A/N: There, shocked you, did I?
And because it would really be evil to end it at that, I decided to give you an epilogue (or rather, the second part of the original chapter 10). But that's all you get. Divine Concubine was always meant to end like that.
Kagome slowly limped down the path Sesshomaru had said would lead her to her friends. Her right ankle ached; her left heel ached; the soles of her bare feet were positively burning. She was tired and cranky. She wanted her mother. And a hot bath. Or at least a wheel chair so that she didn't have to walk anymore.
What she got was Miroku.
She was hobbling along the way, carefully watching the ground for sharp stones or brambles, when suddenly a very familiar voice exclaimed loudly, 'Kagome-sama!'
Kagome stopped and looked up. There, in the middle of the forest path stood Miroku, gaping at her. She had never before been so happy to see him.
'Miroku-sama! Oh, I'm so glad to see you!'
She took a step forward, but her knees too were so happy to see Miroku that they gave way and she collapsed. Miroku was at her side in seconds, his face worried and surprised.
'Kagome-sama, are you all right? Are you hurt?'
Kagome grinned broadly. 'I sprained my ankle and stepped onto a thorn some time ago. Oh, and my feet hurt. But that's okay.'
Miroku eyed her closely, taking in the tussled hair, the untidy, dirty kimono, and the rosy wisp around her left foot. He noticed the reddish mark on her neck and the darkish bruises on her hips that the kimono did nothing to conceal. But she was smiling, and her eyes, though weary, were bright.
'Kagome-sama.' He spoke her name on a relieved sigh. Inu Yasha would not kill him. Or only a little. At her questioning glance, he smiled. 'I'm glad you are all right. We were so worried about you!'
She became serious. 'Sango-chan?'
'She's all right. I … I found her last night and we managed to get out.'
Kagome nodded. 'Yes, I heard a commotion and thought Sango-chan managed to get away. I half-expected Inu Yasha to barge in, but …'
Miroku grimaced. 'He couldn't. And I'm so sorry we didn't get you out last night as well. But we were discovered, and I thought it better to retreat for the time being and find another way to free you.'
She smiled. 'That's okay, Miroku-sama.' Her smile turned to a frown. 'But why couldn't Inu Yasha come?'
'There was a barrier around the temple the demons couldn't go through. I managed, perhaps because I'm human, perhaps because I'm a monk. Sango went through as well without problems. But, as I said, no demon could go through.'
Kagome's frown had deepened. 'No demon could go through,' she repeated, softly, more to herself. 'I wonder …'
'Oh, nothing. Just … never mind. Let's go back then.'
'Of course. Here, let me help you up.'
Miroku solicitously helped Kagome to stand up, but then had to grab her because she wobbled on her feet. Kagome grimaced.
'Miroku-sama, I'm very much afraid you have to carry me. My feet are killing me. I really can't walk another step.'
The monk glanced down at her feet. 'You're walking barefoot?'
'Yes, well, we weren't given shoes, you know. And I forgot to ask for sandals or something before we left.'
'We?' He gave her a searching glance. 'Who "we"? Kagome-sama, how did you manage to get out of the temple?'
The girl blushed. 'Uh … Can I tell you later?'
'Later includes Inu Yasha,' Miroku pointed out.
Kagome sighed deeply. 'I know. And it won't be pretty. But … I'd rather only tell once, you know.'
He looked worriedly at her. 'Was it … bad?'
'Bad?' Kagome blinked, clearly surprised. 'Oh, no. No, it wasn't. Shujin, he … well, he tried, but he didn't do anything. Now, Miroku-sama, can we go?'
'Yes, of course. Here,' he handed her his staff. 'You carry this and I carry you.'
Kagome took the staff. It tingled a little in her hands. Then she grinned at the monk. 'No groping, or I'll bash you!'
Miroku swept her into his arms and smiled lopsidedly. 'Don't worry, Kagome-sama. I will behave.'
She cast him a shrewd glance. 'Sango-chan beat some sense into you, then?' She laughed delightedly as Miroku blushed. 'Oh, she did!'
He nodded. A soft smile hovered on his lips. 'Yes, she did.'
