Author's Notes: Short, sweet, concluding epilogue. Wraps up all the loose ends and gives you a sugary ending.

Just to make it clear, there will be no sequel, prequel, whatever comes up to mind to this story. This is the ending. The end of the road. The wall at the end of the alley. The dead end. The absolutely, undeniably, completely finale to Behind the Masquerade.

This story has a special part in my heart, and as you can tell, it has evolved along with the writer over the years. Hopefully, it has hit you all with some sort of emotion at some time, and…that's all I really have to say?

Read on, enjoy, and thank you for all your support ever since the beginning.


Behind the Masquerade

Epilogue --- Memories


She quietly tiptoed out of her bed, attempting to stay as quiet as humanely possible. She felt the sudden rush of cold morning air attack her bare flesh and only just managed to control her shiver. An almost cheeky smile on her face, she shuffled over to their adjoining doors and reached a hand to the knob, turning it slowly so as not to alert his senses.

She pushed it open slowly, but a tiny squeak sounded. She froze, staring into the other room and seeing that the bulge beneath the sheets hadn't stirred, she continued pushing open the door. She wanted to giggle as she slipped into his room and made her way to his bed, seeing his chest moving up and down, indicating his even breathing. Good, he was still asleep.

Tiptoeing to where his face was facing the window, she bent down and stared at it. She smiled.

It had become a habit of hers, to wake up every single morning and simply go into his room to watch him sleep, even if it was just for a few minutes. Ever since that day he had reached out his hand to her on top of that cliff, she had harbored a fear that he would be taken away from her any moment. After all, he was a prince, and wars were a constant occurrence in their times.

But she wasn't so scared now. The worst of it had ended, or so she hoped. That day…she would never forget it when they walked back hand in hand into the castle, him with his head held high and her with her heart feeling as if it would burst from fright. It wasn't as bad as she imagined however. No one had to shed blood.

Sango understood (in actuality, she practically smothered Kagome in all the happiness she could physically give, and then lectured her endlessly on how she knew it all along), Miroku just nodded pleasingly, Shippo was dancing from foot to foot, Lady Komiya smiled enigmatically, while her husband looked slightly confused.

It hadn't mattered that the guests were all in an absolute uproar, and not to mention her parents.

Oh her parents…

They were absolutely furious. She had never seen anybody yell or scream that loud in obscenities before. She doubt she ever would again.

During the tirade they had thrown at her, seemingly having gone insane at their very own daughter, Kagome managed to pick up something about a shame to the family, a man stealer, a disgraceful child in her own right, and more unflattering things. It wasn't all that unusual in her age for some parents to not like one of their children---if anybody actually thought about it, royalty would have much rather have a son. Perhaps her parents had always been ashamed of her, being nothing that they had wanted her to be.

It didn't matter however, because she would never go home with them. Never. And the words didn't really hit home---physical taunts could never compare to what she went through emotionally. And with Inuyasha next to her, holding her hand, and almost attempting to comfort her with his aura? Her parents might as well have been yelling at a tree.

And then there was Kikyou---oh that mysterious, seemingly undecided sister of hers. She simply went in front of her parents, told them to calm themselves and not cause more embarrassment to the family than Kagome had already done, before turning to said girl and staring at her.

Kagome was nervous. Would her sister slap her? Yell at her too? Or---

But Kikyou had simply nodded---no, just dipped her head an inch ---before turning around and walking towards the door, in all her dress and glory. Kikyou would always be a mystery in the end---her thoughts, her actions were something hard to grasp. One minute she hated Kagome, then the next she was helping her. Kagome knew however, that little nod had been a consent---a consent that Kikyou had lost Inuyasha to Kagome and also a final farewell.

Their parents had hurriedly followed their elder daughter, and the moment Kikyou had turned the corner, Kagome knew she would never see them again. Surprisingly, she wasn't heartbroken---more relieved that the storm had passed. Everything from then on had been a blur.

That had been almost a year ago. Time passed peacefully, the wolf demons had indeed proved that an alliance was possible (but she still wasn't sure and never would have trust in them), and Inuyasha… she smiled, bringing up her finger to his face.

Could she?

She didn't let fear stop her.

Brushing away a stray strand of hair from his face, she felt the silence and tranquility of the morning wash over her. It was moments like this that made every day special---the simplicity of it all was what she liked.

