Well, I'm back sooner than I thought I'd be. Now, don't get too carried away, because I'm not sure when I'll be updating next. All I know, is that I had way too many ideas to let them just lie around, you know? Oh, and to answer someone's query, I think the reason that most stories seem to have Sesshoumaru getting Sango pregnant after just one night together (although I'm sure the writer intends for it to be the result of excessive love-making and not just the one time. 'Cause let's face it, sex is like Pringle's-Once you pop, you just can't stop. Such would be true even for the feudal era, no?) is because everyone knows Sesshoumaru is...well...a super demon, lol. It should only take one time for him to get the job done.
Anyway, I digress, here it is...the first chapter to the Sequel to After.
After the End
Chapter One: The Wedding
Kagome rushed frantically about, trying to make sure everything was in place and checking that nothing had been overlooked. "Floors are swept," she looked down at the floor, noticing it's cleanliness, "Check." Moving across the room and toward the giant pot hanging over the fire, "Dinner's cooking," she saw that the contents in the pot were boiling, and the deer meat in the pan was sizzling, "Check."
She walked outside, crossing the village. She smiled at Inu Yasha once before grabbing him by the arm and leading him into the spring, "Inu Yasha's bath-"
"What the hell-" He was caught off guard by her sudden appearance and the sudden strength she used to tug him into the water.
"Sit boy!" She commanded as he went splashing into the water, "Check," she declared as she headed back toward the village, leaving a very perturbed Inu Yasha soaking in the spring.
"Shippou?" Kagome called for the little fox demon.
He came barreling toward her at top speed, then stopped short and, standing at attention, saluted her, "Shippou reporting for duty, ma'am!" He squeaked before being hit from behind by Rin, followed by Kirara. They ended up in a pile at Kagome's feet.
Kagome laughed softly, "Shippou, would you and your friends mind making sure that Miroku has blessed Kohaku's grave and readied it for the ceremony?" She asked as they all got to their feet.
"Yes, ma'am!" he and Rin saluted before running up the hill, Kirara in tow.
Kagome let out a content sigh as she looked around the decorated village. Leading up the hill from Sango's once upon a time hut, was a mixing trail of red and white Rose petals and fallen leaves of orange, yellow, and sienna. Atop the hill, slightly beyond Kohaku's grave was a stone table with a goblet in the center that sat atop a long, rectangular, red satin cloth. Directly in front of the cloth and goblet, was very old, very significant dagger.
Kagome had studied it earlier. She had run her fingers across the symbol embroidered hilt. She had learned earlier that it had been present at the wedding ceremony for the wedding between Sesshoumaru's mother and he and Inu Yasha's father. Kagome ran her finger over the strange edges of the blade, careful not to cut herself. It may have been well over a hundred years old, but it was still visibly sharp. She had wondered what it's use would be for the ceremony.
Shaking her head, Kagome decided to go check on Sango. She headed up toward the hut that had once been her friend's home. She called out as she stepped through the door, "Sango?"
"Kagome?" Sango came out of the shadow that the afternoon sun cast so brilliantly into the room. "How do I look? Is it too much?"
Kagome's eyes lit up and her jaw dropped as soon Sango stepped into her vision, "Oh, Sango. You look incredible! Wow!" Kagome went to her friend and pulled her into a hug. She was careful not to push herself against the small, but growing bulge of Sango's two-and-half month pregnant stomach. "I can't believe you're really getting married."
"I know. I can't believe it either," Sango put her hand on her stomach, "And I'm going to be a mother too."
"Have you decided on a name?" Kagome questioned.
"No, not yet, but I've still got about seven months, right?" Sango smiled nervously.
"Yup. If you want...I can bring a book of baby names from my era," Kagome suggested.
"They have those there?"
"Mm hmm. Do you want me to bring one with me next week?"
"Sure, that would be great. Maybe I could find something completely original," Sango smiled. "Is it almost time yet? Have you seen Sesshoumaru? Does he look nervous?"
Kagome let out a weak, "Heh heh, heh. No...I haven't seen him. I-I've been so busy with the preparations..."
"Kagome, you needn't be scared of him, you know. I can't explain how, but just know that he's not the same demon he once was, okay? I wouldn't be marrying him if I didn't feel certain that he wouldn't harm me or any of my friends," Sango placed a hand on Kagome's shoulder, "Trust me."
"I do trust you, Sango. It's just that, well, I can't help but remember all the terrible fights and words that have passed between him and Inu Yasha," Kagome gave a weak smile. "I'm trying, but it's hard."
"I understand," Sango smiled, "I'm sure, that like me, you imagined me marrying Miroku, didn't you?"