Kagome looked up into his face and smiled as well. Then she laughed again. 'Ha! Lovely! Oh, would Shujin be mad if he ever knew!' And then she couldn't stop laughing because, really, it was too ironic.
Miroku looked a little bemused at her outburst of mirth, but he didn't question her. He simply grabbed her tighter and started walking.
Kagome leaned her head against Miroku's shoulder and, almost without her noticing, her eyes slid shut. The sunlight now and then pierced the comforting blackness behind her lids, and Miroku's regular steps lulled her into a slight doze.
Some time later, she woke to his hands tighten around her.
'Hmm?' She blinked, a little sleepy.
'Better wake up. We're almost there, and—'
The high-pitched scream interrupted him, and Kagome raised her head in time to see the small, orange furball dash forward, and then Shippo was clinging to her, sobbing and laughing, almost choking her.
'Kagome, Kagome, are you all right? I was so scared and we couldn't get through and Miroku said we'd better wait but we were so worried and Inu Yasha and Kouga were fighting all the time and—'
Miroku staggered under the onslaught and almost dropped Kagome. 'Shippo,' he groaned, himself interrupting the kitsune's chattering.
Kagome laughed and hugged Shippo. 'It's all right, Shippo, I'm fine, I'm fine.'
And then Sango was at their side, her eyes curiously bright. 'Kagome-chan, oh, I'm so glad to see you! What did the god do to you? How did you manage to escape?'
'Later, Sango,' pleaded Miroku. 'Let me get her beyond the barrier, now, because with Shippo on top, it's getting heavy.'
Sango nodded, but Kagome, light-headed with delight, rapped Miroku's head with his staff. 'Are you saying I'm heavy, Miroku-sama?'
The monk grinned down at her. 'Nope, Shippo is heavy.'
Kagome laughed. Shippo looked up. 'Miroku, why are you carrying Kagome?'
'My feet hurt, Shippo-chan, that's why,' answered Kagome.
'Hurt?' Both Shippo and Sango looked worried.
'From walking without shoes.' Kagome nodded.
'Walking without shoes?' Sango peered at Kagome's naked feet.
'Shippo, would you please get down?' groaned Miroku. 'What are you doing here, anyway?'
The small fox looked up. 'What? You're bringing Kagome!'
'But this is clearly beyond the barrier.'
Shippo shook his head. 'No, there wasn't a barrier.'
'Yesterday, there was a barrier,' insisted Miroku.
'Yes,' agreed Sango slowly, 'there was, about there, at that dead tree.' She pointed. 'I wonder why it is gone.'
'Probably because Shujin is dead,' said Kagome.
'Dead?!' Sango exclaimed. Miroku and Shippo looked stunned as well. 'Why? When? How? Did you do it?'
Kagome shook her head. 'No, of course not, I—´
'But how did he die, then?'
Kagome turned her head. There, a little further down the path, stood Inu Yasha and – Kagome blinked – Kouga. Both had their arms crossed over their chests and scowled.
'Why is that man carrying Kagome?' demanded Koga.
'Who died?' repeated Inu Yasha.
Kagome blinked and looked up at Miroku. 'You could have warned me there are two of them.'
Miroku's lips twitched.
'What's the kid doing beyond the barrier?' asked Koga.
'The barrier's gone,' said Shippo. 'Kagome said because the god died.'
The two demons looked at each other and stepped forward. Nothing stopped them. After a moment's hesitation, they both dashed forward. Miroku hurried to put Kagome down, who winced the moment her feet touched the ground. And then the demons were at her side and bombarding them all with questions.
Kagome clung to Miroku and refused to let go. After a couple of minutes of shouting, alternately at her and at each other, Inu Yasha and Koga finally shut up, rather out of breath.
Sango huffed. 'Well, now that we have a little quiet, I'd suggest we go and find some spot were we can all sit down and talk. And then we need to go back to the place we made camp yesterday, because Kagome-chan and I really need to change clothes.'
'Oh, I don't know, I like the style.' Miroku grinned at her. 'No need to change it on my account.'
'Shut up,' Sango grumbled, but she said it fondly.
