One month after the well closed for the last time on her daughter, Mama Higurashi was putting the finishing touches for a meal; she was expecting several guests. Mama had known that the well would re-open for Kagome; when her need to return to Inuyasha grew too big for her to be happy without him, and outweighed her desire for her present life.
But besides knowing her daughter very well, Mama had met and become friends with an interesting couple. She had got chatting to a lady in a department store and they had gone for coffee together when they were joined by the lady's husband. It was Kasaigin and Sesshoumaru who had deliberately set out to befriend her; neither was certain of the wisdom of such an action but it only seemed fair to warn her beforehand.
However before doing so, they had watched Kagome closely since the well closed and knew that the girl, although appearing happy for the most part was also putting on an act at home; they had seen her bone deep misery when she was away. Her scent was a giveaway and so despite the fact that she was growing healthily and developing naturally into a more adult body, the youkai could tell that she was unhappy.
Mama was certainly not ignorant of the fact either; she knew that Kagome felt torn after the euphoria of getting rid of the Shikon no Tama. She had been so very relieved to get home safely, but as time went on she missed not only Inuyasha but her friends and the life on the other side of the well; Mama actually watched her closely to make sure that Kagome didn't get such a depression that might cause her to act unwisely.
While the girl lived at home and attended school, it gave her a stable environment and kept her very busy as she caught up and learned more; helping to not give her too much time to dwell on what she had lost. Mama suspected that Kagome and Inuyasha had already formed some form of bond; she was not miko herself but she had some spirituality and could feel the aura of the pair and it had changed over the last year that the two had spent together.
If that were the case she was afraid that when Kagome finished school she would either throw herself into whatever she did next without regard for her health or would become lethargic to the point of illness. Mama wasn't sure what to do for her daughter and worried a lot until she met with Sesshoumaru and Kasaigin; they were able to confirm that a youkai could bond with its mate without an actual physical relationship, if their youki was strong enough as Inuyasha's definitely was.
With Kagome and Inuyasha their powers, miko and youki had bonded without their knowledge a few months before Naraku was killed. Neither of them was experienced enough to understand that it had happened, although Sesshoumaru knew the monk had known and he had warned the lecherous Miroku to be silent and when the time was right, the Western Lord would inform the pair. He had not had the right opportunity to do so before the well closed.
Over the course of many lunches, dinners and meetings for coffee, the youkai and human had come to know one another very well and become trusting of each other. Mama had learned that Sesshoumaru was Inuyasha's father and not his brother, when she assumed that the two had now come to an understanding and stopped trying to kill each other. She was surprised at the revelation, but was also pleased that her adopted hanyou son had found a true family who obviously now cared for him.
Of course the subject matter of Kagome's well travelling came up during their discussions; it was the reason that the initial contact had been made after all. It was left to Sesshoumaru to explain that the well would re-open for Kagome some time after she had finished school, but that it would not remain open for her to travel back and forth as she used to do.
This piece of news had been broken to Mama one evening after she had been invited to dinner and subsequently offered a room to stay for the night at their mansion while Sesshoumaru endeavoured to answer any of her questions. It was a calculated risk to inform her and thereby risking her stopping Kagome from going near the well again; but from observing her over the years and knowing that all she wanted for her children was their happiness, as parents themselves they felt it only right that she know in advance that her daughter would leave and be unable to return.
Mama Higurashi had had many questions rather naturally; she wanted to know why Sesshoumaru and Kasaigin were risking telling her this now when they had not spoken at any time before during Kagome's adventure. Sesshoumaru said that their policy had been not to interfere at all in case they compromised the time line; but if Mama had stopped Kagome at any time on the quest permanently, they might then have had to see if they could influence her.
They had watched over the young couple too while they were on their journey from this side of the well and understood how difficult it had been for Mama to let Kagome return sometimes; especially when her daughter had been upset by their son. They were also very grateful for the woman's tolerance and understanding of Inuyasha; Sesshoumaru remembered many of the times when the boy had been most obstreperous and although he understood and willingly took the blame for a lot of his son's attitude, he wouldn't have blamed Mama for protecting Kagome in refusing to let her go.
As it happened Mama had proved most amenable to the young hanyou and trusted him with her daughter's safety and indeed her life. She could see beneath the pup's rough exterior and had spent many hours with him while Kagome attended her school infrequently; she knew that Inuyasha was a true soul with a large heart and she had loved him as her son. She had been just as grief stricken as her daughter when the well closed and she had seen his expression and knew the sacrifice he had made to give Kagome back before the magic pulled him towards his own time.
Mama needed to think on the ramifications of this news; she knew she could trust the youkai couple to be telling the truth and she was grateful for the warning. But she needed to deliberate on the facts; understanding fully why they had told her, but feeling the weight of decision pressing heavily. Deep in her heart though she knew that she wouldn't stop Kagome if that was what the girl really wanted; but before Mama would agree, she needed to know how Inuyasha would receive her and if he would still be stubborn about his feelings and cause her daughter more hurt.
