A/N: As expected, I had no time until late Sunday to begin this chapter, because this week was brutal. And I would have finished it earlier, but I got Ocarina of Time (I love last gen games!) as a graduation present, and people should have learned by now to stop buying me RPGs. I will obsessively play them until I beat them, then play them again on hard mode.
So, as you may have guessed, last chapter. Boy, this was a ride. It makes the record for the longest time ever working on a fic at 8 months, but the once a week thing certainly helped me get everything done on time...mostly. It'll be that way with most fics from now on.
Oh, and on the kid names...I was lazy, and couldn't find any Japanese inspiried names that I liked (they are living in a pseudo medieval EUROPE, after all...) so I Japanized 'Arthur' and 'Fiona' (I saw Shrek 3 just a few days ago, give me a break) and plugged them in. Though, I like the girl's name...maybe I'll use that some other time.
(Try reading this with the Titanic music playing. I even teared up a bit.)
Oh, and after the end, there's info on the next fic that'll appear either this weekend or the next, so stay tuned!
Chapter 35: …And They Lived Happily Ever After
The moment had finally come…the moment that seemed to have been awaited for so long…But even so, with the coming events, everything that seemed so simple before, but now seemed so terrifying, Kagome couldn't help the pounding of her heart as the clock ticked down the minutes before it began.
"I don't think I can do this, Sango…" Kagome whispered, her voice nearly dry in worry as she stared at herself in the mirror, hardly believing what she was seeing.
Eight long months had passed since the princess had finally been betrothed to her handsome knight, now king of the Midlands. It was eight months of waiting, and watching as Inuyasha would visit her for a week, then leave her again, to settle the many disputes in his new lands. Old noble families quarreled with new nobles appointed by the king, some villages and tribes of demons rebelled when they heard the news, not wanting the country to be united once more. By now, all of that had been settled, along with the large task of restoring the old palace of the Midlands to its former splendor.
That was still not completely done; even now, Kagome could hear the slight pound of hammers as the carpenters worked away on the east wing of the palace, soon to be restored as its current west wing was. Both she and Inuyasha had hoped that the palace would have been finished by this date; but alas, not everything could be perfect.
But somehow, through the long months of wishing for this day to come, it had…and now, with everything dangling on this precipice, ready to fall and change her life forever, Kagome couldn't help but feel scared at the very thought.
"I'm not ready," she spoke again to her reflection; the woman in the mirror dressed all in white…
"What are you talking about?" Sango asked, glancing up from where she was adjusting the hem on Kagome's snow white gown. "You and Inuyasha have been ready for this ever since we found you both in that linen cupboard during that banquet."
Kagome had the decency to blush at that memory, when she and Inuyasha's time alone had been rudely interrupted by noisy servants looking for them. Eight months of a formal betrothal meant that their time to be alone was severely limited, so they had to take what they could, and if it meant cramped in a linen cupboard, so be it. But they found other times, mostly at night when she had to bribe Hannah to let Inuyasha in and leave them for a few hours until dawn, when he would be gone to the Midlands again, to finish securing the borders before the wedding.
She, along with half the court of the Human Lands had come to the Midlands one week ago for last minute preparations. The place was just as Kagome had remembered, though now, it no longer had the air of neglect and a sad future. Now, that the Midlands had a king, and a dedicated king, there were no more demon raids on innocent villages. The people could live their lives the way they wanted, knowing that they were safe. Finally, the country had a king, and a soon to be queen, that would protect them from all they had suffered.
Though, the Midlands' queen-to-be was ridden with pre-wedding jitters. "I can't help it, Sango! I've faced a powerful demon, several betrothals with repulsive men, near-death at the plague, even, and yet I still can't get over this stupid fear…once this is over, everything will change."
Her friend stood up, to admire Kagome's beautiful wedding dress in the mirror. It was truly a marvel; with pearls sewn in designs of doves all over the gown, with sleeves long enough to drape on to the floor; just the fashion in the Midlands. Her hair was let down—for tradition rather than honesty, of course—and a long veil, set aside for now, that would trail all the way through the palace chapel. It was a real beauty, made by the Midlands' tailors, to even rival the skilled talent in the Human Lands.