'A little further down the path there's a meadow,' said Koga helpfully.
'Wonderful,' agreed Miroku. 'Show us the way, please. Kagome-sama, can you walk?'
Kagome tried and winced. 'I'd much rather not.'
Koga, who had turned to lead the small group, swivelled back. He opened his mouth, but Inu Yasha beat him to it.
'Kagome? What's wrong? Why can't you walk?'
Kagome smiled and patiently explained, 'I've been traipsing through this forest without wearing shoes. You may be used to it, but I'm not. My feet hurt. That's why Miroku-sama was carrying me.' She looked up. 'Do you think you can manage a little further?'
Miroku smiled. 'But of course, Kagome-sama. Without a kitsune clinging to you, you barely weigh anything at all!'
'No need to strain yourself, monk,' Koga said nonchalantly and stepped closer. 'I can carry her easily.'
Inu Yasha kicked him out of the way. 'You go and show us this meadow, whimpy wolf,' he growled. 'C'mere, Kagome.'
Miroku tightened his hold around Kagome's waist and, grinning mischievously, he said, 'Oh, it's no strain at all, thank you, rather a pleasure.'
'Sango, you haven't hit him hard enough,' observed Shippo.
'Allow me, Sango-chan.' Kagome rapped Miroku's head again with his staff. 'Stop provoking, Miroku-sama.'
'But they make it so easy, Kagome-sama.'
'Hmph. Here, Sango-chan, you take care of this idiot.' Kagome handed the staff to Sango, then turned and smiled. 'Koga, please show us the way. Inu Yasha, please, stop quarrelling.'
Inu Yasha growled and picked her up. 'I'm not quarrelling.'
'Oi, Kagome, why do you let dog-breath carry you!' Koga protested.
'Shut up, whiney, and move!' Inu Yasha yelled. He looked ready to explode, but his hands carrying Kagome were gentle.
Kagome sighed and once more leaned her head against a strong shoulder. She was only reunited with her friends for, how long? Five minutes? And she was already tired. She wanted her bed. Her own, soft, comfortable bed. And then some peace and quiet.
But first, she had some explaining to do.
'Oh, lucky,' she sighed.
She looked up into Inu Yasha's worried eyes. 'You okay?'
Kagome smiled back. 'Yes. Tired and lame and rather not in the mood to talk, but okay.'
He nodded and held her closer. A pang of regret shot through her. He could be so nice and gentle. And he cared. If only … But no. Things were the way they were and not different, and she had to make the best of it. And she had made her decision. But she felt sorry for the hurt this would cause him, her dear friend.
Shortly afterwards, they arrived at the meadow Koga had mentioned and sat down in a sunny spot. Kagome gently patted her sore feet and suppressed a groan. When she looked up, everybody was watching her. She groaned again, audibly this time.
'So, Kagome-sama,' began Miroku. 'Will you please tell me, us, now how you managed to get away?'
'Yes, Kagome-chan.' Sango leaned forward. 'How did you escape the god?'
Kagome closed her eyes for a moment. Here we go …
'Shujin wasn't a god, Sango-chan,' she said.
'What? But …'
'What do you mean, not a god?' Inu Yasha, eyes narrowed.
'But you felt something of a divine entity, didn't you? Besides, Kurokawa-sama said it was a god, Kagome-sama, and … well, he should know, living in the area, don't you think?' Miroku, reasonable.
Kagome shook her head. 'There was a god, some fifty years ago, all right. But there isn't, wasn't one this time. It was a human, a priest. He … styled himself as a god, using some … I think relics, of the original god.'
'What?' Sango gasped. 'You mean, all this concubine stuff was …?'
Kagome grimaced and nodded. 'Like Miroku-sama, only worse.'
'Eh, what's with this talking about gods?' asked Koga.
Inu Yasha groaned. 'Shut it, idiot.'
'Inu Yasha, don't be rude,' begged Kagome.
'Rude?! I explained it to him at least five times last night! And that was before Miroku got back! And he explained some more. If Koga still doesn't get it, well, he's an idiot.'
'Who're you calling idiot, mutt?'
The three humans sighed as the demons started yelling at each other again. After some time, Kagome turned to Sango.
