Disclaimer - I do not now nor have I ever claimed to own InuYasha

Hi All

Please insert as many pages of 'I'm sorry' & 'Please forgive me' as you deem necessary to ease for frustration at the supreme lateness of this chapter.

The last few months have not gone according to my plans or anyone else's for that matter. I've barely even had time to take a breath. I did have grand plans for the final chapter of Beloved and I even managed to start writing it 3 times - only to get stuck after about a page. So I threw out all my ideas because I just couldn't seem to get them to work.

I'm not sure if this chapter will satisfy anyone's expectations but I hope you at least like it; even if it is only a little bit. Maybe when I finally get around to the re-write I will be able to make it better.

Things seemed to have settled in my world at the moment so I'm using this time to start work on 'Threatened' - I won't promise when the first chapter will be up but I really hope it's not too far away. Anyway I'll stop rambling and let you get on with the reading.

Kai

PS I wasn't sure what to call the chapter so please send me your suggestions. Also even though it's the last chapter in this story don't forget I said that in the future I may add a 2nd story to it.


CHAPTER 36 –

Kagome desperately fought against the dark cloud of sleep that threatened to steal away her conscious mind; the stronger the pain that coarsed through her body the heavier the cloak of sleep became. NO Damn it STAY AWAKE her thoughts screamed. The muscles in her legs shock as she tried to keep moving forward but with each step it felt as if she wouldn't be able to remain standing for much longer. Her breathing was becoming more labored and with each breath that passed her lips she cringed at the burning sensation that filled her lungs.

The desire to just lay down and give up was strong; almost too strong to be ignored. Just as Kagome was about to give into her body's desire for rest she felt her waist encircled by a warm embrace. She gazed up with tear filled eyes at the blood stained face of the woman she once thought of as her enemy.

"Kagura" she breathlessly sighed leaning against the wind goddess's body.

"Don't you dare go down cause I'm NOT carrying you" Kagura tried to sound angry but instead her voice echoed her own pain and exhaustion "can you make it?"

"I think so…." Kagome cringed as more pain racked her body "This isn't good"

Kagura raised one eyebrow as she said "That's obvious"

The forest that surrounded them howled with raging torrential winds; the intense force of the winds threw dust and debris all around causing a wall of darkness behind them. And yet they could still hear the screaming roars coming from the other side.

"This is bad" Kagome whispered as she glanced behind them "Really bad"

"Well whose fault is that?" the sarcasm in Kagura's voice was clear.

"I didn't know we'd be attacked" Kagome whined in self defense and it was true; how was she supposed to know that sort of thing after all she wasn't a fortune teller or anything.

"No but did we have to come all the way out here?"

"It was too hot in the castle and I only wanted to swim"

"But all the way out here?" Kagura looked around them at the thick forest "It too dense in this part of the forest I can't even use my feather to get us out of this mess"

Kagome felt bad that they were in this mess all because of her desire for relief; it was true that inside the castle she had felt like she was melting from the heat but wasn't there a nice cool spring within the castle grounds that they could have used; so why had she wanted to come here? She knew the answer to that and she also knew that it was a selfish one but the small lake where she had been returned by the others was special; she felt connected to it some how and it always managed to settle her spirit and the child within her. InuYasha had come here many times with her but not recently. He had deemed it too unsafe and had made her promise never to come here alone in her current heavily pregnant condition and she had kept to that promise. Well it's not like I didn't keep my promise she told herself, I mean I'm not alone…I've got Kagura with me. She didn't bother to remind herself that she had convinced Kagura to come by threatening to go alone.

Thinking of InuYasha and how mad he was going to be when he returned from the hunt made her resolve to keep moving stronger. Maybe just maybe if they got back to the castle and dressed their wounds they could come up with a believable excuse or maybe they could hide their wounds and no one would ever know. Realising the likely hood of that actually working hit Kagome like a smack to the back of the head; there was no way they would be able to come up with an excuse for what had happened; not one that would be believable by any means nor could they hide their injuries until they healed.

"Hey hey are you listening?" The sound of Kagura's voice snapped Kagome out of her thoughts "I swear…."

"What? What were you saying?"

