By Nokomarie the Snake

Disclaimer to be understood for all I write: I own nothing but the stories that I write and the sorry shreds of my dignity. In other words I guess I'm just some pathetic nut who takes other people's characters out on afternoon walks and romps with 'em. They are returned back in one piece every time. Much thanks to Rumiko Takahashi

It was sunset when the two appeared at the hither end of the well. The young man tossed the worn yellow pack out first and then paused to help the girl, drawing her to him for a lingering kiss.

They spoke in earnest, soft, voices together and then left the well shrine and headed for the brightly-lit house. The young man trailed behind, pack slung over his shoulder by one strap. Silver hair glinted in the shadows as he glanced up and around at the high-rises beyond the shrine's precinct.

He intended to get to know all about the great city surrounding him. He had conquered the past and he fully intended to conquer the future.

"Keh," said Inuyasha and followed Kagome into the house.


"Tadaima!" Kagome called as she slid open the front door. "We did it! Naraku's dead and Inuyasha used the Shikon-no-tama in a really neat way and we're all alive!"

Higurashi-San appeared with Higurashi-Jijii to receive the tumbled account and a fervent hug from Kagome. She glanced over her daughter's shoulder to see Inuyasha actually grinning as he watched Kagome. There was something different about him but she couldn't place a finger on it just then.

Kagome was rattling on about the final battle and what Inuyasha had done but Higurashi-San was only listening with half an ear. Yes, they were both doing it. Inuyasha's gaze rested steadily on Kagome. And Kagome, for her part, frequently took little smiling glances at him as if she knew she would meet his eyes each time.

Higurashi-San raised her eyebrows and caught Higurashi-Jijii's eyes. He shrugged slightly and nodded in response to her silent question.

Neither of them was surprised. They had watched the relationship between the two for a long time but now it seemed suddenly to have blossomed into something much more open.

Kagome suddenly turned and reached out to grab Inuyasha's hand and pull him close. "Why don't you show them, Inuyasha?"

The hanyou blushed but did not draw away, simply standing still instead. Both the Higurashi elders stared in bewilderment and then gasped. Starting at the top of his head and moving quickly down spread a stain of inky black. Simultaneously, a complete change occurred. The ears began to slide down the sides of his head as if melting. Eyes darkened to a golden brown. Inuyasha held up his free hand and they saw his claws were gone. Before them stood a dramatically handsome youth of about eighteen or so. The only demonic things about him were the pupils of his eyes, which remained cat-like slits.

"Where on earth did you pick up that trick?" wondered Jijii-sama.

Kagome beamed and rested her cheek against Inuyasha's shoulder. "I've been telling you. Inuyasha used the Shikon-no-tama to gain control of his youkai. He's been practicing a lot and can transform whenever he wants now."

"So, how long has he been practicing?"

"Oh, about three weeks, ever since he got it."

"Three weeks!" Higurashi-San was startled out of her composure. "The quest was finished three weeks ago? What have you two been up to since then?"

Inuyasha and Kagome both opened their mouths, looked at each other, turned beet red and made strangled noises.

Higurashi-San stared at them. Things had obviously gone a lot further than she had thought. "I think we should all sit in the kitchen to talk."

Inuyasha swallowed and turned back into a hanyou. He felt safer that way and he was nervous enough as it was.

Higurashi-San sat down at the bare kitchen table. Higurashi-Jijii sat at one end rather quickly, with a concerned face. Inuyasha and Kagome took the side opposite to Higurashi-San quietly, realizing that there was something amiss.

"Inuyasha, Kagome." She looked at the two and smiled. Who could resist the rather careworn faces across from her. How often had she sent her daughter off in the care of this young man to right her wrong and battle for the balance of the world as a miko should.

But now they had succeeded and it wasn't the exhausted glow of triumph that she was seeing from them. Oh, no, it was a different glow altogether. She glanced down at her fingers, flexed them, and began.

"Kagome-chan I am so happy you have had success in your quest. Does this mean you're coming home? Inuyasha, what are your plans? " They both started to speak at once.

"Well, I, uhh..."

"Kagome and I, we…"

She broke in to the tangled web of explanations before they floundered too far. "Is there something you want to tell me?" She smiled encouragingly, raising her eyebrows.

