At first, Sesshoumaru hadn’t wanted to resume the usual routine of the morning practice so soon. For one, it did not feel right to run through the usual exercise without Kagome.
The bigger reason, though, was that his instincts insisted he rather hover on his mate’s bedside – but Kagome had grown irate of him, going so far as accusing him of fussing.
Such a mortal insult coupled with the way the young had been badgering him endlessly for their training to resume had persuaded him in the end.
Now, standing out in the practice yard, Sesshoumaru was glad he had given in. Yukimaru’s golden eyes – a mirror image of his own – were so serious in their concentration they made him look older than his actual years. He was so focused in the practise, that even his silver-white hanyou ears lay still atop his head for once. The boy brought down the practice sword over and over again, the movements a little choppy still.
But that didn’t matter. His moves would smooth over time, and he was only five years old. Right now Sesshoumaru’s main concern was to teach him the correct stance and how to hold a sword, anything more elaborate could wait.
Kagome would have preferred to let Yukimaru grow a little older before the weapons training, but the boy had been too eager to follow in the footsteps of his father – and his older sister, so Sesshoumaru had relented and brought him along to the practice yard.
Sesshoumaru’s gaze moved to Mizuki, who was fluidly running through her kata. Though hanyou, she moved with grace of a full-blooded youkai. Sesshoumaru couldn’t have been more proud. And even though she had gained her colouring from him, as Yukimaru had, seeing Mizuki with the sword made Sesshoumaru think of her mother.
A flare of youki interrupted the moment of his fatherly pride, and Sesshoumaru’s attention snapped towards the skies.
His young, too, had stopped practising and stood alert now.
As the silver-white dog demon landed lightly on the plains outside Tsumekiri’s gates, Yukimaru’s practice sword clattered down. The boy started running towards the gate. His sister likewise abandoned her practice sword and started towards the gate.
Sesshoumaru shook his head and followed after them.
At the gates of his clan, he met his mother.
Chiyo had Yukimaru up in her arms, propped against her hip, her free arm wrapped around Mizuki’s shoulders.
She forewent all the greetings, and the first thing she said to him was about his mate.
“How is Kagome?” she asked, starting to walk towards the main building.
“She is well,” Sesshoumaru replied, falling into a step beside her. “I take it that you wish to see her?”
“Her and my newest grandpup, yes.”
Yukimaru perked up in her arms, but Sesshoumaru silenced him with a look. For once, he wished to see his mother surprised.
Mizuki caught the exchange and grinned.
They made small talk as they walked towards Kagome’s rooms, Chiyo asking Yukimaru and Mizuki how they were doing. Sesshoumaru was telling how well the young were progressing with their respective weapons training, when they finally came to the door.
Sesshoumaru glanced at his mother and then slid the shouji screen open, gesturing his mother to step in.
Chiyo strode in and set Yukimaru down.
Kagome was sitting up on her futon, greeting them all with a brilliant smile.
“Lady Mother, I’m glad you came.”
“Of course I did,” Chiyo replied briskly.
Then, she stopped short, staring at the newborn Kagome was holding.
Delighted to see his mother stunned speechless, Sesshoumaru walked over to his mate and sat down next to her.
Yukimaru and Mizuki followed him, crossing the room quickly while stifling giggles. They took seats by Kagome’s futon, Yukimaru mimicking his sister’s perfect seiza.
Kagome looked up at Chiyo. “Come and greet them.”
Chiyo walked over and carefully lowered herself onto the tatami.
“You did not tell me there were two,” she said at last.
“We wanted it to be a surprise,” Kagome replied with a grin.
Sesshoumaru reached to take one sleepy newborn from Kagome, and held her out to his mother.
“This is Kirie.”
“And this is Sumire,” Kagome said, holding out the other.
“Greetings, my grandpups,” Chiyo murmured. She pressed her nose against Kirie’s forehead, then against Sumire’s.
When she pulled back, Sumire’s eyes opened and the black triangle ears twitched as she regarded her grandmother solemnly.
“Oh, they have Kagome’s eyes,” Chiyo breathed, a smile curving her lips. “How lovely.”
“They are precious,” Kagome said, smiling down at her daughter.
“This will make my proposition all the easier then,” Chiyo spoke.
Sesshoumaru’s eyes narrowed. “What proposition?”
“Since it seems you are not running out of pups any time soon, having birthed four in the past ten years, I thought you might spare one for me.”
Chiyo’s gaze flicked to her eldest grandpup.
“I would like to adopt Mizuki and appoint her as the heir of Mikazuki.”
Silence followed the declaration, broken only by Mizuki’s sharp gasp.
“What would that mean, exactly?” Kagome asked, after sharing a long look with Sesshoumaru.
“I was hoping Mizuki would stay with me at Mikazuki for a season each year so that I might teach her and prepare her for the role,” Chiyo answered, her voice calm. “Once she would become of age, she would move to Mikazuki castle permanently.”
Sesshoumaru set his hand on Kagome’s shoulder.
Kagome shifted Sumire into the crook of her arm, and reached out to clasp Mizuki’s hand.
“I think the decision is hers,” Kagome said, meeting Chiyo’s eyes.
Mizuki shifted, as the attention of the adults focused on her.
She glanced at her parents and her grandmother and bit her lip – a nervous gesture she’d inherited from Kagome.
“I… I would like to think about it,” she said hesitantly, with a rising intonation that turned the sentence into a question.
“Of course.” Chiyo flashed a smile. “Take as long as you need, dear pup.”
“Perhaps you could try it out? Visit Mikazuki on your own for a week or two and see how you feel about it?” Kagome suggested, her tone gentle.
“That is a splendid idea,” Chiyo said. “What do you think, Mizuki?”
“Do I have to go now?” Mizuki asked, eyeing at the newborn pups out of the corner of her eye.
“You can go whenever you are ready,” Sesshoumaru said.
Mizuki nodded. “I think I would like that, then.”
“Good. Now that this is settled, may I finally hold my new grandpups?”
Kagome laughed and passed Sumire to Chiyo. Sesshoumaru handed out Kirie a moment later.
As Chiyo cooed at the little ones, Kagome leaned to rest against Sesshoumaru’s shoulder. Mizuki went around the futon to sit beside Chiyo and reached for Kirie’s small fist. Yukimaru scooted closer to Kagome. He’d decided he was too big for cuddles, now that he had a training sword and everything. Still, he leaned in, his small triangular dog-ears twitching, when Kagome petted his hair.
Sesshoumaru wrapped his arm around his mate and pressed a kiss to her temple.
He looked around, and decided that this must have been the true measure of happiness: to sit on a peaceful day in his home and to be surrounded by family.
Of course, there was one who was missing, but even so, his presence lingered. He was in their thoughts and in their hearts, and hopefully he was looking at them right now in the afterlife.
Sesshoumaru wished the sight would make his brother as happy as it made him.