Kagome shrugged as she nodded meekly, "Yes, I can't lie about that one, I guess. But then he went off and married Haruka."
"I know. He never even talked about her while we searched for the jewels. You'd think he'd have blurted it out once or twice that there was a woman waiting for him back home," Sango got that familiar irritated look. It always seemed to surface whenever they talked about Miroku.
Kagome curled her lip up in an expression of distaste, "Yah, especially when he was so willing to tell everyone that he needed a mother for his children."
The two looked at each other for a moment with identical annoyance before giving way to hysteria. Sango shook her head, "I guess that's a lecherous monk for you."
"Well, that's Miroku for you, at least," Kagome sighed.
"Gosh, now that I think back on it, I can't believe I ever thought of him that way." Sango reflected, "I mean, he's nothing like Sesshoumaru."
"No, I suppose not." Kagome picked up a brush from a nearby table. "Can I do your hair?" Sango nodded her reply. Kagome began to run the brush through Sango's hair molding it to her will, "You really are in love with him, aren't you?"
"Mm hmm. I can't imagine life without him now. I'm not even sure how I managed before."
"I guess that's what this ceremony is all about then, huh?" Kagome smiled, teary eyed.
Sango heard the wavering of her best friend's voice. She turned around and hugged her tightly, "Yes. I suppose it is."
Sesshoumaru let out a contemplative breath as he let Jakken tie the belt of his Kimono tightly about his waste. Then watched as his servant tethered his Tenseiga and Tokijin to his waist using the leather strap of the necklace Rin had made for him months ago; the dragon's claw hung down between the hilts of two swords.
"Is that suitable, milord," Jakken asked. It was hard for him to hide his delight at being the one chosen to suit him up. Usually Lord Sesshoumaru did this himself, despite only having one arm, but it was custom to have someone else dress you for important ceremonies such as this.
Sesshoumaru was about to nod his head when the belt loosened and fell to his feet. For the third time in thirty minutes, Sesshoumaru found himself wanting to toss his so-called helper out the window. To hell with tradition, "Jakken, I'll do it-"
He was cut off by someone knocking on the door of the old weaponry hut. Jakken rushed over toward the window to see who it was as Sesshoumaru bent over to pick up his Tokijin. Once Jakken caught sight of who was on the other side, he immediately hopped down and inadvertently stood in front of the door, "Milord, it's your brother, Inu-"
Inu Yasha pushed the door open, sending Jakken flying against the opposite wall as he did so. He eyed his brother who looked ready to unsheathe his sword, "Don't bother, I ain't here for a fight, Sesshoumaru. Although I know you're probably itchin' for one."
"Humph," Sesshoumaru exhaled as he placed his sword back onto the floor, much to Inu Yasha's immense surprise. "What do you want then, Inu Yasha?" His voice was the same low, cool as it always was, yet something was different. His demeanor was somehow changed.
"I'm here to tell you that you're s'posed to be on top of the hill right before night fall," Inu Yasha let out a sight, "and since it's getting close, that means pretty soon." Inu Yasha furrowed his brow as he studied Sesshoumaru for a bit, watching as he picked up the belt and the Tenseiga that had been laying in a heap around his feet. Inu Yasha glanced behind him and saw that Jakken was knocked out. He realized at that moment that he just disabled the help. Steadily, Inu Yasha approached his brother and held out his hands, "Give 'em here. Someone has to do it for you."
Sesshoumaru glared at him, "I'd rather do it myself than take help from you, little brother. I don't want your help."
Inu Yasha would have liked to punch him in the jaw, but Kagome said he'd better be good, or she'd pin him to the same tree she'd found him. She was mean enough to try it, too. Glaring back, he snatched the belt and the sword from his brother, "Stop being an ass, and don't go gettin' the wrong idear or nothin'," Inu Yasha said before pulling the belt around his brother's waist, "I'm only helping 'cause Sango's my friend, and I don't want to screw up her wedding day by getting in a fight with you."
Inu Yasha finished tying everything together. Sesshoumaru studied it-his brother had done a fine job. Still, he couldn't resist, "Not bad, Inu Yasha. Almost makes me think I should have hired you as a maid instead of feuding with you all these years."
Inu Yasha let out growl before shrugging nonchalantly then smirking with sarcasm, "You make such a cute puppy all dressed up like that, Sesshoumaru." Their narrowed gazes met, and thankfully, were interrupted by another knock on the door.
Miroku walked in, a bit of nervous tension pulling at the corners of his smile, "It's almost time. If you're ready, all of us need to be getting to the hilltop."