'Well, as long as these two are busy, why don't you tell me what happened to you?'
'After we got separated?' Sango shrugged. 'Nothing much. I was bathed, they forced me to wear this ridiculous excuse for a kimono, and then they locked me into a room. Oh, and all the time babbling what a wonderful person this god … Shujin was.'
'Yup, same here.'
Sango nodded. 'Well, then, after a while, Miroku showed up. We … um … had a slight discussion about what to do and then we set out to find you. Unfortunately, this Shujin guy must have decided to come and visit me, because they soon found my room empty. We tried to hurry to find you, but … One of the girls saw us. I wanted to keep searching, but Miroku dragged me out.' She leaned abruptly forwards and grabbed Kagome's hands. 'Please, Kagome-chan, believe me, I wouldn't have left! I wouldn't have left you alone with this monster if I'd had a choice!'
Kagome smiled and nodded. 'It's okay, Sango-chan. I know. I was glad you managed to get out. I hoped you'd find the rest and then come to get me out.'
'That was the plan. But, as Miroku probably has told you, none of our demonic friends could get through the barrier.'
'Yes, he said so.'
'So, we – or rather, he – decided to wait till morning and come up with another plan to try and get you out.'
'I thought it best not to return last night,' continued Miroku. 'I had already managed to get one girl away. They would have been on their guard.'
Kagome nodded again. 'Don't worry, Miroku-sama, Sango-chan. I don't blame you.'
'But, what happened to you?'
Kagome hesitated and glanced at the two demons who were now quarrelling actively, meaning, they were fighting.
'They did that half the night, Kagome,' said Shippo.
Kagome hugged him. 'Poor Shippo-chan, and you had to stay with them all the time.'
Shippo shrugged, but snuggled closer to Kagome. 'They ignored me most of the time.'
'Hm.' Kagome eyed the fighting demons. 'How long, do you think, will it take them to calm down?'
'Too long,' sighed Sango.
'Hm. Well. Then …' Kagome sighed. 'Inu Yasha! Sit!'
A loud thump shook the ground as the hanyou fell. Koga, in full attack speed, found his target gone, lost balance, and fell down as well.
'Dammit, Kagome,' growled Inu Yasha unintelligibly, face mashed into the grass.
Koga recovered quickly, threw a triumphant glance at his fallen rival, and strutted over to Kagome. Kneeling down in front of her, he clasped her hands in his and stared into her eyes.
'Kagome, tell me what happened to you! The mutt said something about you being kidnapped? He didn't take good enough care of you. Look, you are hurt!'
Kagome tried to wiggle her hands free, didn't succeed, sighed, and gave in. 'Yes, I was kidnapped, but nothing, Koga, nothing could have prevented it. No, don't say it! Not even you! No, don't argue!'
'But, Kagome, surely I—'
Inu Yasha, free of the spell, bashed Koga over the head. 'Told you last night, you couldn't.'
'Inu Yasha,' rebuked Kagome. 'Please don't start again.'
Inu Yasha huffed and sat down.
Koga rubbed his head. 'You, dogbreath—'
'And you neither, Koga,' Kagome said sternly.
'But, Kagome, I—'
'No. Stop it. Rather tell me why you are here.'
'I smelled you, last night, you know. You and the other girl. But you were alone. I thought I'd come and check on you.' Koga looked at her seriously.
Kagome smiled politely. 'Well, thank you, that was very kind of you.'
Koga, not detecting the platitudes, puffed out his chest. 'Yeah, I'd take good care of you, Kagome. Better than he!'
Inu Yasha growled, but didn't say anything.
'Okay, now.' Miroku grinned. 'Now you know what happened to us last night. Inu Yasha and Koga have stopped arguing. Would you now, please, tell us what happened to you?'
'Yes, Kagome-chan, how did you get away?'
Kagome sighed and nodded. She looked up. Miroku smiled knowingly at her.
'No getting away now,' he said softly.
'What does he mean, Kagome?' Inu Yasha looked from her to Miroku.
'Simply that I'd rather not tell, because you won't like it one bit.'
That, of course, caught their full attention.
'Why? What is it?'