Kagura cocked her eyebrow at the bewildered look on Kagome's face "I said I think there's a clearing just on the other side of those trees. If we make it there I'll be able to get us out of here on my feather"

"Oh" Kagome looked towards the thick trees Kagura had pointed too "Lets go then"

Kagome and Kagura glanced over their shoulders one last time at the barrier of wind behind them before moving forward. Both said a silent prayer that it would hold long enough for them to reach safer ground.

Upon reaching the clearing Kagura immediately transformed the small white feather she wore in her hair into its larger self; but due to Kagura's injuries she had to release her hold over the wind barrier holding back their attackers. No sooner were they seated then a shower of arrows began to rain down on them. Using what little remained of her strength Kagura called forth a mighty gust of wind to drive the feather towards the castle.

The blood seeping from the wound above Kagura's right eye had begun to flow more steadily causing her vision to become blurry; every time she blinked her sight worsened until she almost couldn't see. Fear gripped her body and she gasped loudly as the sight in that eye vanished altogether and she felt a firm pressure accompany the darkness. As her hand reached for her face she realized that she hadn't gone blind as she'd feared; Kagome was holding something over the wound in an attempt to stem the bleeding.

Kagome was growing more concerned with each passing second; something was wrong and it unnerved her that she couldn't explain why. The pain that pulsed through her body was different somehow and was not easing; if anything it was getting worse. Had their attackers used some sort of spell or poisoned arrows? She couldn't tell; although she didn't feel like she'd been poisoned but still…… Placing one hand on her large swollen belly she prayed that everything was alright. A small part of her was glad that the link she shared with InuYasha wasn't working as it should right now. They'd discovered that the further her pregnancy progressed the less intense the link between them was. If he knew what sort of trouble they had gotten into he wouldn't let her or anyone else for that matter hear the end of it. But right now she wished he was here.

By the time the castle came into sight the pearl white of Kagura's feather had become stained with the crimson color of their blood. Most of their wounds had been superficial grazes except for the large gash above Kagura's right eye and torn flesh on Kagome's left hip both these injuries had been caused by arrows and both injuries needed serious attention.

The guards that surrounded the castle were more than a little shock to see the state in which they returned but knowing their place and the wrath of Lord Sesshomaru they said nothing. Kagura barked an order that they had been attacked at the lake and were possibly still being followed. As Kagome and Kagura entered the castle the guards had already taken up position to protect the castle.

Somehow finding themselves being lead into Sesshomaru's study neither woman complained when the demon serving girls began to dress their wounds.

xx – xx – xx

The calm mountain air was shattered by a thunderous roar and the splintering of wood. At the first explosive blast the birds took to the sky in fright; filling the once clear sky with feathers and their squawking protests at being disturbed. The ground rumbled with after shocks as trees fell in rapid concession. Standing in the middle of the destruction stood a panting rather annoyed hanyou.

InuYasha had had enough; between the bickering and bitching that Shippo and Jarken that had been going on all day and the cold attitude of Sesshomaru it was a wonder that he hadn't killed them all or himself. He had lost count of how many times he'd asked himself why he came as it was just too high a number to remember. But the other choices of where he could be right now weren't that much better.

Something twinged deep within InuYasha's subconscious mind; a voice was calling out urging him to listen. A deep frown settled across his forehead as he tried to ignore the bickering that had once again started between Shippo and Jarken so that he could focus on the voice. The louder the voice became the harder his heart began to beat until he felt as if it would explode through his chest.

Realizing the urgency of the situation InuYasha spun quickly on his heels and raced towards the castle. As he flew passed Sesshomaru he yelled over his shoulder "We have to get back NOW"

xx – xx – xx

Even though their wounds were dressed and had already begun to heal Kagome knew deep in her heart that something was definitely still wrong. The heavy dull sensation she had felt in her lower back seemed to be spreading around her waist like a wide belt. It wasn't painful as such yet it was starting to cause a lot of discomfort. A tidal wave of heat radiated through her body and it caused an uncontrollable urge to pace. After a few minutes of what seemed like endless back and forth in front of the large open fire place Kagome felt a cramping sensation begin to build within her lower abdomen. Creasing her brow she concentrated on easing her long strides into slower shorter ones in an attempt to ease the sensation but found it wasn't working.