Tracing the contours of his face, she admired his features. Inuyasha was indeed strikingly attractive. It was something about his uniqueness that drew her. Or maybe it was just everything about the hanyou that made her feel so much for him. It didn't matter however, because words could never describe how she felt for him.

She suddenly felt a hand take hers and his eyes snapped open, revealing the amber orbs that always managed to stop her in her steps and make her hold her breath. She loved his eyes---she absolutely adored staring into them.

"You're cold," he whispered, a hint of grogginess in his voice as he blinked and lessened his hold on her hand, bringing it to his cheeks.

Honestly, she had hardly noticed the cold air ever since she had been staring at him a while ago. "I'm fine," she insisted, although the raise of his eyebrows told her he thought otherwise.

"Don't lie to me. Get in." He opened up his sheets to let her snuggle in, but she hesitated. What if something walked in on them? Of course, they wouldn't really say anything other than telling them to just get married if they insisted on acting like such, but she was just tired of everyone telling her to marry him. She would…in time.

"Stop being so stubborn. You're cold, and since you insist on staring at my face every single bloody morning, you might as well stare at it while you're warm." He smirked at the sudden guilty look on her face, seemingly horrified that he knew she gazed at him everyday.

"How'd you---"

She never got to finish her sentence however when with a firm tug of his hand and some maneuvers she had never thought possible, she was lying smack dab in his bed with her face in his chest. Oh…he smelled nice…

She banished her evil, digressing thoughts.

"That was completely uncalled for, Inuyasha," she protested, trying to get out of the bed although the hand around her waist made it impossible. "Just because you caught me at my crime doesn't mean I have to---"

"Just stay with me…please?"

Her stiff body relaxed when she heard those words. How did this man ever possibly have so much control over her? Just ask her nicely and she would comply to everything. He had a power over her at times that even she was afraid of. "Fine…I'll stay."

She could almost see his triumphant smirk.

They stayed in that position for a while, Kagome's face laid softly on his chest, listening to the heartbeats that made her feel safe and warm. She could hear his gentle breathing in the silence around them, and she smiled against the material of his sleeping attire. If they could always be like this forever, caught in such a soothing web, she would always be happy. If…if only…

"Inuyasha?" she whispered, breaking the comfortable hush of the chilly morning.

He mumbled something, and the action vibrated from his body, telling her that she could continue.

She wasn't sure how to continue however, all those subjects about their past always being a constant plague to their relationship, but also the substance that made them close. It was hard to explain. "Do…do you think your parents still blame me for all the rumors about your kingdom after the guests left the wedding? Do you think they blame me for breaking your marriage with Kikyou?"

The hand around her waist tightened and pulled her closer, as if attempting to give her some reassurance. "Of course not, silly. They never blamed me."

"Are you sure?" There was still skepticism lacing her voice.

"Positive. They never have and they never will."

A short period of stillness occurred, before Kagome continued. "That's good." She visibly relaxed for a few moments, mentally hoping that this moment could last for much longer than it probably would. Her thoughts trailed along her memories of what had happened in her life, seeing all the pain and agony she had caused for herself and the people around her. She remembered dying---that feeling that rushed over her, as if she would never feel warmth again. She had hated it. Was that how it felt…to have no life but to be alive? "I wonder what happened to Kagura?" she asked out of nowhere.

Inuyasha stayed quiet for a few moments, knowing the story of how the wind demon had helped them in a twisted sort of way. She hadn't been bad…just forced. "Who knows. Maybe she died with Naraku…or maybe she's off somewhere far away," the hanyou answered, his thoughts also wandering back to the memories which was still constantly brought up in his mind. His thoughts were abruptly torn away however.

Suddenly, a ripping cry tore through the calmness of the castle and even made Kagome flinch a little. Right on time. As always. She giggled, hearing the consistent crying continue. "Poor Sango," Kagome commented as she heard someone else scream a rather womanly scream somewhere further down the corridor, accompanying the other crying.

Even Inuyasha had to chuckle slightly, Kagome once more feeling the vibrations. "I kind of feel worse for Miroku."

"Miroku! You insufferable prick! If you ever get me pregnant again---EVER---I will cut off what you need the most! I can't take it! Every morning!" Sango screamed at her husband while an almost pathetic manly voice tried to soothe her anger.

"It's okay, dear! I'll feed our child. Calm down, honey!"

"Why did I ever agree to marry a pervert like you!"

"Dearrr!"

Kagome giggled louder. Those two were adorable, no matter what, even when Sango was slapping him left and right. "I'm glad those two did get married though, even if everyone wakes up to Aiko's crying at the exact moment every morning. It's ritual."