'Kagome-chan?' Sango sounded deeply worried. 'Did he …?'
Kagome smiled reassuringly. 'No, he didn't. He tried, though.'
'Who's he?' barked Inu Yasha.
'And what did he try?' growled Koga.
'Perhaps you start at the beginning,' suggested Miroku.
Kagome nodded and clasped her hands in her lap. 'Well. Um, you know that Sango-chan and I got separated. First, it was just like she told you, bath, this ridiculous kimono, and babbling on how wonderful Shujin is. They brought me to a room and locked me. Later, they brought food. And then, Shujin showed up. He … um … he was very … persuasive. I think he used some of his power to … you know.'
Sango and Miroku nodded, the three demons stared at her with wide eyes.
'Used his power for what?' asked Shippo.
'What do you mean, persuasive?'
Kagome fidgeted nervously. 'Well, you do know that this god collected girls? They were his concubines. He wanted Sango-chan and me as well.'
'Concubines?' Shippo frowned.
Miroku, lips twitching, put a hand on his shoulder. 'Shippo, remember the talk we had yesterday?'
Shippo frowned. 'Yes, but … You mean, the god wanted Sango and Kagome to bear him children?'
'Ahem.' Miroku flushed. 'Yes, well, I think this is the best way of putting it.'
'Oh.' Shippo looked at Kagome. 'He tried? Like Miroku does?'
Kagome cast an uneasy glance at a glowering Inu Yasha. 'Um … he tried a bit … more.'
'What are you talking about?' Koga asked, nonplussed.
'That the damned bastard tried to seduce Kagome,' growled Inu Yasha. He stared hard at the girl. 'Right?'
Koga's jaw dropped, then, in a heartbeat, his expression changed. 'I'll kill him!' he swore.
Inu Yasha gave a short, hard laugh. 'We're too late for that, eh?'
Kagome nodded again.
Koga punched a nice, deep hole into the ground and Inu Yasha sat, scowling, fingering Tessaiga's hilt.
'So, Shujin tried,' Miroku resumed the account. 'What stopped him?'
Kagome grinned. 'I threw dished at him.'
Five jaws dropped, then Miroku began laughing. Sango soon joined him.
'Yes, well, there was nothing else to throw. Then, I tried to gouge his eyes with the chopsticks,' Kagome improvised. After all, she had thought about it. And she thought it would be good if Koga and Inu Yasha, well, Koga mostly, saw she could defend herself.
Besides, it was nice to see her friends laugh, and it took away some of her tension. The horror or those moments faded further from her mind.
'Wow, Kagome, you sure can be scary,' said Shippo admiringly.
'I didn't feel scary at all, though,' she replied softly.
The laughing stopped and they looked at her.
'What happened next?' Sango asked.
Kagome sighed and hugged herself. 'He was … angry. Very angry. He obviously hadn't thought I'd fight him. Then …' She closed her eyes and took a deep breath.
She felt her body tense. This was going to be unpleasant.
'Well, he dragged me out of the room. Said, he had a demonic visitor, and it was either him or the demon.'
Her friends gasped.
'Demon?' Sango looked horrified. Miroku gripped his staff, eyes darting from Kagome to Inu Yasha to Koga.
Inu Yasha was tense, his eyes narrowed. 'Who?' he rasped.
Koga frowned. 'But … that can't be! We couldn't get through the barrier at all! Kagome are you sure, a demon?'
Kagome nodded. 'Yes. I … I didn't know about the barrier until you told me, but … I suppose Shujin opened it for him to come in. After all, he did kind of invite him to come.'
'Shujin invited a demon?' Miroku's eyes had widened.
'Who?' insisted Inu Yasha.
'Why would he do that?' wondered Sango.
'Um …' Kagome squirmed. 'Shujin crossed the … the borders to that demon's territory. So … he came to … er … settle the matter.'
'And he settled the matter all right.' Miroku sighed. 'Pity, really. I'd have loved to punch him.'
'I'd have torn him apart limp by limp,' growled Koga savagely.
They looked at Koga.
'Kagome, how did he die?' asked Shippo.