In the morning after breakfast, Sesshoumaru, Kasaigin and Mama sat down in the comfortable lounge room to further discuss the matter. They had dropped the formalities of titles long ago;
"Sesshoumaru, truly speaking, you already know how this works out don't you? Informing me is mainly a courtesy that I am happy to receive but the outcome for you has already happened."
"One version of the timeline certainly has happened; but you could conceivably change what I know as reality. The idiosyncrasies of our children's lives being as they are bound by the time vortex are unpredictable in any case."
"In that we agree completely. I can tell you honestly that the thought of never seeing my child again fills me with despair; I know other parents go through the same thing but…I will not stand in her way Sesshoumaru if it is what she wants."
"You are a brave woman; I have always thought so, even before my son and I were reconciled and on the other side of the well. I do not know whether I have ever thanked you properly for treating Inuyasha as a person and not the vile creature most considered him. Your loving care and of course your daughter's, gave him heart to carry on and believe that his life was worth something. Had this journey not taken place I would never have had the chance to know my son; I owe you more than I can repay."
"I must know something though before I would consent to her leaving for good; if I let her go I need to know that Inuyasha will care for her and love her for all the time she lives. He must become her husband; can you reassure me that she will be the exclusive one for him?Has he missed her as much as she missed him?"
"At the moment and since the well closed Inuyasha is having a hard time in a similar way to Kagome. His greatest fear while they hunted for the shards was when Kagome left for her home; he feared the well closing on her and leaving him alone and now that has come to pass aided by his own hands. To leave her was for him, a greater sacrifice than if he'd died for her. He is busy during the day as he helps the monk with his work and if he is lucky he sleeps from exhaustion.
"When he does not sleep he often goes to a high hill and stares over the landscape lost in memories; he has done this of old. He used to believe that the spirits would take kindly to him and carry him away; that he does no more, but I always have someone on guard and they pay particular attention when he is melancholy. We are barely reconciled as of yet, he has no one that truly understands what he did in helping Kagome come home to you and he keeps his own counsel; this makes him very lonely at times.
"He visits the well every three days; a practice he doesn't realise that the kitsune told This Sesshoumaru via my ward Rin. Inuyasha's heart is desolate; the area around the well is permeated with the scent of his tears and he barely has any hope of seeing Kagome again. Unlike you who will no doubt be able to greatly encourage Kagome to keep her hopes up now that you know the truth; I was unable to give my son any such reassurance and neither was anyone else, the old miko and the monk both feel that Kagome came with the jewel and has gone in the same way.
"Inuyasha sees his friends carrying on with their lives while his gets emptier; he is included as part of the family but all it does is emphasize what he lacks and he does not even see the other girls who would like to be noticed by the now famous Inuyasha. I have seen him speaking to Kagome when he sits in Goshinboku; it is the closest he feels he can get to her and where he spends most of his nights."
It had been enough to convince Mama that Kagome would be happy for the rest of her life in the feudal times with Inuyasha and her friends there and elaborate plans had been made with Sesshoumaru, who was to provide the camera and the battery charger and other sundries that would make it easier for the girl to leave a living memento for her family. The window of time for which the well would stay open was unknown and so it meant storing stuff; hidden, but at hand for Kagome to take when she went, there would be no return trip if she left.
In the meantime Mama carried the burden of knowledge alone; she told no one, not Souta nor Grandpa, for fear that they would give the game away and Kagome would be too distracted. When the time came it was only her daughter's decision to make, Mama didn't want months of guilt piled on top of the girl that she would carry with her. But she did her part in keeping Kagome's heart and hopes buoyant; encouraging her dreams and wishes because who knew but that one day the well would hear the deepest desires of her heart.
Not until Kagome had finished school did Mama inform them all that the girl would soon have to make a decision and long hours of discussions were held around the dinner table and at bedtime. Souta instantly understood his sister's desire to return to Inuyasha and surprisingly so did Grandpa; they had seen Kagome's cheerful personality under too much strain to doubt her.
Every day since school ended, Kagome visited the well; but it wasn't until she was finally ready to take the last step to leave her family, that the well had opened and Kagome saw the feudal sky reflected at the bottom. There was no need for prolonged goodbyes; they had all been said over and over in many ways, no one was in any doubt that Kagome would be missed or that she would miss them, but lives move forward normally and Kagome's destiny was to be with Inuyasha for the rest of her life and she left with her family's blessing.