There was a heavy scrape of a chair and the crash of its falling over. Inuyasha still had not really mastered western-style seating. Everyone ignored that as he made a bow to Hirgurashi-Sama and a deeper one to Hirgurashi-Jijii. "Kagome has done me the honor of becoming my life's mate. She will share in all of my wealth. I beg that you partake also."

"How are you going to live?" Snapped Jijii-chan.

"That's fine, Inuyasha, please seat yourself." Sighed Kagome's mother.

Inuyasha obediently looked about for his chair and Kagome quickly righted it for him, encouraging him to sit in a soft undertone. Where was this going wrong?

Higurashi-san spoke after a few moments. "So. You wish to marry my daughter? She's very young." She sounded careful, hesitant.

"She's already my mate. I will see to that there can be no question and-" He was cut off.

"Kagome!" her mother chided. "You had your wedding without me?"

"No, Mama, never!"

Jijii-chan broke in- "Age of consent in Japan may be thirteen but Kagome cannot marry without parental approval until she's twenty!"

Inuyasha leaned forward eyes flashing. "I told you, old man, she's already my mate! There's nothing you can do about it!"

"Kagome, dearest-The wedding invitations! We'll have to hire the dresses!" Everyone at the table blinked at this sudden turn of face.

"Mama, really, maybe it should be kept private until later." Kagome blushed as she said this and drew on the tabletop with the sweat from her own finger.

"I can do the ceremony and register the marriage from here, but you must sign for Kagome, Daughter." Jijii-chan declared.

"Of course… " Higurashi-san looked around a little wildly and whipped out a note pad. "She can wear my headdress. But where we will hire the kimono from I don't know!"

"Mama, maybe a secret, private wedding just in the family would be best." Kagome's words stumbled to a halt in a sudden pool of silence. Three pairs of eyes were staring at her. Her throat dried and she gulped. "Don't you think it would be easier for me at school if this were kept quiet? Secret? Fewer questions, you know."



"Kagome, that's just too bad!"

"Hi, everybody, I'm home!" Souta sang out as he strolled into the kitchen. "Inuoneechan! How's it going? Hi, Kagome." He suddenly caught on to the tense atmosphere. "Am I intruding?"

"No, " Inuyasha grated. "It's just that your sister would rather live as a woman of ill repute than acknowledge me as her mate."

"You, Neechan?!!" Souta shouted. "Banzai, I knew you would do it!" Souta grabbed at Inuyasha's hands and shook them enthusiastically before spinning to hug his sister. "I know you will be so happy." His face was suffused with joy.

Higurashi-San got up from her chair and hugged Souta. "You are such a good brother, Souta-Chan. Here I have a treat for you and tonight we will go out for dinner and the movies."

"Inuyasha, do you like gangster films?"

"No, dear, you, grandpa and I will go--so no gangster films."

"Well, if you say so." The two left the kitchen leaving Higurashi-Jijii, Kagome and Inuyasha still sitting at the kitchen table.

Higurashi-Jijii broke the silence, clearing his throat noisily, then loudly gulping water. Finally he settled down and addressed his granddaughter. "This is between you and your husband. You know that in the eyes of the kami you are married. I have not heard you deny it. We as a family will support you and we would like a service. It may be small or large as you wish." He paused and fixed a beady eye on her, "But keeping it a secret will have to be your own affair. Marriage is chancy enough without inviting trouble."

He turned his eyes to the silent hanyou and yawned. "Of course, I'm just an interfering old man who wants his paper. Excuse me."

Inuyasha sat for some moments staring across the small room at the familiar yellow walls. He could hear quiet snuffling and smell the hot salt of tears from the girl beside him. He huffed to himself, tamping down on his impulse to pull her into his arms with the ease of long practice.

Kagome bit her lips, looking at the world through a sliding veil of tears. She was so happy to be loved by Inuyasha. All she wanted was to be his wife. But the idea of facing all of her friends at school and having to find some way to answer the endless questions on top of all the lies about her being sick was overwhelming. She hiccuped.

Higurashi-San popped her head around the door jam and waved at Inuyasha. "Bye, we're leaving for the movies. We won't be back 'til after eleven. I've filled a bath for you." She pointed exaggeratedly at Kagome mouthing something that Inuyasha completely failed to get.

"Yeah, doumo, Higurashi-Sama."

He waited until the front door had been closed for some time before he got up out of his chair and scooped the still teary Kagome up in his arms like the child she no longer was and carried her out of the kitchen and up the stairs.


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