Kagome shrugged. 'I don't know. I was … still asleep.'
'Then how do you know he's dead?' Miroku tilted his head.
'I couldn't feel the divine aura any longer. Besides … I saw Risu this morning. She was absolutely terrified of … of the demon.'
'WHO?' yelled Inu Yasha.
They all turned to look at him.
The hanyou snarled. 'Dammit, who was the demon, Kagome?'
All heads swivelled back to her. Kagome looked down at her hands. It had been going to good! She had managed to avoid answering that question so far. Why was Inu Yasha so persistent?
'Um …' She felt her cheeks heat and grit her teeth in anger at herself.
'Oh.' At Sango's soft gasp, Kagome looked up. Sango was staring at her, eyes wide, hand clapped in front of her mouth. 'Kagome-chan …'
The expression in her eyes told Kagome that Sango had caught up. She blushed even hotter and hung her head.
'Yes,' Kagome answered softly.
'You … Again?'
'WHAT?' yelled Inu Yasha. 'WHO? Dammit, Sango, you know who? Tell me! One of you!'
Shippo suddenly grabbed Kagome's torn sleeve. 'Not … Naraku?'
Kagome shook her head and smiled shakily. She avoided looking up at Inu Yasha. 'No, not Naraku, Shippo-chan.'
'Kagome-sama?' Miroku sounded confused. 'Who was that demon? And what did he do to you?'
'Do I know him?' Inu Yasha suddenly inquired.
Kagome couldn't help a shaky grin. 'Oh, yes.'
Miroku gasped, then coughed violently. His face had suddenly gone very red.
'Miroku?' Sango leaned to him, worried. 'What's wrong?'
'Ka-Kagome-sama,' Miroku gasped. 'The … the same?'
Kagome flushed again.
'How do you know?' Sango eyed him.
Miroku laughed, or tried to. 'Allow me some intelligence. "Oh, yes".' He shook his head. 'Rather telling.' He grinned at Kagome, then coughed again.
'Kagome?' Inu Yasha's voice sounded dangerous.
Kagome sighed. Really, why had she been hesitating? She knew she would have to tell him sooner or later. Hesitating like this didn't make it any easier. Rather the opposite. She took another deep breath.
For a moment, there was silence. Then,
One syllable, short, hard, denying. Kagome peered at Inu Yasha from below her fringe. Inu Yasha looked … stunned. Not so much shocked, or hurt. He shook his head, but he clearly knew. Kagome waited for the explosion.
It didn't come.
Inu Yasha's hands tightened around Tessaiga's hilt. A muscle in his jaw twitched. He didn't say a word. He got up and walked away, silent, tense. Kagome watched him disappear into the forest.
'Well,' said Miroku when Inu Yasha was out of sight. 'That was … unexpected.'
Sango and Shippo nodded.
'What's the matter with him?' Koga suddenly asked, clearly surprised. 'That's not like him, to walk off like that.'
'Uh, Koga …' Miroku began.
'I think you did not quite understand …'
Koga shook his head. 'No. Who's Sesshomaru?'
'Inu Yasha's older brother.'
'He's got a brother?'
'Half-brother,' interjected Kagome. 'Sesshomaru is full demon.'
Koga looked more confused. 'What's this got to do with you?'
Kagome bit her lip, glanced at her friends, then said, 'Koga, have you heard about the dragons that swarmed the country a little time ago?'
Koga nodded. 'Yeah, but –'
'Those dragons only preyed on human female virgins.'
Koga's haw dropped.
'And … I didn't want to be eaten. So, I had to stop being a virgin.'
Koga's eyes narrowed. 'Inu Yasha …'
Koga gaped at her.
Kagome looked straight back at him. Somehow, this was a lot easier without Inu Yasha around.
'Sesshomaru took my virginity,' she said, not faltering, although she was blushing madly. 'With my agreement, just so you don't get any ideas into your head. And, last night, when Shujin had locked me into a room with his demon visitor …' She left it at that and shrugged.
Koga blinked, slowly. 'What?' His voice was oddly faint. 'Kagome, why … You are … Why … I would have helped you!'