Lady Sango smiled back, "True, things will change, but it will be change for the better. Wasn't it, just a month ago, that you said you wished this day could hurry up and arrive, and now, you are so afraid of change that you do not want it to happen?"
"Yes," Kagome sighed, "But I am leaving my family, my friends to live here…Though I will be with Inuyasha, I will hardly see my mother and brother again, and everyone else that I know and love in the Human Lands. Given a choice between them and Inuyasha, I would choose him, but…"
"You won't be totally alone," Sango cut in, "It's a good thing the capital is so close to the border; my estate is only a three day's ride from here, so I'll be able to visit often."
Kagome seated herself in one of the ornate wooden chairs in the small room. "And its not just that…Before all this, marriage was something not for love, but for convenience….and so many go wrong anyways, so you can't blame me for being just a little bit worried—"
"If you and Inuyasha survived everything, including this long eight month betrothal together, then your marriage could never go wrong now. True, it'll take a little work on both parties, but if you survived Naraku, what can't you survive now?" Lady Sango spoke sensibly with a smile. "Besides," she added in a mutter, "You shouldn't make this sound so bad…I may be in need of a marriage soon as well."
Oh, she had not heard about this. "I thought you never wanted to marry, Sango," Kagome accused, while her friend blushed.
"Well…maybe things have changed."
Enjoying this immensely, the princess asked, "Would the man in question be Lord Miroku?"
Her friend blushed even redder. "His estates may be gone, but he could live at mine…and I wouldn't have to move away from Kohaku…it is convenient."
Kagome raised an eyebrow, while grinning at her friend's happiness all the same. "Convenient? But, shame on you, Sango, for marrying someone far below your position."
Sango, however, retorted, "With the fashion of marriage these days, that doesn't seem to matter very much, does it?"
Kagome couldn't help but laugh at that. "True."
He was here; at the altar, in the same chapel where he had kissed Kagome all those months ago…though now, it hardly looked as it did then. The place had been cleaned up and restored, though, Inuyasha demanded that some things—such as the ivy carvings in to the stone that looked like the real ivy that had once been there—were to look as they did before.
Inuyasha could remember that day so clearly—the day their budding relationship had been torn apart because of her duty to the Midlands. But no more. Here they were, back in the same chapel where he had pledged his heart to her, to finally be joined in the eyes of the law, never to be separated again.
But, the groom was more nervous than he should be on a day like this. So many people had arrived—were sitting in the newly carved pews in the chapel, waiting for their king to be married to his queen. Those who didn't know thought this was a matter of state, marrying the king of the Midlands to the princess of the Human Lands, but those who did had a smile on their face that made Inuyasha even more uncomfortable.
So many worries filled his mind—what if he didn't make Kagome happy? What if she didn't like living so far from home? What if she didn't want to be queen of the Midlands after all? What if things didn't work out as they should? What then?
"Are you nervous, Your Majesty?" Came a voice from behind him. The hanyou turned, to see a grinning Miroku, looking more pleased then he should.
"Shut up," the hanyou growled at his newly appointed head of the King's Council. "Shouldn't you be hanging around your woman, right now?"
"That would be nice, but since I am part of the ceremony," It had been short notice on finding a Royal Priest, or anyone qualified to take on that position in the Midlands after it had been war torn for so long, to it had been up to Lord Miroku to place the crowns on the king and queen's heads, though a normal priest would run the ceremony. "I believe I am right where I should be," he finished. "Now tell me, Inuyasha, what are you so worried about?"
Figuring he had no choice, the hanyou sighed, "Kagome. I mean, what if she changes her mind—"
"She's had eight months to change her mind, Your Royal Majesty. I believe she would have left already if she was planning on it. Anything else on your mind?"
The hanyou couldn't help but rant, "And there's the matter of the guest list. I noticed that The Bastard and The Wolf showed up."
