This really is the end, folks. As I said when I started the extensions to this story, I would continue writing until I ran out of song and this is the final verse. I feel like this story has come full circle. Everything ends up where it is supposed to be. If feels finished now and I take peace in the peace I have been able to give them. I love you guys. I hope you've loved this. Peace.

Ivy

I do not own Inuyasha. Not mine. Never will be. Unfortunately.

(Vienna Teng's Eric's Song)

strange how certain the journey

time unfolds the petals for our eyes to see

strange how this journey's hurting

in ways we accept as part of fate's decree

so we just hold on fast

acknowledge the past

as lessons exquisitely crafted

painstakingly drafted

to carve us as instruments

that play the music of life

for we don't realize

our faith in the prize

unless it's been somehow elusive

how swiftly we choose it

the sacred simplicity

of you at my side

She knelt at the stone monument and, for the first time since she had watched his ashes and sword placed beneath the earth, Kagome smiled as she reached out her fingertips to caress where his name had been carved into the granite. "Inuyasha." She whispered and felt a few happy tears slip down her cheeks. Nearby she heard the laughter of children and the call of their parents. Her mate was nearby, watching her as she again commemorated his brother's grave with her tears. "I'm happy, Inuyasha. I'm home and I'm happy again. I miss you and Sango and Miroku… And Shippo. Sweet, brave Shippo. And Rin. But we're all together in one-way or another, aren't we? At least for a few moments."

They had moved their friends' and family's remains to rest beside Inuyasha shortly after the council had been honorably discharged and the court had disbanded from Sesshomaru's palace. The little cemetery in the gardens on his lands had grown with each generation of their children that had passed into the next life. She raised her eyes and they fell on the stone marked with the name Akira and she felt herself tremble.

He knelt beside her and wrapped his arms around her, drawing her back against his solid form. He kissed her cheek with a gentle pressure. "He knows, Love. They all know and they rejoice with us. It is time for celebration now. Let's go back to our family."

She nodded and stood with his help. Her fingers entwined with his as they walked. Her abdomen was only beginning to betray the tiny swell where their son was growing. They were quick to learn that her fertility was in step with a normal youkai females ensuring they did not conceive more than once every century. They also learned that their children would be born with human features but full youkai power. Another gift of the jewel. As they approached the small group of their family who sat at tables in the gardens setting up a picnic, Kagome's eyes fell on where their daughter, Rin, named for the daughter Sesshomaru had lost, sat with her mother, Mrs. Higurashi, cradling their grandchild. Kagome smiled and tightened her grip on Sesshomaru's hand. The modern era had been kinder on them than any other time had. The Taiyoukai's tactical knowledge and ruthlessness in battle had easily translated into a business savvy that was not to be trifled with. Coupled with Kagome's knowledge of time's progression, the pair had ensured that they and their large family of adopted and blood family would never need to want for anything.

In simpler ways, with the punk era upon them and gothic looks such as white hair and strangely colored contacts, when Sesshomaru was not in his office working and cloaked by his beloved's power in order to look 'normal,' he could walk in the world without fear of persecution or possible death from the long gone hunters of youkai.

Mrs. Higurashi stood and walked to her daughter, embracing her tightly as she had the day that Kagome knew it was safe to return to her home. The day the well had finally sealed completely. The horrible day that Inuyasha had died and she had almost lost her beloved Sesshomaru.

He had pulled their car up along side the tall staircase that led to the shrine and began to step out to open her door. She'd gripped his hand, stopping him, though her eyes were still gripped by the stairway.

"What is it?" He asked softly, holding her hand gently. Over the centuries he had never found himself bored or upset by his mate. Everything about her, every part of her person complimented him entirely as he did her. They were more than suited for each other. It was as if they had been molded and formed precisely to be one for eternity. Still, to his delight, after five centuries of standing beside her, she still could surprise him.

"I just want to savor this moment a little longer, Love. Centuries ago to the day, almost to the hour, I was waking up in your arms and your bed." She turned her gaze to him and smiled a faint, wicked smile. "You realize this is actually the closest day we have to an anniversary?"

He chuckled and leaned to kiss her deeply. Only a few months before they had taken delight in siring their second child. His desire for her had not ebbed and, to his complete joy, unlike most youkai females, hers had not either for a moment. "Do you think your mother will mind so terribly that we have never wed in such a long while?"

She crinkled her nose, causing him to laugh heartily. "You gave me a ring that I wear. She doesn't need to know that it doesn't mean what she would want it to mean. As far as I am concerned, there's a point when ceremonies lose their meaning… And there isn't one that could compare to the meaning I know from being called your mate."

"I other words, I am to keep my mouth closed regarding the full nature of our union."

"If you like sleeping in bed with me."