Kagura watched as Kagome paced awkwardly in front of her; with one hand supporting her lower back and the other the huge swell of her stomach. The sight slightly amused her as it seemed like Kagome pretty much waddled instead of walked. Kagome halted mid step and glanced up; something about the look in Kagura's eye concerned her. The words died in her throat as she watched the eyes of the woman in front of her grow wide with shock.

"Arr…Kagome" Kagura whispered; her voice shaking slightly as she spoke "I think your water just broke"

Kagome blinked several time "My what?" she asked as she followed Kagura's gaze to the floor "Oh…." Kagome looked back up as her brain finally kicked into gear "Oh" Kagome stood dumb founded as Kagura's words and their meaning began to sink in. ….'your water just broke'….but wait didn't your water breaking mean labor had started? And didn't the start of labor mean you usually gave birth? That can't be right…..can it? "Oh" she said again before growling "SHIT"

Kagome was too wrapped up in her thoughts that she failed to notice she was being lead back to her room; she didn't even seemed to be effect by the rush of activity that had begun around her.

InuYasha where are you? Kagome's thoughts cried out as she was stripped of her clothing and gently bathed with warm water. She was snapped out of her thoughts as the strong scent of her mate invaded her senses. Just as she opened her mouth to cry out to him she realized that she had been dressed in one of long white shirts. Now fully alert to her surroundings Kagome marveled at the speed in which the demon serving girls had prepared the room for the birth. A pile of freshly clean cloth lay neatly folded at the foot of the bed; the thick furs that normally covered the bed had been removed. A fire was beginning to take hold in the fire place and Kagome assumed it was to heat the 'hot water' that people always screamed for when a birth was taking place. She climbed into the bed as instructed and watched in fascination as the women moved busily about the room.

Kagome lurched forward as she felt the air in her lungs forcibly driven out as a feeling of restriction took hold of her lower stomach. 'Is this what they call a contraction?' she wondered as a loud groan escaped her lips. The feeling only lasted a few seconds before fading away. With the ability to breathe normally returned Kagome relaxed back against the mountain of cushions that had been placed behind her. Closing her eyes she took several deep breaths to steady her racing heart.

Opening her eyes as she felt the cool brush of a damp cloth on her forehead Kagome stared into the eyes of maids. The woman didn't look that much older than herself but there was a sympathetic wisdom in her gaze and Kagome found herself comforted by the woman's gentle smile.

"That wasn't too bad; I can do this" Kagome announced with confidence.

The woman tried to hide the laughter in her voice as she responded "My Lady that was nothing compared to what is to come"

Kagome frowned "It gets worse?"

"Yes My Lady" The woman smiled "Much much worse"

xx – xx – xx

InuYasha raced blindly through the mountain pass driven by something deep inside his soul that was telling him he had to get back to Kagome……fast. He'd lost track of time and was unsure how long ago he'd started running or even when he last remembered the others being with him; was it only a moment ago or possibly hours. His mind was focused on one thing and one thing only…..Kagome.

He'd known that the hunt had been a rouse to get him out from underneath Kagome's feet. Hell he even knew he'd become a rather annoying painful thorn in her side over the last several weeks. Everywhere she went he followed, anything she tried to do he did for her. InuYasha had panicked when the link they shared first began to lesson in its intensity and so he demanded that Kagome had to stay where he could see her.

The feeling that was telling him to return to Kagome's side was growing stronger and stronger.

xx – xx – xx

The hours had stretched on until the afternoon had merged into early evening. The night torches had been lit around the castle and news of the impending royal birth had spread like wild fire but due to the nature of Kagome's origin or rather her spiritual powers very few demons were willing to step foot inside the castle.

Kagome's scream pierced through the air and it seemed to grow in velocity as it echoed through the stone walls of the castle. Kagura made a mental note to hurt Sesshomaru if he even thought about asking her to carry a child. At first Kagome had seemed like she could handle the birth but as the hours dragged on and the pain she was experiencing increased it started to seem less and less likely.

With each contraction and subsequent wave of pain that washed through her body Kagome felt like she was being tortured….slowly. She wondered if all labors were like this or was hers different because of the merge or even the fact that her child would be part demon. Her throat felt like she'd been eating rough sandpaper and her mouth was as dry as sand; every muscle in her body throbbed and ached while her limbs felt heavy and tired. Kagome had lost all hope of having any sort of patience a few hours ago and with the way she felt now she didn't even try to rein in her emotions. She hurled abuse at those in the room and at those who weren't but most of all she screamed abuse about InuYasha not being there.