The Head of the King's Council sighed, "As a monarch, you will have to deal with foreign relations. Since King Sesshoumaru rules the Demon Lands, that means him. And I think Her Highness invited Sir Kouga."
Inuyasha couldn't help but mutter, "If that wolf tries anything…"
"Anyway, you shouldn't be worried about this. What you should really be worried about is when, after the wedding feast, the courtiers come in for a blessing of the marital chamber."
The hanyou's face blushed a deep scarlet faster than seemed possible. "Wh-what?" he sputtered. "But how can they just…? If they set one foot in our room, then I'll kill them all!"
Miroku looked mildly surprised. "You didn't know? They do that at all royal weddings. After all, if you want to get support for your country, you should support traditions, and it is tradition, after all…"
The ex-monk rolled his eyes, "Would you rather they do what they do for lesser courtiers, and have the maids display the stained sheets the next morning for all to see?"
It didn't seem possible, but the new king blushed even deeper than he did before. "They're not coming near our bed—or our goddamned sheets—anytime soon!"
"You seem rather casual about the act in the bed rather than what happens afterward, Inuyasha…" Now Miroku broke into a large, lecherous grin, "So the rumors are true? Looks like you and the princess have been keeping secrets."
If he wasn't in front of such a large crowd of people, Inuyasha would have strangled him. "Listen you—!"
His friend's imminent death was interrupted when the choir of boys began to sing, indicating the start of the wedding. The king and his advisor scurried back to their places, as the large oak doors slowly opened—revealing an angel to Inuyasha's eyes.
She was so beautiful in this moment, her gown a nearly blazing white, as pure as she was. For a moment, she looked a little nervous, the day she had anticipated finally come, until her dark eyes, hidden by the veil, met the amber watching her from afar. Both hardly heard the sweet music played as she neared him with each step, walking not on stones, but clouds, feeling of floating towards him, together with him at last…
The normally moody and stoic hanyou couldn't help but smile slightly at her as she came closer, his angel, finally free to be with him. She seemed to be far away, at the end of the chapel, and then she was there, beside him, time altering between lasting for eternity and speeding up. Heart pounding, breathless, her soft hand was taken in his, as they knelt before the priest.
Words were spoken, worse they did not hear beyond the joy in their hearts that it was finally happening. Finally, finally, after everything they went through, the day had come when it all amounted to this. They were together, at last, forever…
A ring; a silver band forged from silver found in the southern mountains of the Midlands, with a small emerald that Inuyasha himself had found months before on progress was slipped on to her finger…after wearing so many men's rings, this one meant the most to her—forged with meaning, and a purpose, and even more, a perfect fit.
The wedding had been practiced, so Kagome knew what came next—Miroku, approached, bearing two, newly polished, silver crowns. The larger of the two was placed upon Inuyasha's head, and Kagome couldn't help but stifle a giggle—the silver clashed horribly with his own silver hair. And then the simpler crown went on her own head, making her close her eyes for a moment to feel the weight; the weight of her destiny, now twisted to fit her own happiness.
Happiness…And now, as Miroku proclaimed, "I now pronounce King Inuyasha, and Queen Kagome, rulers of the Midlands!" she knew at last what happiness was.
She and Inuyasha rose up, hand in hand, as they had always been, turning to face their people. Happy tears filled her eyes as they stood up and clapped for them both…for the present, and for the future ahead…whatever happened.
Turning towards him, with tears blurring her vision, Kagome knew, Whatever happens now…I am happy…This is happiness, true happiness.
Inuyasha smelled her tears, and not being able to clearly see her eyes underneath her veil, he lifted to look at her as she sobbed in happiness. "Kagome?"
Damn propriety, this was the happiest moment of her life! Kagome didn't care anymore as she leapt into Inuyasha's arms, placing her lips on his before he had the change to react. But he accepted it, kissing her back—damning propriety and proper behavior to Hell.
