Chapter 33 Finale

Time goes by quickly for those who, even though they wait for a momentous and exciting event, keep themselves busy and productive. Neither Inuyasha nor Kagome had any spare moments leading up to her finishing university and their long awaited day of mating and of the wedding. They had decided not to have two separate ceremonies; but to combine them. It was different for her mother who had been married before and for whom the civil ceremony was not as meaningful as her mating this time; but for Kagome there were relatives and friends for whom the wedding was an important occasion, and a mating feast would not be understood.

As it was, because of the timing of the wedding, a lot of the preparations were left to Amai and Rin; who was only too pleased to be helping. Kagome was still busy at university and every free day she got was spent now in being fitted for her wedding dress, and deciding what frills and furbelows were needed for her and her bridesmaids. The men folk wisely stayed as clear as possible while all this hive of activity was going on; not wishing to be drawn on preferences for colour or style.

However both Kagome and Inuyasha made time to visit the children's home so that she would not be a total stranger when she worked there more permanently. They also went to the hospital to get to know the children and Kagome knew she had found her vocation; the children needed her help; they already knew and loved Inuyasha and now they would come to care for her too. There had also been a breakthrough for some of the disturbed hanyou.

Kagome had with her knowledge so far, been able to heal two of the so called incurable adult hanyou. Like Inuyasha had sometimes suffered, one of the aspects of their heritage had been overwhelmed by the other; but in their cases it had caused such imbalance that they could not lead a completely normal life. Neither of the hanyou were dangerous and could communicate intelligently; but they were prone to exhausting fits lasting for days, and because of their strengths could cause damage to themselves and others.

They were willing for Kagome to try and help, and were grateful to her for the attempt, even if it did not work; but this time she was able to focus a lot more and her concentration paid off. She found she could manage to form a tiny but very strong barrier inside the brain of both and seal away half of the strongest youki; Kagome was not sure how long it would last or work for; but it was a start and several weeks later, the results were encouraging to everyone. If it did all they hoped, it might be possible to do the same thing for a baby before any permanent damage was done.

Now Kagome was eager and willing to start working; knowing that she was luckier than many of her fellow students, who may now have the job seeking rounds to do. She had a ready made occupation that she knew she would be able to fulfil and that would be worthwhile. Not only to herself, but those who had shown faith in her; that she would be able to carry on learning and who had helped her attain her goals. Soon too she would be mated to her hanyou and all her dreams up to this point would be complete and Kagome was very happy.

Eventually Kagome's last exam was taken and the last of the parties for leavers had been attended; phone numbers, addresses and email addresses exchanged and possessions cleared as the graduates left the little rooms that had been their homes away from home for the last few years. Inuyasha's youkai was very excited; soon he would claim his mate and the turmoil that had kept him stressed and anxious would dissipate; allowing the hanyou to mature and not be the sad pup he still sometimes felt himself to be.

The final month seemed to drag slowly however, even though there was so much to do; the young couple had to be apart a lot, as various things took their attention away from the other. But too there were things to discuss that required both of them, and they had to agree or decide before the wedding and mating day. One thing of importance was to inform Kagome of the inheritance; Sesshoumaru told them that although the income from the property and its responsibility wouldn't be Inuyasha's for a few more years, he had an investment put aside. Sesshoumaru had used the income for this purpose and had done for the last two hundred years when Inuyasha would have come into it properly, if he'd not become the child again.

Two weeks before the results were due, Inuyasha and Kagome followed Sesshoumaru to the enclosing wall of the Manor estate where he told Inuyasha to touch the wall. A bit bemused, the hanyou put out his hand and it went straight through the wall, dissolving an ancient barrier. Two pairs of eyes turned to the Daiyoukai wanting answers and before they went through the now obvious gateway Sesshoumaru smiled and explained.

"When Father deemed that his second son should have an estate, he provided this for Inuyasha. It still forms part of the Western Lands; it is not therefore autonomous, but you have the right to use it within reason as you see fit. You have been learning how to run it; now it is time to see the house that goes with the land."