"In five hundred years you have never forced me out."

"In five hundred years, you've never given me a reason to." She laughed and kissed him again, squeezing his hand. "Come on. Before I lose my nerve."

He smirked as she slipped from the car before he could reach the door to open it. He raced to meet her on the stairs and gripped her rear, receiving a sharp yelp and his mate falling into his arms as his prize. She clung to him and giggled before he caught her lips and kissed her deeply. She had hidden his markings for this particular meeting. She wasn't certain how her mother would take not only that she'd gotten together with a blood thirsty Taiyoukai and given him a daughter and soon a son coupled with the fact that he looked like he spent too much time in a tattoo parlor. In time she'd let down the illusion. For the moment, first impressions were the most important thing.

"I love you." He whispered and kissed her again, breathing in her scent and the underlying scent of their son. He had gotten used to the smelly, noisy twenty first century. He had enough time to acclimate and the preparation and warning of his mate to help him adjust.

She blushed and returned his kisses with love and need. She knew with complete certainty that, while she had been the reason he'd adapted so easily, that she could never have survived eternity without him. She was a mortal first and his love second. However, he made the long years seem magical and never once did she feel the weariness of her true age. He kept her young. Still, every time he said those words, she felt a jolt through her that was inexpressible. "I love you too." She murmured and held to him a few more moments before she could find the strength to take his hand again and finish walking up the staircase to the shrine.

At the shrine in front of her home, her mother knelt and worked with the spring bulbs. Kagome smiled and walked up toward her. Mrs. Higurashi did not look up, but spoke to the two who had come to the shrine as she worked.

"Please give me a moment. Once I am finished with this bulb, I will show you around."

"There's no hurry." Kagome said softly and noticed how her mother tensed at the sound of her voice. Sesshomaru wrapped an arm around his mate's shoulder, smiling as the woman stood and turned slowly to look on her daughter.

"Kagome?" She asked with disbelief in her eyes. "Baby… I… I felt the well close… How are you here?"

Kagome smiled and approached her mother, embracing her tightly. "Because I didn't come by the well, Momma. I had to wait a long time to come back, but I'm here." She trembled as her mother's arms tightened around her, holding her fast in her embrace. Mrs. Higurashi had always had a sense of things. Of the magic in the world. For a moment, she'd thought that with the closing of the well, she would never see Kagome again. She was glad to be wrong.

Sesshomaru smiled and nodded to Mrs. Higurashi as she looked up and took him in. Slowly she released her daughter and looked her over more closely. Her eyes fell on the ring, and then she smiled with watering eyes. "He has taken care of you?"

She nodded and blushed deeply. "This is Sesshomaru, Momma. We have been together… A very long time."

Mrs. Higurashi laughed. "I have no doubt of that… Am I a grandmother yet?"

Kagome's blush deepened and Sesshomaru approached, caressing his mate's cheek. "We have a daughter named Rin who only recently made us grandparents and she now carries a son to be born in the early fall."

Mrs. Higurashi glowed and hugged her daughter tightly, kissing her cheeks. "I have to meet them. Souta will be so happy to be an uncle and grandpa… Well… We'll make sure he doesn't have a stroke, but he'll be happy too."

Kagome glowed and nodded, feeling Sesshomaru's hand resting on her sounders as her mother turned to gather her gardening tools before leading them inside for food and talking. She felt the tension leave her and knew he felt it as well because his arms encircled her abdomen gently so she could lean into him. "I'm happy…" She whispered. "So very happy."

"You are home." He murmured and kissed her cheek.

"No… I've always been home because I've been with you. Now I just have what I thought I'd lost all those years ago… And still…"

"You won't lose them for a while yet. Time is a strange thing, Kagome." He murmured as her mother returned from the shed, brushing dirt from her hands. "It can go quickly or slowly. We will endeavor to ensure this time goes slowly. I promise you."

They had gathered, finally, in their old home, Sesshomaru's palace. Long before, he had given the property to the government to make it into a museum. However, as provided in the provisions of the deed, whenever his family wished to occupy the grounds, all visitors would be turned away for the duration of that day. The gathering had only begun a few hours before. Over two hundred descendants of Sesshomaru and Kagome's children arrived. Most still worked for Sesshomaru in one capacity or another. If not, they were connected to the family through money or other organizations who did philanthropic works that Kagome managed.

Sesshomaru looked out over his gardens. Still, after half a century, they were his even though he knew he had given them up. They were so different than he remembered, however the small cemetery had been maintained and protected. Akira's descendants had ensured that the property was maintained in such a way that was respectful to the dead located on the grounds. They also ensured that Inuyasha's sword as well as Sesshomaru's, which he had buried with Akira's ashes in honor of his son who had given his life in the protection of his sisters and family.