"I'm even surprised those two got married, especially Sango to Miroku. She could have done better, she still had so much going for her," Inuyasha said.

"Well, they did have problems. They had lies in their relationship. But it didn't matter. When he found out she was a princess, I think he was more relieved than pained at her lying to him. Maybe he even knew it all along. Who knows. He accepted it though, and you know…they love each other, no matter what." Kagome felt her heart race at that word---love. Using it whenever talking between Inuyasha and herself made it seem as if she was trying to avoid the subject of their relationship, but she just never found it necessary to tell him she loves him…she hoped he already knew.

Their comfortable world was unexpectedly ripped apart however when the door to Inuyasha's room burst open and a rather disheveled Miroku stumbled in, looking as if a ghost was on his tail. "Inuyasha, please, please help with Aiko. I don't know why she likes you so much, but I really don't know how to calm her— oh plea---"

Miroku stopped however when he saw a flustered Kagome attempt to hide under the covers and conceal her presence. All thoughts about the crying baby escaped his (permanently) perverted mind. "Oh Inuyasha, you devilish dog! Is there going to be another horrendously crying child in the castle soon?" He waggled his eyebrows suggestively.

"Shut up, lech. We aren't even married yet! And no, I'm not helping. Go face the music of your wife. You got her pregnant, you pay the price." Inuyasha 'hmphed' and sat up in his bed, sending a glare over to his cousin.

Miroku's eyes twinkled knowingly at the hanyou's disgruntlement. "Ohh…so you're mad I ruined your happy time…well---"

"There was no 'happy time!'" Inuyasha growled, a blush flushing over his cheeks at what Miroku was suggesting, as he grabbed a block of wood he kept to keep papers from flying away and threw it at the other man.

"Oh shit," Miroku exclaimed before closing the door and making the object hit the door harmlessly, which should have been the pervert's forehead. A teasing laughter sounded from the halls, followed by Sango yelling, "Shut up and get your butt back in here to help with the child you helped make!"

A silence ensued in Inuyasha's room (only really broken when the crying child) before Kagome retracted her head from the covers and stared up at Inuyasha, her face burning crimson. "That. Was. Embarrassing."

"Wait until he tells everybody at breakfast."

"Oh god."

Inuyasha chuckled again, pulling Kagome up so that she almost sat in his lap on the bed. He nuzzled her neck with his head before dragging his head up to give her a kiss on the forehead. "Well, morning dear. I'll go help the undeserving cousin with the baby, or he'll be mauled to death by his wife. Coming?" he asked as he gently pushed her off of him and got off the bed, raising his eyes suggestively.

She sighed. "You really don't have to make the prospect of helping a crying baby so appealing."

"It's not the crying baby that's appealing. It's the prospect that we'll both be together alone in a room no one will bother coming into until the kid stops her crying that is tempting." The hanyou waggled his eyebrows in a manner almost identical to what Miroku had just done a few minutes ago.

If Kagome had been a tomato before, she was the color of a too ripe tomato now. "You're impossible. I can't believe you said that!"

Inuyasha laughed, indicating that he had been joking, and extended a hand out to her, which she took without thinking. Pulling her off the bed and to his waiting body, he brought her head up in a swift moment and kissed her deeply, his hands running through her long hair almost teasingly as his other hand tightened around her waist.

She shuddered, feeling all those emotions she held for Inuyasha surfacing and overwhelming her as she brought her hand up to his head, pulling him down closer to her. She knew like always, that it was always his and her actions that demonstrated their love for each other. It had never entirely been words.

Suddenly however, his lips were gone and it left her with a dazed feeling, as if what had just transpired had been a dream. Oh, she would never tire of his kisses…

He smirked as he took her hand in his, intertwining their fingers. "Come on, let's go save those fools."

Kagome smiled lightly, feeling nothing but content fill her heart as she stared into his eyes and saw him gazing pleasantly back at her. The memories of how they had met and what they had been through played in her mind.

He had never given up on her…not once.

"Thank you, Inuyasha," she whispered as she squeezed his hand, looking down at their entwined fingers. She stopped a moment as if to think of what else to say before gazing back up at him with everything she had in her for him reflecting in her eyes. "For everything…"

He blinked for a moment, a silence resulting as he stared at her and wondered what she had meant.

When he finally understood however, he smiled. "You're welcome, Kagome."


The End.