"I didn't know there was a house as well, Sesshpapa."

"No; it has been behind the barrier that father had erected. You would only be able to have access when you needed a home of your own on the occasion of your being mated."

"What's it like, is it like the Manor?"

"I do not know Inuyasha, I too have never seen it; the barrier was tied to your youki and human blood alone, only you could break it."

"But suppose I…suppose we never reconciled…"

"The house would have remained untouched as Father left it, in that case pup."

"O.K. Let's go."

"You may wish to go alone at first; it will be your house." Sesshoumaru hung back, in truth he was eager to see the hidden house; but it was only right that the young couple his father had prepared it for were the first to see it. He had to smile at their faces though, as they both grabbed his hands and pulled him with them. They both knew how much it would mean to Sesshoumaru too, to see something his father had made. The path was lined with maple trees and fruiting cherry trees were to be seen in a field close by, making a charming orchard with other fruit trees.

As they turned a bend in the path, an ornamental lake with small stream was flanked by willows making a traditional and pleasing picture. The house itself stood proud on the brow of a small incline overlooking the lake and again was traditional; low, with covered verandas around. There was evidence of gardens laid out in the back; Kagome had grasped Inuyasha's hand and was overwhelmed. It was beautiful and because of the spell and barrier the whole place was as fresh and new as when it was built.

Sesshoumaru could imagine his father having just left and he too stared in awe at the beauty that had been hidden for so long on his property. Inuyasha was silent; he was unable to trust his voice or control for the time being, and so he just led the others to the front of the house. It was large but not huge and it was light and airy inside; simply but comfortably furnished and with ample opportunity to add to and make it their own. The furniture that was inside was tasteful and expensive; there were beds and bureaus, tables and chairs, mats and cushions. Everything looked brand new even though it was in fact hundreds of years old.

Kagome could feel a source of energy somewhere in the house and she went in search of it, followed by the brothers; she was certain it was the anchor for the barrier. The power led them to a smaller room almost central to the house; it was furnished as a study, but one whole wall had a huge tapestry hanging the length and breadth of it. Sesshoumaru and Inuyasha were stunned at the rendition in silks of their Father in Youkai form; he stood overlooking his lands and peoples and the words written down the side of the picture said; 'The Power to Protect'.

Both boys could see that he was looking at them as he stared benignly out of the picture; a small smile seemed to be on the huge jaws and a twinkle in his eyes. The energy had not dissipated with the breaking of the barrier and Kagome could tell that it never would, the father had left all he could as protection for his son's home. What she couldn't tell, but both boys could, was that the Inu no Taishou's scent was also impressed in the depiction of him and would also remain as part of the overall protection.

Sesshoumaru of course personally recognised the scent; Inuyasha didn't, but knew what it was and committed it straight to memory. Kagome stepped back for a while, leaving the two sons standing together with their father's image; both were silent for a long time. Sesshoumaru raised his hand as if he longed to touch the picture but he refrained, it was not his to do so; however Inuyasha took his hand and encouraged his brother to touch. He did, but pulled away as if scalded, the fur was not silk but real hair from his father's pelt; it was the reason for the power and the scent.

"I last saw him just this way; on his mission to save you and Izayoi…I let him down."

"Hey, don't start that again Sesshpapa. He smiles on us both can't you see?"

"Even so…"

"No, look, Father smiles at us both; if you hadn't looked after me properly he couldn't smile at me either, could he? I would never know this place existed if it weren't for you; he must have known you would be here with me so he smiles on us together. He knew it would work out for us Sess; he knew. As he wiped the tears that Sesshoumaru hadn't realised he'd shed from the Daiyoukai's face, Inuyasha felt he was not the pup; but the brother Sesshoumaru required right then. The name Sess came naturally and was different to the 'Sesshoumaru' of the past in Inuyasha's mind; although it was just for now while Sess needed him.