Kagome nodded. 'Yes, I know. And I … would have asked you to … But Sesshomaru was there, and he offered and … well.'
Koga scratched his head. 'Didn't you tell him you're my woman?'
Kagome sniffed. 'I'm not!'
Koga scratched his ear. Then, he tipped his head into the direction where Inu Yasha had vanished. 'So, that's why he …?'
Kagome nodded. 'Although I … I don't know. I didn't expect him to react this way. Last time, he …'
'He got very angry,' said Shippo sombrely.
Koga stared at Shippo and nodded absently. He growled. He scratched his head again. Then, he got up, standing as proud and tall as ever. Even the cocky grin was back.
'Well, then, I'd better go and pick a fight with him, eh?'
And with a last, broad grin, Koga sped after Inu Yasha. Leaving four stunned people behind.
'Wow,' said Sango finally. 'That wasn't what I'd expected, either!'
'No,' agreed Kagome. She felt oddly liberated. Suddenly, she laughed. 'Well, I suppose, I don't have to argue with him any longer about being his woman, do I?'
'You don't feel … hurt?' Sango asked cautiously.
'Hurt? No. Why?'
'After all, he pursued you quite determinedly. To now accept this so easily …' Sango shrugged.
Miroku nodded in agreement. 'It's rather strange.' He laid a finger on his lips. 'I wonder …'
'Oh? Nothing, never mind.'
'He's probably not understood it,' suggested Shippo.
'Kagome-chan? What will you do now?'
Kagome looked at her friends and smiled. 'I'll go home.'
Shippo grabbed her hand. 'Kagome …'
'Oh, don't worry, Shippo-chan. I'll come back. But I want to go home now. See my family. Take a break, you know. But I'll come back, promise.'
'Yeah, if you don't, I make Inu Yasha get you!'
Kagome laughed and ruffled the boy's hair. She looked up, at the forest where Inu Yasha and Koga had disappeared to. If she wasn't mistaken, she could hear the faint sounds of yelling. She grinned, and then her eyes went back to the part of the forest where she had come from, the part where Sesshomaru had left her.
She blinked, rubbed her eyes, and stared. It was gone. But for a moment she could have sworn she had seen something white among the trees.
Her smile softened. He might have left her abruptly, but he had made sure she was safely back with her friends before leaving the area. He did care.
She blinked the sudden tears away. Perhaps he was already beginning to learn the lesson his father had wanted to teach him.
Perhaps the tiny glimmer of hope wasn't so foolish after all.
She laughed softly and turned back to her friends. Her eyes met Sango's. An understanding passed, and suddenly both of them were grinning slyly at each other.
'Now, Sango-chan,' Kagome began, 'there's something I wanted to talk to you about …'
Miroku blushed and hurriedly dragged the protesting Shippo off.
This time for sure.
(In)Famous Last Words
Now, don't tell me that this isn't an end at all. It is – for this story. Don't tell me I'm evil for ending it at that. I know that. And no need to tell me you want another sequel. It's already planned.
Besides, I did say at the beginning that this is only part 2 out of 4 and don't you expect the happily-ever-after just yet.
What more can I say than thank you all very much for reading and for waiting – more or less – patiently for me to update. Thank you to all who stayed with me from the beginning. And a thousand thank-yous more for the wonderful reviews you left me!
I really can't tell when I will start writing the sequel (I've got to finish The Diary first!). But as a little sneak preview I can give you this: part 3 is called i Demon Menace /i , and our friends will end it for good. Part 4 is called i Death's Priestess /i , and it has nothing to do with Kikyo. -
She goes down the path, steps out of the forest. There are her friends, arguing about what to do. The demons notice her. Shippo dashes forward – and they notice that the barrier is gone. At this point, Kagome is sure Shujin must be dead. Big talking to and fro: Sango explains, Miroku explains, Kagome explains her experience with Shujin and comes to the demonic visitor.
Sango: But how did you escape??
Kag: Well …
Inu Yasha: Sesshomaru?
They all turn to look at the demons who have been very quiet so far. Both gape at Kagome.
Sango: Oh, Kagome. Again?
Kagome blushes and nods. She looks towards the forest and thinks she sees a flash of white.