And their subjects merely continued to smile and clap, somehow knowing that these two people, so much in love, could make a change. They showed everyone that marriage didn't have to be about sharing wealth or creating alliances…it could be about simple love as well. They didn't know how yet it would help, but after two hundred years of unrest, any change would be for the better.
Change for the better, Sango's words echoed in Kagome's mind as she continued to kiss her now husband, knowing yes, it was change, but change only for good. They had been just a princess, and just a knight, but now, it wasn't about being a king and queen…everything they had gone through had shaped them to be thus; just a man, and just a woman, so much in love.
All differences in their status had been lost now, never to return.
"Hannah! Hannah!" Kagome called as she raced down a hallway of the palace, bursting through the door of the nursery to look inside—no one.
The queen sighed, folding her arms in annoyance. She had hoped Hannah would have been able to tell where Inuyasha was, since she knew for a fact he visited the nursery several times a day to visit the children—but since Hannah was gone, that meant she probably left on an outing and took the children with her, too.
It had been five years since that day when she had married Inuyasha in the little chapel far below, and things had changed so much. She had thought, that after they were finally married, she would live her happily ever after, with no more struggles.
That was only partially true. A country that had been divided so long couldn't be reunited in a single night. There were several assassination attempts, where Inuyasha proved that he did not need any bodyguards to protect himself and his wife from harm. And after the birth of their second child, there had been a rebellion by the remaining demons, in which Kagome had no choice but to flee to the Human Lands with their children and wait with no word from her husband for months until at last the rebellion had been crushed and all was safe again.
Every day there were quarrels, border disputes, and matters of state to handle, in which Inuyasha proved he made a fine king. Most of the population of the Midlands were peasants who lived in villages, and with Kagome, who knew what the nobles wanted, they were able to make decisions that would generally keep everyone happy. Popularity with the people was essential for a new monarch trying to keep order in a newly won land.
But despite the struggles, Kagome and Inuyasha did find their happiness. They had two beautiful children and, the queen couldn't help but smile as she placed a hand over the small bulge, just beginning to show, a third on the way. Neither of them minded; children was something they had both wanted. Hannah turned out to be the perfect nursemaid for them, as she was good with children, and soon after they came to the Midlands, she met a young squire and soon had a little one of her own running around the nursery.
Their other friends received their share of happiness as well—Shippou was now a page, in training to become a knight of the Midlands, Kagome's brother Souta had been learning from the councilmen how to be a good and effective king, and was due to claim the throne on his own in two years, and as for Lady Sango and Lord Miroku—they were happily married, Sango with a child of her own, and since her brother was finally showing some improvement, they were free to visit the Midlands often.
However, Kagome hadn't heard much of Sir Kouga. He was still a knight of the Human Lands, having turned down her offer to join the ranks of the Midlands. Since he was the prince of a powerful tribe in the Demon Lands, he explained it was better to look like he was in unwilling captivity than to look as if he betrayed them to work for another country. Kagome didn't quite understand, but he assured her that this way, his tribe's anger would not be focused on her country instead. However, his fortunes were looking up—she had heard a rumor that he was having a small relationship with the daughter of another wolf tribe's ambassador to the Human Lands. If Sir Kouga finally found love, Kagome was happy for him, though Inuyasha still cursed him if he got in the mood.
Thinking of her arrogant husband reminded her why she had gone searching for him in the first place—and also made her more determined on finding him. She searched the palace thinking on the wonderful news she had to tell him—she just received a letter from her mother, saying that she and her brother were coming for a visit! She hadn't seen her mother in so long…not since that time, two years ago when she was hiding with the children while the rebellion was fought against.
Finally, she found him, sitting on a bench in the gardens, frowning over some papers on matters of state and whatnot. But, when the king of the Midlands turned and saw her, his day suddenly brightened up. He couldn't help but smile while she folded her arms at him in mock annoyance. "I was looking for you, you know."
He shrugged, "You found me now, it seems. Or are you going to pretend to stay mad at me all day?"
Kagome rolled her eyes at her husband, and, with a smile sat down next to him, leaning slightly against his shoulder. "I wanted to tell you that I got a letter from Mama…She and Souta are coming here to visit in a few weeks."