Sesshoumaru stared at Inuyasha in amazement although understanding him immediately, and pulled him into a firm hug; but this time he pushed his head under the younger brother's chin, wanting Inuyasha to comfort him in an unusual role reversal. The younger gently rocked the older, as Sesshoumaru found a strange sense of peace from allowing Inuyasha to take charge of him for a change and letting the pup be the strong one; even if only for a few moments. Sesshoumaru was aware that the years had softened him slightly, as had being a parent; and he recognised that sometimes showing his weaker emotion was ironically a strength, even if he made certain it was a rare occurrence.

"Sess, you are welcome to come here any time you want; this picture is more yours than mine." Inuyasha yelped as Sesshoumaru swatted him at this statement.

"This is your picture Inuyasha, he was your father as much as mine and he protected you in the same way he did me, in the best way he could."

"Yeah, he did; he gave me you when he couldn't be here; forget all that before Sess, this is what he wanted for us both. He'd be proud of how you've become my dad in his place. I can't imagine it anyway else now."

"Neither can I pup; nor do I wish to."

"Hah, you will when Kagome and I mate and move out of your Manor, you will be free at last of all my sometimes too human ways."

"You cannot mean that Inuyasha."

"Well, I dunno; I mean I know I am your clingiest pup even now, and I'm the oldest. I know I need your attention more than any of the others, it must grate on your nerves at times."

"Inuyasha, if Kagome weren't here I would take you over my knee right now for such a stupid idea…"

"Don't let me stop you Sesshoumaru, he deserves it." Kagome was glaring at the hanyou who looked like a deer caught in the headlights.

"Whoa, I'm sorry alright; I didn't mean anything."

"Inuyasha, just because this is your house now, it does not mean I am dismissing you from the Manor; we are pack, you are my son and brother and we belong together. I am not giving you to Kagome; I am only lending you to her. You both belong to me and I am a jealous owner as you already should know. Besides, your mating will not excuse you from your responsibilities to the West; you are the one who will not escape me."

Inuyasha smiled at Sesshoumaru; it was important to him always, to be wanted by his brother and he needed to hear it more often than he realised. Reassured he took his brother's arm and they walked off after Kagome, who had already started to look over the rest of the property. It was worth the time Sesshoumaru had taken to see the faces of the young ones, as they slowly came to appreciate that this was to be their official home.

When they returned Sesshoumaru told them that they could ask for anything from the Manor that they wished, to add to their property by way of furnishing and that a staff had already been assembled who were happy and willing to serve at the Small House; as Inuyasha's property was already being called. They would become Inuyasha's responsibility and Sesshoumaru told him with unnecessary pleasure that once he reached his majority the wages of the staff would come from his own income and not his brother's.

So the time was very busy, at first both Inuyasha and Kagome were a bit wary of asking for anything and Sesshoumaru and Hanataba had to use their prior knowledge of the pair to know what they would like; before various items found their way to the Small House. But they soon were happy to see and ask, Sesshoumaru could always say no to a request and they found there were many things in store that they could have with no detriment to the Manor. So rugs and carpets, all with exquisite designs and colours were also laid on the floors; to fully accomplish their purpose too.

Inuyasha and Kagome too were touched to the heart at the mating gifts they received, many of which were to be put to their comfort and wealth at the Small house; in short they wanted for nothing by the time Kagome's results came through. She had done very well; not the top grades by quite a long way, but perfectly respectable for a girl who at one time had despaired of any sort of credibility from her school work.

Everything was ready, they had a home and jobs; all they needed to take the next step in their lives and finally put all things to rest from their previous journey, ready to start their next. Soon all those who were touched by the Shikon no Tama would have their soul's wishes complete; when these two became one. Bearing that in mind, Sesshoumaru had had one last and very special gift for them before the wedding.

This was a pair of leather bound books, soft leather with gold embossed tooling on the cover and the pages were vellum. The first was a facsimile copy of Miroku's journal; copied in every single detail from the original, right down to the leather binding. But this one they could hold and read without fear of it crumbling away, it was the best that Sesshoumaru could do for them and they were very grateful. The second book was something that Hanataba had suggested they might like as a companion to Miroku's book. It was another facsimile and bound to match the other.