Everyone inside the bed chamber was startled by a sharp piercing scream followed by a thunderous crashing noise from somewhere inside the castle. Protectively Kagome clutched her swollen stomach while Kagura moved to stand in the centre of the room snapping her fan open. All eyes turned to the door as the sound of loud and rapid footsteps echoed along the corridor outside; growing closer and closer. As the heavy wooden door was slammed open Kagura instinctively raised her hand ready to strike down the intruder.

"Don't even…..think about it" InuYasha gasped as he glared at the wind goddess "Where's Kagome?"

Kagura didn't even have a chance to answer him as Kagome made her presence known by way of screaming through another contraction. With ears flattened against his head InuYasha rushed to Kagome's side.

"Kagome…"

"Where's Sango?" she demanded through clenched teeth

InuYasha was shocked to say the least and it showed on his face "She's with Miroku at the slayer's village"

"Well then go get Miroku"

"Miroku? Why do you want Miroku?" even though InuYasha knew he had nothing to be jealous about it still irritated him that his mate wanted another man when she was about to give birth to his child.

Glaring at him Kagome hissed "Cause I want Sango"

"But…."

"But, but nothing" Kagome almost yelled as she reached up quickly to grip on of his ears "You listen to me I want Sango and you had better get her for me are we clear"

"Alright alright I'll go get her" he growled. InuYasha immediately regretted his tone as tears welled up in Kagome's eyes.

"You don't have to yell at me" she whined as she released her hold on his ear

InuYasha sighed even though he was used to Kagome's rapid and unpredictable mood swings he still felt guilty that he'd hurt her feelings "I'm sorry. I'll go right now and get Sango for you ok so please, please don't cry" he kissed her gently on the forehead before turning to leave the room.

He didn't get more than a few steps before the scent of Kagome's tears flooded his senses again; pivoting quickly he raced back to her side. "What's wrong? I said I'd get Sango for you" InuYasha tried to brush the tears from her face "Please Kagome don't cry"

"Why….are" Kagome began to hiccup "Why...are….you….leaving….me?" she sobbed loudly

"But you…" InuYasha sighed deeply and thought to himself 'What's the point?' "I'm not going anywhere…..I'm staying right here"

InuYasha cradled Kagome's head against his chest as she cried softly. One of the young servant girls approached him and quietly assured him that word had already been sent earlier that day for Lady Sango and the others to return to the castle. And her belief was that they should arrive sometime in the morning.

Kagome lurched forward in his arms as another contraction took hold of her "I can't do this anymore Inu…..please….I just can't" she breathlessly panted.

InuYasha had never felt more useless than he did right now; he knew he didn't have the right words to take away her pain or to give her strength and so he just held her gently and hoped that somehow she would be able to feel his strength and love for her.

xx – xx – xx

The first rays of dawn were just beginning to spread across the horizon as Sango and the others entered the castle grounds. Upon entering the main entrance to the castle they were greeted by a frightened Shippo scurrying quickly away from Lord Sesshomaru's study mumbling something about it being unsafe in there.

Even as Miroku opened the study door they all knew a very bad argument had taken place inside.

"This Sesshomaru….."

"Well this Kagura" Kagura emphasized each word as she sarcastically mimicked Sesshomaru "has had enough of your bitching. No one here has gotten any sleep and I'm sick of hearing about just you so if you can't or won't sit still and be quiet then I suggest you go elsewhere" she glared coldly at him "And Sesshomaru that somewhere had better be far, far away"

Sesshomaru blinked before fixing the woman before him with an icy glare; Kagura slapped her fan against her thigh as he opened his mouth as if to spit abuse at her.

"Hope we're not interrupting?" Miroku said as he tried not to laugh at the demon lord being put in his place "Has the miracle arrived yet?"

Before anyone could respond the castle filled with another of Kagome's screams which this time was echoed by an almighty growl of pain from InuYasha.

"Does that answer your question monk?" Sesshomaru spat as he turned away from them.

xx – xx – xx

After knocking gently on the door to Kagome's chamber Sango slowly walked in but was taken aback by the soft rumbling growl coming from InuYasha. As her eyes focused on the bed she knew that the growl was not one of warning for her but one trying to offer comfort or support to Kagome. InuYasha was positioned on the bed behind Kagome. His back rested against the wall with Kagome's back nestled firmly against his chest. He hung his head low to rest beside her face and his arms were gently wrapped around her stomach.