That had been one month ago and now Mama awaited the arrival of her visitors. She had been the one to suggest the time to meet Inuyasha and her grandchildren; she knew that Kagome could not be alive in the present, Sesshoumaru had been most careful to make sure that Mama understood this, but she was alive in the past. Another conundrum; but there had been many in Kagome's life and Mama was good at adapting, her daughter was alive and happy and that was all that mattered to the mother, apart from getting to know her child's offspring.
The time had arrived as a knock on the door brought Mama's attention back to the present and she opened up to Sesshoumaru. He assessed quickly whether or not she was ready for this and was fully prepared to postpone the visit if necessary, but her smiling face full of eager anticipation put his doubts to rest; at some time she would have to face the reality and she was strong. Patting her shoulder he went back outside to allow Inuyasha in alone.
He entered to see Mama holding out her arms to him and he stepped in and wrapped his own around her; he had not seen this woman who had been such a lifeline to him for centuries and his emotions were running very high.
"Inuyasha, my child…my son."
"Mama" he whispered "I can't say…thank you enough…letting her come back to me…I haven't any words…I loved her so much." With that short broken sentence Mama understood that in real terms for Inuyasha, Kagome had been gone for many years and she began to weep, but mainly her tears were for him and the loss he had suffered yet again. Inuyasha though was angry with himself for saying that, but it was the first time he'd been able to tell Mama how much he had loved her daughter; or shared in the grief of her death with someone so important to his wife.
There would be plenty of time to catch up later with details of life on the other side of the well but now it was time to meet her grandchildren; so offering Inuyasha a hankie to dry his face while she attended her own, they were soon ready and Sesshoumaru allowed his grandchildren to enter the house. He left immediately however and went to collect Kasaigin for the meal; they would leave sufficient time for the emotional meeting to have calmed down before they returned.
It didn't take long for the introductions to be made or for the pups to feel like they had always known their grandmother; she looked for Kagome's likeness in them and they saw their mother in her. Souta and Shinmaru presented Mama with the boxes containing Kagome's journals and the camera with the precious memory cards; they had been preserved for all that time as well as could be and although they showed the signs of their age, they could be read.
The meal was a great success and promises were made to visit the next day so that they could all meet their Uncle Souta and Great grandfather. Souta was overjoyed to see his hero again but was a little bashful at first meeting the pups who were all much older than he, and he too was saddened for a while that in this timeframe Kagome was no more; but like his mother he had adapted and could cheerfully accept that she was hale and hearty in the past.
Over the next few months the time was busy and the shrine house always full to capacity with Inuyasha and the pups. Mama was taking her time to read the journals that were in depth about her daughter's life and she sympathised when Kagome had written that sometimes she felt more like Inuyasha's mother rather than his mate. The journals were a candid reflection of the feudal life she was leading and Mama was pleased that her daughter had no regrets about her choices. Inuyasha had never read his mate's writings, she had made it known that they were private missives to her mother and he was too honourable to defy her wishes.
The photos were a different matter; these were a delightful reminder for the family and a very welcome glimpse into their earlier lives. Often the living room was crowded with not only Inuyasha's but also Sesshoumaru and his family came; they too were interested in the early day's pictures that filled in many of the gaps for them. Although these were happy times however; Kagome's absence was keenly felt; making it bittersweet on occasion for all concerned.
Eventually a pattern emerged and calm once again descended upon the reunited and now extended family; and it was time for Mama to speak again privately with Inuyasha.
"I've never truly thanked you for giving Kagome back to us my son and I do so now; you have made us all so happy with the family too, I am very proud of you both."
"Feh Mama, I'm just glad you let her go again; she was my heart."
"It must have been extremely lonely for you since she passed" There was no answer to this nor did she expect one. "Inuyasha, you know I consider you my son don't you?"
"Yes Mama; you have always made it clear and I have treasured that for the longest time."
"Then why have you hidden your other pups from me…their honorary grandmother."
"Four hundred years alone is a very long time and I know Kagome wanted you to find someone after her; she was very concerned that you not spend the rest of your life in mourning and I am sure that in your father's court someone will have seen your worth."
"Oh Mama, I mated a niece of Kasaigin one hundred and thirty years ago; we met at one of Papa's social functions and got on well. She understands about my feelings for Kagome and has never rebuked me for them; as Mama Kasaigin advised her, she has made her own place in my heart without trying to make me forget Kagome. In fact it was she who suggested we name our first daughter Kagome."
"Inuyasha I would dearly love to meet my new daughter in law and grandchildren, I am lucky really, I have a daughter and family alive and well in the past and one in the future, how many pups are there?"
"Only three, youkai are slower than humans to reproduce…you are sure this is what you want?"
"Of course dear; I won't pretend that sometimes I do find it all hard to deal with, but life goes on and the sooner we deal with its vagaries the better, you are my son, and I feel your children are partly mine as well and I don't want you feeling shame over them around me for any reason."
"Thank you Mama; you really are the most remarkable lady."