This one though was of pictures, the ones that had been drawn by Shippou, Rin and little Inuyasha and given as childish gifts to parents and the various 'aunts and uncles.' Hanataba had kept all these offerings; making no secret at the time that she collected them and had been given many from the other recipients. These too had been preserved along with those of her and Sesshoumaru's pups and now all found their way into this new book which told the story of their lives and the people in them in the children's' own inimitable fashion.

Sesshoumaru had also asked Amai if she had any of Kagome and Souta's early art works and had included copies of these too. As he said, all pups liked looking at picture books and he was happy to give his future 'grandchildren' something to look at. These were gifts beyond compare to Inuyasha and Kagome; and Sesshoumaru found himself with both arms full of grateful, blushing and overwhelmed pups, as they both went to hug him at the same time. Soon the last minute things had been done and the last advice to the pair had been given and Kagome was taken home to the shrine for the last few days.

The night before the wedding, Sesshoumaru stayed with Inuyasha; he knew that there would be last minute nerves and probable lack of confidence and self worth. They did indeed speak a lot that night and once again confidences were shared; it was a time both would remember privately and would have no need to discuss with anyone else. Then in the morning Inuyasha was as ready as he was ever going to be, and the boys went down for breakfast; where Inuyasha faced everyone else, who had lots of jokes at his expense.

Eventually he was saved by Sesshoumaru who sent him away to get ready with Shippou; it had not been an easy choice who to have as his best man, the one to stand at his side at the human wedding. He had naturally wanted Sesshoumaru at first; but his brother said no, he was representing Inuyasha's father in the wedding party. It would have been impossible to choose between his siblings and besides after Sesshoumaru, Shippou had been the one to spring to mind. The Kitsune had waited just as long for this joining as Inuyasha; when at one time, his not so secret desire had been that Kagome and Inuyasha would become his adoptive parents.

Kagome had had no trouble, Inuyasha's four sisters, her own little sister and Rin's daughters and Kouga's youngest four daughters were all going to be her bridesmaids. She had the option of choosing only her sister or all of the others; and as Kietsu didn't want to be singled out from all her little cousins and friends, the choice was made for her. All the girls were going to look like jewels and when Kagome arrived at her wedding bedecked in traditional white surrounded by her little girls, she took Inuyasha's breath away.

Both he and Shippou were in danger of being overcome at the thought that so many hopes and dreams were about to become reality; and Sesshoumaru was worried for both boys that they may not be able to get through the ceremony without breaking down. He could see the overly shiny eyes of the pair but could not reach them to buck them up. It was Kouga who had the answer; in a whisper only youkai ears could hear he said,

"Inuyasha, don't you dare cry and ruin my woman's day before it starts; save it for later." Kouga smirked when he saw the old flash of anger in his 'nephew's' face; it worked though, the anger had dried Inuyasha's eyes and he took control once more, grinning sheepishly when he caught Shippou smirking too. And so it was that when Kagome reached him, he could fully appreciate her beauty and in the eyes of the humans the couple were married; a true fairy tale come to life. She wore his marriage band proudly and he took hers, and there was no one at all who could cynically doubt the love between them.

At the feast later, Kyouko stood up to make a small speech in the honoured place as Father of the Bride. Thankfully, none of the speakers who were all youkai saw the need for lengthy and irrelevant speeches; they were mercifully brief and sincere, even when they said things that had meaning for the young couple that only a few others would understand. Kyouko's words were heartfelt;

"It is with joy that I stand here before you; Kagome is not my blood daughter but I love her as if she were, her love for my nephew which we celebrate today not only is the fulfilment of their wishes, but it gave her lovely mother to me as wife. Amai and I, along with the rest of the family know that this young couple will be very happy. You have our best wishes and love always, Inuyasha and Kagome."

