground, leaves rustle, and a few smaller saplings are severed in half.
Kagura’s red eyes spark with anger. She closes her fan with a sharp jerk of her hand. When she reopens it, the ribs make a pronounced popping sound from the force of her motion.
Kagome steps in front of Sesshomaru. She sends an arrow through the wind tunnel that Kagura fires at them. Before the demoness can close it, the point pierces the center of Kagura’s fan.
There is a burst of pink light as the weapon is purified. It disintegrates in Kagura’s hand, burning the tips of her fingers. She spits a curse at Kagome, who returns the outburst with a smug smile. The incineration doesn’t stop at the tips of Kagura’s fingers. It continues until the wind sorceress fades away just like her fan.
“Enough of this,” Naraku murmurs.
He stalks forward. Placing both of his hands on the well, he stares down into its dark depths. “The souls of those who met their end by your hand and the hands of your ancestors will serve me.”
Kagome releases another arrow but it hits the wood with a thud.
Naraku disappears into the well.
Kagome races toward the opening and hurtles over the edge.
She is aware of Sesshomaru’s hand reaching out to stop her. His claws brush through her hair as she descends into shadow.
Kagome lands in a pile of bones at the bottom. Gross, she thinks, glancing around. She can’t see anything but she can feel the decaying bodies beneath her feet. They squish and crunch. The smell is nauseating. She has to cover her mouth to keep from gagging.
“Rise,” Naraku’s sinister command comes from somewhere to her right.
The ground quakes. Kagome throws her hands out to keep her balance. Her bow swings precariously on her shoulder and she grabs at her quiver to hold it steady.
What he means to do should be impossible. Kodoku is a form of dark sorcery, a form of regeneration but Kagome only knows of it being used on living organisms. She has never heard of an instance where demons were resurrected to form a new body.
Vainly, she grasps for her weapon. Kagome struggles to set up her arrow but muscle memory serves her well. She nocks the arrow and lets it fly in the direction of Naraku’s voice.
He chuckles. “Are you here to see greatness unfold, Kagome?”
She doesn’t answer him. She’s too busy readying another arrow.
“Where is your lap dog?” he questions mockingly. “Afraid of the dark?”
Instead of taking the bait, Kagome fires her weapon.
This one grazes Naraku. She hears him hiss in both pain and surprise before he continues chanting ‘rise’ over and over again. The words are rushed. He is hurrying to complete the ritual.
The shifting earth sends Kagome to her knees. She grunts as her palms break her fall. Hastily, she steadies herself and fires an arrow into the ground.
In the purifying light of her strike, she sees the bones and flesh begin to sew themselves together. The decaying bits are forming one massive whole— a new vessel to house Naraku.
She has to stop him.
The arrows are only slowing him down. They aren’t enough to prevent him from completing the spell. She needs the Steel-Cleaving Fang.
Kagome shoots arrow after arrow into the bulging mass, hindering the kodoku while she searches for Inuyasha’s blade. Rin told her it was lodged in the corner of the well but Kagome has yet to see it.
As she fires her final arrow, the pale pink light glints off metal.
She darts across the rolling dirt to grab the hilt.
The instant her hand touches the sword, the air changes. It’s as if all the oxygen is being sucked out of the well.
Kagome grips the blade tight as a vortex opens in front of her. The portal sucks bones, flesh, and earth into it. Everything that isn’t fixed down is swallowed up by the black hole, including her sandals. They fly off her feet and disappear past the mouth of the vortex.
She glances up to see Sesshomaru climbing down. His claws pierce the sides of the well, keeping him grounded against the howling whirlwind.
“Sesshomaru, go back!”
His determined gaze tells her that he won’t listen. If Kagome wants to keep him safe, she has to act quickly.
Digging her bare feet into the dirt, she pulls Tetsusaiga free from the earth. The blade sings in her hand, thrumming with the power to annihilate demons and mortals alike. Kagome knows what it's capable of— has seen Inuyasha use the weapon in a fight — but knowing and doing are two separate things.
She doesn’t think she has the strength to hoist the blade overhead the way she’s seen Inuyasha do when wielding it. Kagome can barely manage to draw it waist-high. She decides that it will have to do. Mustering all her energy, she heaves the sword back and swings it at Naraku.
The hanyou’s smirk vanishes as the blade cuts through him— the real him. Instantly, the kodoku is terminated. The remaining body parts are sucked into the void, along with a stunned Naraku. One pale hand reaches out for Kagome as he falls backward and vanishes into the vortex.
“Kagome!” Sesshomaru yells.
“I don’t know how to close it,” she shouts back.
With one hand, he unsheathes Tenseiga and pushes off the well wall. Like his brother, he raises the sword overhead and brings it down over the portal. The wailing wind dies as the vortex closes.
Sunlight breaks through the treetops as Naraku’s dark haze dissipates.
“It’s done,” Sesshomaru says.
“It’s over,” Kagome agrees. Then, with a smile to her mate, she holds out her hand. “Let’s go home.”
Tales of the Taisho heir begin the day their son is born. Rin helps Kaede with the delivery. They are the only people Sesshomaru allows in the room with his mate. He does not permit anyone else entry until he has confirmed both Kagome and his pup are well.
Kazuhiko is the first hanyou to be granted the title Lord of the West. While he has his father’s striking golden eyes and crescent marking, he is equal parts his mother. Kazuhiko’s hair is the same color as a starless night and his cheeks are bare of the magenta stripes that adorn the rest of his family’s faces.
Sesshomaru plans to train him to hold a sword as soon as the pup possesses the strength to hold the weapon. Both Tenseiga and Tetsusaiga are his birthright. The legendary blades are part of his heritage, along with the fire rat robe his mother has hanging in the nursery. These tokens of the past tell a story, one that history will no doubt forget over time. The details will be lost and the message misconstrued. It is of no concern to him how others chose to remember them.
To him, how he and his mate came together will always be the tale of Little Red and the Silver Beast.