Inu Yasha spotted Sesshoumaru's pelt across the room, "We'll meet you up there in a minute."
"Alright," Miroku nodded, "but please hurry. You're taking more time than the bride and her maid. It makes the rest of the male species look bad."
"Miroku," Inu Yasha taunted, as he and his brother glared holes into the monk.
"Hey, don't get mad-it was just a little pre-marriage joke, that's all. Heh heh," Miroku didn't waste anymore time before practically fleeing out the door and up the hill.
Inu Yasha retrieved the pelt, and pretty much let Sesshoumaru put it into place. He looked his brother over one more time, making sure everything was correct before heading toward the door. Before exiting, he turned toward Sesshoumaru, slowly meeting his gaze, he said what he had been meaning to say all day, "Congratulations, and you better treat her good."
Sesshoumaru smirked in reply, "I've no intention of causing her grief, if that's what you mean."
Inu Yasha shook his head, "I don't know why, but for some reason, I actually believe you." Without another word, he was out the door and on his way up the hill, leaving Sesshoumaru with a grin of some sort of satisfaction that not even he could explain.
Thirty Minutes Later
Sesshoumaru watched from his standing position atop the hill as Sango approached. Her appearance was nothing less than striking. Her hair fell about her shoulders in thick curls, their brilliance visible behind the thin lace that adorned her crown (A/N: crown as in head) in a long veil. It caped the back of her head, her sleeveless shoulders, and her back all the way down to her waist. It swished with the sway of her hips along with the bottom of the dress.
Sewn in the finest of white silk, the dress gave off a luminous glow in the moonlight. No one made a sound as she climbed the slope, the leaves and rose petals flowing with the long train. Miroku admired her from his place behind the stone table, feeling the devastation of his loss, but quickly casting it aside. He had made his decision long ago, and Sango had done well without him. It would have never worked anyway. For, he clearly wasn't her type...at least, not anymore.
Finally reaching Sesshoumaru's side, Sango could already feel the gathering tears in her eyes. Taking a breath, she accepted his outstretched hand, and allowed him to guide her to her position. Looking up at him, she gave him a smile that could only be described as brilliant. Sesshoumaru glanced down at the barely visible bulge of her pregnant stomach, and a proud smile took residence on his face. They shared that moment before turning to face Miroku, their priest for the event.
Taking the dagger and raising it to the sky, Miroku began to invoke the blessings of the Gods into the blade. The sky darkened slightly as streams of lavender and white appeared from above and began to encircle Sango and Sesshoumaru, "I ask thee to appraise and bless this union," Miroku prayed of the colorful spirits. The lavender and white stripes of life flowed from about Sango and Sesshoumaru to begin swirling around the dagger before entering the embroidered handle. The color reflected in the blade, casting a dense glow onto the table as Miroku placed it before the couple.
Miroku gestured toward the blade as he spoke, "Sesshoumaru, take this blade and with it, cut Sango's palm from thumb to pinky," he then turned to Sango, "You will do the same to him when he is finished." From her position in the front of the crowd, Kagome's eyes widened at the thought, but seeing the calmness and love in the eyes of the couple, her soul was put at ease. She grasped Inu Yasha's hand as she watched the proceedings. Meanwhile, Rin consoled a weeping Jakken, "It's okay, Jakken. Don't cry. We're going to be a family now," she whispered into his ear.
Sesshoumaru picked up the glowing dagger as Sango obligingly lifted her palm between their bodies. He gave her a gentle smile, before lightly cutting the unscarred tissue of her hand. Her blood flowed freely as she took the dagger with her other, unscathed hand. Returning his gentleness, Sango did the same to Sesshoumaru's only hand.
Miroku removed the goblet from the scarlet cloth before picking it up and draping it over his shoulder. He then moved around the table, and took both of their hands and pressed them together, allowing their blood, the very essence of their lives, to join as one. Miroku then took the cloth from his shoulder and wrapped it around Sesshoumaru and Sango's joined hands. "Together as one, ye both shall remain, past death and beyond the end of time."
The Monk tried to hide his smile at seeing the gleam in not only Sango's eyes, but also Sesshoumaru's. As he observed the Demon Lord, he couldn't help but notice the love that reflected in his eyes as he gazed at Sango. Smiling softly for a moment at the sight, Miroku turned and took the goblet from the table. It's contents, the finest red wine, moved languidly as he picked it up. Careful not to spill it, Miroku lifted it above his head with his left hand, and his staff with his right hand, "Now drink this and utter the promises of commitment until death."