Then Sesshoumaru stood up to give his speech; as he did so, Inuyasha's heart jumped into his mouth knowing that he too would be expected to say at the very least a few words but now he listened to his father.

"Most of you know how close our family is and its unique structure. Inuyasha is technically my brother but he has been brought up as my son since the death of his mother. In all the time I've known him he has shown great loyalty and devotion in every aspect of his life. He has always been a most special child and even though we have had our differences, he has never played false and was always trustworthy in what he has said and done. Kagome I have known since she was fifteen and first fell in love with Inuyasha; she too has more than proved her love for him even from such a tender age, and I can honestly say that I have always known that she is the perfect match for him.

"Theirs is a long standing love and they have waited patiently; most of the time, for this day when they are legally joined. There have been many adjustments to be made on their journey, many opportunities to perhaps flout convention and parental wishes; but they have not done so, knowing how important it is for their families that they wed and bond formally. In our eyes this shows great maturity and concern for the happiness of others, and will go a long way in their dealings with each other to be happy and successful in their shared life.

"Inuyasha, you are indeed a gift to your mother and me; we have loved you all your life with us and much before. If it had not been for your own large heart, I would not have the family life I do and would certainly not have had the happiness that such life has given me. You are vital to our life and we do not give you up, instead we embrace Kagome as our daughter wholeheartedly, knowing that you two have a love that lasts forever."

Neither Inuyasha nor Kagome could stop the tears that Sesshoumaru's speech wrung from their hearts. He never lied; he had always known they were right for each other, even when he had tried to kill her back in the beginning of their relationship. Sesshoumaru had known that his brother was falling in love with Kagome back in his father's tomb and had sneered at them, but it had turned eventually into respect as she defended Inuyasha time and again from his brother. Then he came over to them smiling, he wiped their faces before kissing the pair; all the youkai present and some of the humans had understood the significance of his hidden words. Inuyasha eventually was able to stand to form his own reply;

"My life has sometimes been difficult; but many have helped me not only survive, but to attain my goal in being Kagome's husband. I am not very good with words and sometimes I've hurt people without really meaning too but Kagome has always understood and stayed close to me; she is my light and will always be so. But I would like to take this opportunity to say thank you to all of you who have helped me reach this point, especially my parents; they are my parents in all ways, even if Sesshpapa is my brother too. I cannot say all they mean to me…" Inuyasha sat down; he could say no more, but it was enough.

Later Inuyasha and Kagome slipped away to go on their honeymoon, but really to completely become mates in the youkai ceremony. They were not going far; the Small House had been readied for them. They had had the opportunity to go anywhere they wished, any honeymoon destination would have been given them; but Mama had had a word of advice for her daughter. They could travel later in the year whenever they wished; but for her first times with her mate, Kagome might find it better to be close to her familiar things.

Despite what everyone else might say, Kagome might become sore or uncomfortable and prefer to just potter about on her honeymoon; than feel forced to sightsee or waste her holiday opportunity. It would be better for them both to just take the time to get used to one another. So that was how they found each other, alone at last in their new home and about to start their future together. It seemed unreal to Inuyasha to at last be able to hold in his arms, the woman who had freed him to live all those years ago; many years to him although it was far fewer to Kagome.

He could not hold back his tears this time, nor could she but neither felt embarrassed or ashamed; they had come such a long way to be here at this point. Then when Inuyasha finally marked Kagome as his soul mate at the peak of their ecstasy and the final part of Midoriko's prediction came true; Kouga and Sesshoumaru shared looks of satisfaction with Kyouko and Shippou as the expenditure of youkai became apparent to them. Hanataba just put her thumb up at Amai and Rin, while Ayame grinned; thinking that it was just as well for all of them that Kagome didn't realise that everyone knew what had just happened, the girl still had a ferocious temper.

The mating of Inuyasha and Kagome just marked the end of their first journey together; but obviously it was the start of a second, where pups and families would be a prominent part; but so would being adults and useful in their communities. A whole wealth of new experiences lay in store for them, and everything had set off in the right way, with the love and support of their extended family.

THE END