Sango couldn't see Kagome's face but she could tell by her relaxed breathing and the delicate way her fingers caressed one of InuYasha's ears that his growl was indeed giving her comfort. Smiling sweetly Sango was about to exit the room when another contraction hit Kagome. She rushed towards her dearest friend and gripped her free hand tightly.

Positioned near the end of the bed was a human woman who had come to assist with the birth since no demon mid wife would due to Kagome having the ability to purify demons. The woman was gently trying to urge Kagome that it was now time to push.

Kagome glared at the woman with hatred "Easy for you to say" she grunted.

InuYasha's gently rumbling had become louder as pain ripped through his head "Let go, let go" he hissed through clenched fangs.

"NO"

As the contraction built so did the amount of pressure Kagome placed on InuYasha's ear. Over his yelps and demands for her to stop Kagome kept saying no.

"Kagome I really think you need to stop" Sango tried to help but realized her mistake as Kagome glared at her with blood red eyes and crushed Sango's hand with enough force that the bones cracked slightly.

"Why?...it's his fault….he did this to me…..he needs to suffer too" she hissed

"Push my lady" the midwife urged

"Damn it I am pushing" Kagome snarled at the woman

"that's it Kagome" Sango urged trying to block out the pain in her hand.

"There's the head my lady, another few pushes and your child shall be here"

Kagome was exhausted and she collapsed back against InuYasha "No more….I quit" she panted heavily

"You can't quit Kagome it's nearly over" Sango said as felt relief that the vice like grip on her hand had eased.

"No, no, no, I can't do it" Kagome whined

InuYasha gently brushed Kagome's sweat soaked hair from her face "Oi wench….." he started to say

"No, no, no" Kagome continued to chant until a soft blue haze began to emanate from her body

"Damn it Kagome stop that" InuYasha barked

Kagome continued to chant no over and over as her spiritual power built until it started to pulse; almost in time with the building contraction that flooded her body. InuYasha felt the slight sting of her purifying power and was torn with what to do. Feeling he no option but to get his mate to submit and calm down InuYasha bit down on the scar that rested in the junction between Kagome's throat and her collar bone. As his fangs reopened the mating mark she bore Kagome instantly became still and her purifying power receded. The deep rumbling of InuYasha's growl vibrated through Kagome's body and suddenly she felt she had the strength to go on.

xx – xx – xx

InuYasha starred down at the exhausted yet peaceful face of his mate as she held their new born child. Never had he felt such peace and terror at the same time and never had he felt so loved than he did right now. The link between him and Kagome had returned to normal moments after the birth and the first feeling that had surged through his body was her love for him and their child.

"So Inu what do you think of our son?" Kagome asked softly.

"He looks like you" InuYasha whispered "And me"

"Of course he does" Kagome said as she looked down at the small bundle in her arms. With jet black hair, tiny claws and golden eyes he was a perfect mix of Kagome and InuYasha.

Reluctantly Kagome handed over her son to the midwife so she could finish cleaning him up from the birth. InuYasha moved to stand in the middle of the room so he could watch the woman closely when suddenly he remember that he wanted to ask Kagome something important.

"Oi!" he turned towards his mate "Do you wanna explain the stitches in your hip?"

"Well you see….." Kagome tried to smile sweetly as she stumbled over her words "It's like this…"

"We went swimming"

InuYasha swung around at the sound of Kagura's voice in the doorway. "Swimming?" his brow knitted in confusion

"Yes at the lake" Kagura confirmed

"So what happened that required stitches?" As InuYasha asked the question he noticed for the first time that Kagura also bore fresh stitches above her eye.

"We were attacked" she stated as she closed the door.

Kagome cringed at Kagura's words and she quickly covered her head with the sheet; she knew she was in for it now as InuYasha's anger flowed through the link and his angry growl roared through the air.

"KA…GO…ME"


Well...what did everyone think?? I'd like to send a big thank you to everyone who has read my story and taken the time to send me their thoughts. Your kinds words of encourgement and support have meant the world to me. Thanks again

Kai