Disclaimer: Nope, they don't belong to me.

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Chapter 26: Afterwards

The whole Palace was filled with rejoicing over the return of their own dear Princess Kikyo. The festivities seemed like they would go on forever, but, in truth, they weren't complete. It was soon remembered that while they had their Princess back, their Queen and those closest to her were still in grave danger. It was a solemn party that led the Princess to see the woman she now knew to be her mother. To Kagome, looking down at the Queen's pallid face as she lay upon her bed, it seemed she had both gained and lost a mother all at once. It was worse for her to see the woman who had raised her, Kaede, lying in the same condition. Her newfound happiness seemed to melt away at the sight.

The soldiers guarding them related to Kagome how they had fallen protecting her, and how all the priestesses had done their best to heal them, and had failed. Kagome felt despair touching her heart when she heard the tale, but Inuyasha, in his usual argumentative and bullying manner, refused to let her give up, insisting that she could heal them herself. He had a confidence in her purifying powers that she didn't share, but it seemed his faith was well founded—with her power-filled touch, they regained their color, and soon awoke. Kagome healed the Queen, Kaede, and Sango. She worried over how to heal Shippo, who might be purified by her powers as much as the poison, but a light brush of her fingers across his face proved to clear the poison enough that his body was able to do the rest of the healing, and he too soon returned to consciousness.

Kagome spent the next several hours attending to those who had been injured during the battle, especially those who had received poisonous wounds. When she was done, the Palace celebrated in earnest.

Two weeks later a delegation arrived from the West, including Inuyasha's father, Inutaisho, and his brother Sesshoumaru. The entire countryside was filled with the story of the Priestess Kagome, who had really been Princess Kikyo, and how she and the Western Prince Inuyasha had met and fallen in love before they found out that they'd been betroved since her birth. Inutaisho smiled at the story, put aside the carefully composed words he'd prepared to break off his son's engagement, and instead prepared to attend a wedding. The delegation found the Eastern Palace bustling with preparations. Inuyasha they found being lauded as hero wherever he went, much to his continued dismay (and Miroku's amusement), and Kagome busily correcting anyone who attempted to call her Kikyo.

The wedding was performed a month later. Those who attended, which was pretty much everyone, would recall years later how resplendent the decorations were, how delicious the food, how beautiful the clothing of the attendees, and how the happy couple had been so busy looking at each other that they hadn't noticed any of it.

Many citizens from the West also came to attend, and the occasion was generally remembered as the first time that humans and demons peacefully mingled together to any great degree. It was even remarked how the Prince's brother Sesshoumaru, who had been previously been noted for his harsh views against humans, seemed to tolerate them better than anyone had expected. Rumor had it this was due in large part to a growing attachment to the young human girl who had volunteered to serve him during his stay in the Eastern Palace. The child had been orphaned during the battle, and seemed to have adopted Sesshoumaru as something of a father-figure. There was little surprise, then, that when the Western delegation finally left for home, little Rin went with them.

Humans and demons worked together to destroy the remnants of Naraku's army. Any jewel shard they found was brought to Princess Kagome for purification and safe keeping. The land became safe again, as it had not been safe since Naraku's curse. No one, however, could find Naraku himself. Kagome and Inuyasha finally resolved that they would simply have to wait and watch, that they might be prepared for the next time the evil being made his appearance. And so, they lived happily, and sometimes loudly – the palace staff, and later the couple's children, learned to take cover when the pair started raising their voices at each other – ever after.

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Awe, short little chapter to wrap everything up. Thanks so much to everyone who came and read my little story. :) Your reviews have been awesome, they're definitely what kept me going on this. Thanks again!

-Silvanon