"And Then…" for "Fruits Basket"

Epilogue

Tohru sighed contentedly, soaking up the warm, late afternoon sunlight that was shining down on her. The rocking chair Shigure had put out on his porch for her had become one of her favorite spots. It offered a beautiful view of the yard, which was resplendent in the colors of late summer. Bright orange daylilies planted in the flowerbeds near the porch were beginning to close for the evening, and long tree shadows were stretching out over the grass. Tohru watched with delighted as a pair of audacious sparrows flew right up to her feet to perch on a shallow bowl of water she sometimes left out for them. They bobbed their perky little heads down for a few gulps and then tore off again to the maple where they had a nest. Their own little home.

Tohru smiled as she watched them for a while. They flittered about the yards, gathering up bits of grass and twigs. Pretty soon there would be eggs in that nest, and a new family. For perhaps the hundredth time that day, she ran her fingers over her large, bloated melon of a stomach. She made a delighted little gasp when she felt the baby kick.

Tohru's eyes fell on the thick, leather bound book in her lap. She turned the heavy, laminated page and admired the photographs that had been taken at her wedding one year ago that day. Ayame had designed a stunningly beautiful dress—a pure white satin gown with a twelve-foot train and a bodice and sleeves studded with pearls that showered down onto the skirt. A crown of fragrant white roses and baby's breath had adorned her head. She turned the pages of the photo album again and came to another picture—this one of all the Sohmas standing together, even Akito, in tuxedos or bridesmaids' dresses, raising glasses of champagne, all smiling. Every one of their faces was dear to her. More photos showed Shigure, Hatori, and Ayame, all looking dashing in their sharp tuxes. In another, Hatori stood near the towering cake with his arm around his own wife, Chiharu, who balanced a newborn son of her own on in her arms. Somehow, Shigure had coerced his longsuffering editor into accompanying him to the wedding—though Tohru believed she had been reduced to stalking him for two days straight to get the last few chapters of his manuscript out of his tight hands. Whatever the real intent, Shigure had Mi'i in a flashy dip on the dance floor. Tohru would never have thought that Shigure was an excellent dancer; he started practicing just as soon as the curse had been lifted, saying it had always been a lifelong goal of his. Mi'i, though, looked as though she thought she was going to fall.

The next page showed a young, bashful Hiro offering a white rose to Kisa, who looked absolutely adorable in her cute, baby-blue bridesmaid's dress, tailored by Ayame, of course. Akito had a photograph all to himself. He was standing alone by one of the windows in the assembly hall, but he the corners of his mouth were turned up in a small, uncertain smile as he raised a glass in honor of the happy couple. He was slowly recovering his health, though his tuxedo fit a bit loosely around him still.

The next picture was one of Tohru's favorites. Kyo, bright orange hair a little disorganized and his bowtie undone, arguing with Kagura, who had caught the bouquet—a tight bunch of fresh pastel roses. She looked about ready to beat him with it. Tohru thought that they were a perfect couple, despite all their fights. They would be really happy together, she was sure.

Ritsu was there too, with his mother and father, each beaming at her from the page. All three of them were behind the refreshments table, serving champagne and punch. The picture directly below that one was of Ritsu's mother looking down at the spot of punch staining the pristine white tablecloth in utter horror, about to go into one of her fits. That had taken quite an effort to quiet down.

Hana and Uo were there, too. The blonde woman sported a wide grin and a peace sign, but Hana was staring off at the border of the photograph as though she saw something there that she didn't like. Another Polaroid attached to that picture completed the scene. At least fifteen members of the Prince Yuki Fan Club—the old Kawaia league must have missed the memo about its dissolution—were standing outside with faces pressed to the windows, garbed in mourning black and snapping a flurry of photos despite their tears; several of them, including Minami and her cohorts, looked ready to bolt if Hana should decided to loose her electric powers on them.

Tohru turned over another laminated page. There she was again, this time on the dance floor. A rather tall, strikingly handsome blonde young man was twirling her. It was hard to believe this was Momiji, the little boy who had once hardly cleared four feet, who more often than not couldn't be admitted on most of the adult rides at the amusement park, despite actually being much older than he looked. His small body seemed to have sprung up to his present height just overnight. It really wasn't true—three or four months was more the case—but in spite of this, he still possessed his happy-go-lucky, childlike voice. Well, some things just took more time than others, she supposed.

Hatsuharu had come with a date; Tohru hadn't seen him for quite some time. No one saw much of the black-and-white-haired boy anymore. Rumor had it he and Rin were still together, evidenced by the way they constantly stuck together at the wedding. One was never more than a few feet away from the other. Tohru was thrilled to see the former Horse, though Rin acted a little shy around so many people. She hadn't quite warmed up to Tohru yet. Even so, Tohru was glad she came. She'd asked the older girl to become one of her bridesmaids, just like all of the other Sohma girls, and it had taken some pleading, but Rin eventually agreed, if with a slight air of reluctance. Tohru supposed that was an improvement in their relationship, however small.