The hanyou couldn't help but smile. "I like your mother. I wouldn't mind having her and the kid around for a week or two…besides, you miss them, don't you?"
"Mmm," she nodded, leaning closer to him, all anger evaporated. "Besides, I can't wait to tell Mama about…" her hand drifted over the small bulge in her belly, hidden by the red bodice of her gown. Inuyasha's strong hand came to drift over her own, knowing he'd soon be able to feel their future child kick and grow, another little one to fill their nursery. He was afraid at first, at becoming a father, but somehow…he loved children and wanted to give them a good life; a life that he never had. Kagome, however, sensed this and hoped, that somehow she would be able to talk him into a limit on the number of babies that would appear in the royal nursery. "If I keep this up, I'll never be thin again," she muttered under her breath, hating the feeling of gaining several pounds every time she was pregnant.
"You know its worth it," the hanyou murmured in her ear, as they fell silent in this tender moment, amber eyes drifting over to see the castle, now restored to its former splendor. "Remember the first time we saw this place?" he asked, changing the subject.
Kagome nodded, "Back then, the Midlands was barely a territory, and now it's a country. Things have certainly changed."
"We've changed, too."
The queen glared back at him. "That's right; now you won't listen to me when I give you orders."
Inuyasha grinned, "I don't have to; I'm a king."
She elbowed him in the stomach in a very undignified manner. "It was decided that we would be joint rulers," she growled.
"But with this," his hand gently rubbed the curve of her belly, "I need to take over the politics for a while."
"That means you go to the meetings and whatnot, then bring me the papers and ask me what to do later," she chided, smirking at him.
Shrugging, the king admitted, "You handle the politics, I fight the dragons, remember?"
Snuggling against him, Kagome muttered, "Don't I know it."
Only a moment later, they heard two tiny voices yelling, "Mama! Papa!" Turning, the king and queen saw their two children running towards them, laughing as they went. The oldest was a girl who was four, Fione, and then, their two year old son, Arsharu, who went by the baby-name Fione called him when he was born, Aasa. Fione was nearly the spitting image of her father, with silver hair, ears, and amber eyes. Aasa in turn, looked like his mother with her hair and eyes, yet still retained dog ears, though his and Fione's were smaller proportionally than their father's.
As the children came to them, Kagome looked up and saw Sango and Miroku, with Sango carrying her newborn son on her hip, and Hannah as well, though she didn't come and closer and looked like she was already worn out from chasing the children though the palace grounds.
"Mama, Mama!" Aasa said as he jumped onto Kagome's lap. "I killed a bug!" he said triumphantly.
Kagome couldn't help but laugh. "Aren't you must my brave boy? You're turning out just like your father, hmm?" Though, Inuyasha gave his wife a momentary glare at that as Fione jumped into his lap.
"Come on, let's go see Auntie Sango and Uncle Miroku," Kagome stood up, carrying her toddler son on her hip, walking over to their friends with Inuyasha trailing behind, their laughing daughter climbing up on his shoulders.
"Ah, Your Highness, it seems ages since we last met," Miroku grinned back at her as she approached. "And every time we visit, it seems you are with child once more."
A growl was heard from behind as the hanyou caught up, but Kagome warned, "Inuyasha, the children are here," which made him quiet. "I can't help it, really," she explained. "The councils are always after us to have more heirs to make a secure line for the throne, and he isn't one to refuse an order like that." She glared pointedly back at him, who merely shrugged it off.
"If it's what's best for the country—" Inuyasha began, setting their little girl on the ground while she ran around in circles with her brother.
"Oh, you can't fool me. When it comes to something like this, you don't care one whit about the country rather than what you want for yourself."
Changing the subject, the former exterminator glanced at Kagome's children. "The children seem to be growing well. And soon, you'll have another little one to look after."
Sighing a bit in exhaustion, the queen began, "They are wonderful, but sometimes, they can be a bit too much on one person."