Miroku positioned it below their bleeding hands, allowing a few drops of their mixing blood to fall into the liquid. He then held the goblet before Sesshoumaru's mouth as the groom uttered, "Til death." He then took a drink and Miroku moved it before Sango's lips, and she spoke the oath, "Til death." She smiled before sipping the liquid, the taste of their joined blood was anything but indistinct to either of them. For, they both tasted of their essence--their united lives.
"Having sworn, by drinking from this goblet, to love, honor, and obey," Miroku looked from Sango to Sesshoumaru, then shrugged sheepishly when he found himself being glared at by the both of them. He knew Sesshoumaru didn't obey anyone and that Sango was a free spirit, and that thought make him mentally chuckle. He pushed the irony aside as he muttered under his breath, "It's just part of the whole marriage thing...you know..." Seeing the two love birds focus once again on each other, he continued, "I know pronounce thee, husband and wife. You may now kiss the-" Neither Sango nor Sesshoumaru waited for his permission, "Bride," Miroku finished with a sigh.
Recognizing this as the end of the formal ceremony, Rin dashed forward and threw an arm around a leg of each of the newlyweds. Sango's eyes smiled at Sesshoumaru before she picked up the small girl and hugged her close the replaced her as Jakken came forward next, and bowed, "Congratulations to you both," he sniffled. Rin, seeing his tears gave him her biggest hug before dashing down the hill and dragging him along with her.
Inu Yasha, Kagome, Shippou, and Kirara were next in line. Kagome embraced Sango like a sister and whispered into her ear, "Make sure you train him well," she joked. Sango let out a giggle and replied, "I don't know...I think I like 'im wild." This made Kagome blush, for she knew exactly what Sango was insinuating, and it was something that Kagome had never done.
Inu Yasha also gave Sango a hug and whispered, "Just don't let 'im push ya around or nothin'." Sango smiled softly, "Inu Yasha, don't worry. Sesshoumaru will make an excellent husband and father." Sensing her conviction, Inu Yasha nodded and ended the embrace, "Welcome to the family," he smiled before turning to his brother, "Well, I have to admit...I never thought I'd see the day," he paused and smirked, "but I'm happy for you." He turned to leave, but something stopped him. Inu Yasha let out an impatient breath and faced his brother, "Sesshoumaru," Inu Yasha said to get his attention, but once he had it, he averted his eyes, "You know I--I don't hate you or nothin'." He admitted it as he finally met Sesshoumaru's surprised gaze, "I never have."
All the people standing within ear shot watched with stunned expressions as Inu Yasha retreated down the hill toward the reception. No one, however, was more stunned or surprised than Sesshoumaru. He would have never assumed that Inu Yasha could feel anything but hatred toward him. He had felt nothing but animosity toward Inu Yasha since the day he was born. It was really not Inu Yasha's fault, and he knew this, but Sesshoumaru did not want to be angry at his father for laying with a human so soon after his mother's death. Instead, he took it out on the son of the human woman who meant to replace his mother.
It seemed childish now that he thought back on it, but he didn't have time to think on it now. It was his wedding day, and Sesshoumaru meant to enjoy it. He didn't know how long this would last, but he'd be true to his word and cherish each moment until death. Looking down upon his beaming wife, Sesshoumaru let his own smile show. Sango felt her heart skip a beat, and she knew it would always do so when he smiled like that. How she loved him, and he returned that love. He had said it himself and he had meant it.
Happy thoughts of their lives together filled their minds as they walked hand in hand toward the outside reception. The glow of the torches and the sound of music brought the village to life for the first time in many years. The evening was the happiest evening anyone had experienced since before the shikkon jewel was scattered to the wind by Kagome's overzealous arrow.
The atmosphere in the village was so full of love and celebration, that one would have thought anything within a hundred feet of it would be affected by it. However, such was not the case, as two pairs of watchful eyes observed from the forest just outside the celebration. "How long should we wait?" a quiet voice asked it's partner.
"Weren't you paying attention to the elders? We have to wait until she is on her last month of pregnancy when the blood is flowing her through her at it's strongest," he replied.
"I was paying attention, but what if they find out what we have planned?"
"They can't find out this time. We have to do everything right or it might end up as badly as it did the first time."
The younger creature nodded, "I understand. Everything has to be done exactly right."
"Yes, and it will be done. Nothing can be allowed to interfere."
"What about the husband?"
"I guess we'll just have to distract him. Don't worry, though, the elders have something in mind for him. Come, let's go before we are spotted." With that, the two creatures made off unseen and unheard.
Well, that's it for chapter one. Chapter two will be up in no time at all--well, maybe. You guys ought to know how I am by now. Anyway, as always, drop those reviews on your way out.