Kagome stood in the shadow of the well house and looked over at her mother's home. It looked smaller than she remembered. She tried to work up the courage to walk the short distance and knock on the door. A clawed hand closed warmly over her shoulder.

"It will be all right, dearest," her mate reassured her. "She is your mother, and she loves you. She will be pleased for you, I promise."

"I know. It's just been so long." But his words gave her the strength she needed to leave the shadows and cross the yard to knock at the door. It was pulled open almost immediately by a young boy.

"Hello?" he said, his expression curious as he looked at his visitors.

"Souta?" Kagome's voice trembled a bit as she spoke his name.

Shock, quickly followed by happiness showed on his face, as he recognized her.

"Mom, Mom," he called even as he threw his arms around his sister and hugged her as though he would never let go, "it's Kagome! She's come back! Come quick!"

There was a flurry of movement, and suddenly another body threw itself into the hug, arms wrapping fiercely around Kagome.

"Oh, Kagome, we were so worried. You were supposed to be back months ago!"

Kagome felt a twinge of pain at the thought of the grief she had caused to her family. But they had to know the truth.

"Not months for me, Mom," she said quietly, drawing back from their embrace. She saw her mother's eyes widen as they took in the changes to her appearance.

"How long," her mother whispered, touching a hand to her daughter's cheek as though afraid she would vanish.

Kagome looked at Sesshoumaru for strength, before turning back to her mother.

"Years Mom. Almost five hundred." The words were barely out before her mother, ghost white, fainted. Sesshoumaru caught her easily and carried her into the house to lay her on a couch. Kagome knelt by her side. Souta stood back, stunned by the revelation, waiting to see what would happen next.

Kagome's mother regained consciousness gradually, her eyes flickering around the room before finally coming to rest on her daughter. Slow tears began to roll down her face.

"Don't cry, Mom." Kagome told her. "It'll be all right." She looked around frantically. "It's *been* all right." Her eyes fell on Sesshoumaru who was standing against the far wall. "Mom, I'd like you to meet someone very important to me." She gestured, and he came to join her. She took his hand as she turned back to her mother. "This is my husband, Mom, Higurashi Sesshoumaru."

Her mother stared assessingly at the oddly named man beside her daughter. His face was impassive, revealing none of his thoughts, but he had a protective arm around her daughter's shoulders, and she leaned into him in a way that spoke of trust and long companionship.

"Does he love you," she asked, her maternal instincts coming to the fore. A surprise son-in-law he might be, and her daughter centuries older than she had been last time she saw her, but some things a mother always needed to know.

"Oh, yes. Very much." Kagome smiled, and it was the smile of a woman who knew exactly how much she was loved. "As I do him."

Mrs. Higurashi smiled. Everything else, they could work out, she decided. "Good. Welcome home." Kagome threw herself into her mother's arms and sobbed out her relief.

There were questions to be asked, and stories to be told, but there was time for that later.