Laughing, Sango came closer so Kagome could see her son, who now slept in her arms like an angel. Sango and Miroku had waited longer to have children, though Inuyasha had muttered several he was surprised the ex-monk had that kind of restraint in him. The men, went over to talk about politics, but Kagome wanted to know specific things about her homeland from Sango. "How is everyone, back in the Human Lands?"
"Fine," her friend told her. "Your mother rules as she always did, and your brother is beginning to start to take up the title on his own. Sir Kouga is well, and, as you know, seeing much of Lady Ayame, too. And I did hear some news about Lady Kikyou just a few weeks ago."
"Kikyou?" Kagome had wondered what happened to her after she seemingly disappeared after the Naraku affair, five years ago.
Sango nodded. "She apparently fled to the south for a while, and now that her father passed away, she inherited his estates. She has not married and I doubt she will, but since she loves children, she has been taking care of several whose parents have died in wars or demon raids…From what I heard, she is quite content."
Knowing her cousin's motherly nature, Kagome couldn't help but smile slightly. "Yes, Kikyou would be content with that." She glanced around at the bright sky above, lost in thought. "Things have certainly changed in just five years…but it must be a 'change for the better' as you said."
"Damn right it's a change for the better," Inuyasha cut in to the conversation, coming to stand next to his wife. "Now I've gotten to pay you back for all the times you ordered me around." Kagome play punched him in the arm, though, the hanyou couldn't help but grin all the same.
Hearing Sango yawn, Kagome asked, "Are you tired?"
"A little," she admitted.
"Then why don't you go up to the castle," the queen suggested, gesturing towards the large doors. "Your rooms are prepared for you, as usual."
"Thank you," her friend smiled. "See you at dinner then?" Kagome nodded as both Sango and her husband headed off for the castle, leaving the king and queen alone in the gardens.
Kagome and Inuyasha watched as Hannah rounded up the children and began to take them inside unable to keep from laughing slightly as their son attempted to uproot half the garden's flowers and take them with him before Hannah put a stop to it. "I never thought I would see this," Kagome admitted, her smile fading slightly as the painful memories from five years ago came upon her. "That we'd actually be together…and our children…"
"I didn't either," replied Inuyasha, turning back to her. "But, after everything we went through, I suppose it's something we deserved, right, naive princess?"
Unable to keep from grinning, Kagome answered, "Insufferable knight protector."
"But I wasn't just any knight protector," he spoke softly his strong arm wrapping around her waist. "What was it that you called me? The 'Protector of Your Heart'?"
"Always," she murmured, meeting his lips once more in a gentle kiss.
The end! It feels like just yesterday I was starting this story and grinning evilly at all your reviews wondering what would happen...ah, time flies, doesn't it, Kagome?
Well, as promised, here's the preview for the next story coming out either this weekend or the next (I have to finish my outline first. T.T)
Fallen Sakura: Tokyo, 1925. Kagome, known as the 'Sakura Blossom of Tokyo' for her budding career as a geisha, puts everything for her career, as that is all she has left after her childhood and her family were ripped from her at a young age. With her patron Kouga, it seems that she is well on her way to becoming the most famous geisha of all in the Shinbashi disctrict. But a surprising meeting with a hanyou delivery boy turns her world upside down. It is the greatest stain on a geisha's reputation to have an affair, but Kagome soon has to decide between her career, and this wonderful new feeling called 'love'.
So, there you have it! It might be rated M for...well, 'situations' and perhaps language too, since I've held back a bit on how rude Inuyasha can actually be, and I might want to do his potty mouth justice for once. (If this bothers anyone, please let me know, because my little angel on my shoulder is telling me to keep it to T.)
Oh, and I am trying to make this new story as accurate as possible, because contrary to popular belief, Memoirs of a Geisha (the book) is NOT the end all be all of what actually occured in the geisha world. So, massive research on my part was required. (Meaning lots of fun little beforehand author notes!)
Now after that incredibly long explination, THANKS FOR READING! Hope to see you again soon! (And if you didn't review, shame on you!)