It had been one night when soldiers had descended on a group of his siblings had been visiting nearby towns to help with the infirmed who had fallen to an illness brought by European invaders. They had gone on Kagome's orders and Akira had accompanied them to ensure the girl's safety. The sound of gunfire had sent Sesshomaru into action and he had descended upon the town, slaughtering the soldiers with his acid whip. He had resurrected his son with barely enough time to salvage his soul. Akira had lived a full half century longer. When he had died, Sesshomaru had only felt it right that his sword be buried with his mortal son. Akira had been the best warrior of all Sesshomaru had trained and had possessed the greatest valor of all his sons. It was a sign of his mourning and love and he had never regretted it.

"Sesshomaru?" He looked to find Kagome's teenage brother, Souta, standing nearby. Kagome was with her mother and their daughter and grandchild, cooing over the little one.

"Yes, Souta?" He replied softly. The boy amused him and often provided him someone to talk to of late. He reminded him of a younger Akira. When his son had just begun to learn himself.

"You love Kagome, right?"

It was such a simple question, but it struck him for some reason. "With all I am, Souta. I would be nothing and entirely lost without her."

Souta smiled faintly and looked out toward the cemetery. "You know, the whole time I knew Inuyasha, he never said that when I asked him. He'd never admit it. Maybe he never really did. Don't know."

"He loved her." Sesshomaru affirmed with a touch of sorrow in his voice. "However, his heart was possessed by another who did not deserve it in the slightest."

"How do you figure? On both, I mean."

"The heart of an inuyoukai, even when their blood is mixed with humanity, is a devoted and entirely passionate thing. Though Inuyasha loved your sister, his first love was always his first devotion. He could not ever give himself entirely to her and I am lucky for that fact."

"But how do you know he loved her?"

Sesshomaru smiled faintly as his mind fell back on that night. The night before they had pitted themselves against Naraku. The night that he had been asked two favors by his brother, both of which he had ensured were kept.

"I need you to do something for me, Sesshomaru. I know you hate me, but I don't think this will be all that much of a problem for you to do."

He looked to Inuyasha, removing his gaze from the sleeping miko who was curled next to the fire. "Speak."

Inuyasha smirked. "I'm probably gonna die tomorrow. If I'm close… If there's no chance I'll live or even if there is, you gotta promise me you won't let Kagome save me and you won't try."

"Are you certain?"

"Yes. I'm tired, Sesshomaru. I'm aching and I just want peace. I'll never have that when every day I look at her and I see Kikyo… Especially when I know that her heart won't ever be mine."

"Is that all you wish to ask of me?"

"No."

"This is becoming a very long list of requests considering I care very little for you, Inuyasha. In fact, I would gladly end you before Naraku if I did not need you to help end him."

"Just shut up and listen for once." He sighed and ran his fingers through his hair. He too looked toward Kagome where she rested. "I know you love her. She loves you too; she just doesn't know it yet. I want her to be happy. I want her to have what I couldn't ever give her. I know you can do that. I just want to know that you will. Promise me you'll take care of her and protect her and make her happy. I won't find peace if I don't know that she'll be alright."

He had agreed to his brother's wish and had never looked back. It was why he knew that Inuyasha had loved her. He had let her go so she could be happy. "There are times in a man's life that the measure of their worth is learned in degrees and others that is proven entirely with only a few words and actions. Inuyasha gave me his blessing to love your sister and care for her and protect her forever. Until then, he had been entirely selfish concerning her. It was at that moment I knew that he loved her completely because her happiness was more important than anything else."

"I knew he was a good man." Souta murmured and caused Sesshomaru to smile again.

"He was a good man. I only wish he knew that I thought so."

"I'm sure he does, Love." Kagome's voice touched his ears and he turned, smiling down at her. Souta chuckled and walked back to where his mother sat with his niece. Satori was sitting nearby now with the new infant cradled in her arms. "When were you going to tell me that?"

Sesshomaru shrugged and pulled his beloved into his embrace tightly, kissing the crown of her head. "Now."

"What else haven't you told me?" She asked, looking up at him with pure, divine blue eyes. He always felt close to heaven when he let himself drown in her gaze.

He leaned and kissed her deeply and passionately, warming at the sound of her sigh as it reached his ears. "That I love you and will never leave your side."

"But I already knew that." She breathed, meeting his eyes again. "I've never doubted it."

He caressed her cheek and smiled, sudden bliss overwhelming everything else. "But the words have power. They make the sentiment real. So I say them."

She blushed and embraced him again, closing her eyes. Time would go on. They would still lose whom they loved and more who they would love would slip into place. But they would never forget. Could never forget. Everything was necessary to be whole.