More guests and friends filled the pages of the leather book. She was getting close to the end. Suddenly, she paused. A single picture was centered on the ivory page. There were two people in it. Tohru was one of them. The other was the groom.

Yuki Sohma, dressed in a black and white tuxedo, held his new wife in a close embrace. Their lips were joined in a loving kiss.

Creaking footsteps on the wooden porch made her look up from the album. She expected to see Shigure—with school out for the summer, Yuki and Tohru were staying at their cousin's house while the apartment building they lived at while still in school in Tokyo was undergoing renovations. She was a bit surprised to see her husband instead, home early from work. After taking more classes than Tohru thought humanly possible—she shouldn't have wondered, really, as adept and intelligent as Yuki was—Yuki had settled on pursuing a career as a lawyer. His internship was rigorous, but he was at the top of his class, and already had several job offers, coming from as far away as England and America, not to mention from all over the country. With a peaceful smile that took in both her and the baby, Yuki approached the rocking chair and crouched down beside it. He looked handsome as always, in a white shirt and tie, pulled a bit loose. He rested his arms and chin on the mahogany rocking chair arm and gazed up fondly at his wife, head cocked slightly to one side.

"Is Kyoko moving around again?" he asked.

Tohru laughed mirthfully. "She's turning somersaults. I think she knows that she's going to be born soon. She has reason to be excited. Life has a lot of wonderful experiences in store for her."

"And painful ones," Yuki added solemnly. He took Tohru's hand and brushed it with a light kiss. "But if she's anything like her mother, then she's going to be all right. I know she will be." He then noticed the open book Tohru had been looking at. His calm violet eyes studied the photograph of the two of them together. With a slightly mischievous look into her bright blue orbs, Yuki gently laid his head on Tohru's round abdomen. After a few moments he announced, "I can feel her kick." Lifting his head, he regarded Tohru fondly, adding, "Maybe she'll be an athlete."

Tohru gave a soft chuckle. "Maybe. She could be a lot of things. But the most important of all, she'll be our daughter."

Yuki nodded, grinning. "Not too much longer, now."

Shigure appeared from within the house, a towel over his neck and hair still damp.

"Ah, Yuki. I thought I heard you come home. Let me guess, you're here to steal Tohru away from me, am I right?"

"Well, it is our first anniversary, after all," Yuki responded. "And she's mine to begin with."

Shigure hung his head and sighed melodramatically. "Ahhh. Fine. You two go on out. Have fun. Spare no thought for lonely old me, sitting here in my empty house, twiddling my thumbs and staring at the wall, without a friend in the—"

"Oh, stop it," Yuki told his older cousin firmly. Tohru was reminded of something.

"Oh, Shigure, Mi'i called for you just a little while ago, about extending the contract with the printer. She said if you didn't call her back this time, she'd hunt you down and hang you from the nearest flagpole by your ankles." Tohru couldn't help smiling a little, delivering such a silly message. But those were the woman's words, verbatim.

Shigure sighed again, in defeat.

"Well, maybe a night on the town could do me some good as well. Hanging from my ankles sounds uncomfortable. Thanks, Tohru," he added with a sincere smile.

"Well, Mrs. Sohma," Yuki addressed Tohru, "how about we get ready to leave soon? There's no rush. The restaurant will hold our reservations all night if I ask them, but I for one can't wait to spend a nice romantic evening with my wife."

"Okay. I'll be ready in a few minutes." Yuki gave her a serene, loving smile, reaching out to graze her cheek with his fingers before going inside with Shigure. Tohru gazed out over the garden again. The light of the setting sun cast shimmering golden rays across the yard. A vivid, jewel-like hummingbird flitted among the flowers, disappearing in a blur almost as soon as she laid eyes on it. Taking a long, deep breath of contentment, Tohru settled back in the chair, pushing her toes against the wood of the porch. The steady rocking rhythm kept time, and she began humming idly.

"Hmm-mmm-mmm-mmm….hmmmm….."

The words of the song her mother always used to sing to her were still fresh in her mind, even after all these years. She would pass them down to this new daughter, too. The melody followed the lilting waltz tempo easily, and before she realized it, Tohru was quietly singing.

"…..our tears will dissolve into thin air, as we drink up this good, lovin' life….."

Author's Notes:

Grrrrr…computer crashed again. Twice in as many weeks. I was barely able to recover this file. Anyway, all's well that ends well. I hope you'll read the sequel. It will be under my profile name "Mikazuki Yuriko" on titled "A Tiny Prayer." I hope to get the first chapter out soon. See you all again later!

Yuriko