1I do not own InuYasha or any of the characters created by Rumiko Takahashi
A/N: If you read the last chapter before I added the A/N to it, you read the wrong version of chapter 247. (It's a long story how that happened, but the proper chapter 247 is MUCH different than the one you read.) You need to go back and reread that one before reading this one, or you'll be asking why I have some of the same stuff in this chapter that I put in the last chapter. Plus, you'll be missing some good stuff.)
Kagome stepped out of her own house, carrying the bucket of mop water. Emptying it, she walked around to the side of the building where InuYasha was working. The hanyou was putting a piece of wood on his chopping block, but the way his ear flicked, she knew he heard her coming. He straightened up, gave her a quick smile, then split the piece of wood on his chopping block with one neat blow.
"Floor's done?" he asked, picking up the cut pieces.
She nodded, and wiped the back of her hand across her nose, brushing away a piece of hair that was tickling it. She tucked it back under her scarf. "Now we just have to wait for it to dry. Where's Choujiro?"
"He went back down the hill to see if he couldn't get Aki back. He needs another pair of hands," the hanyou said.
"But not yours?" she said, surprised.
"Don't know," InuYasha said, putting the cut wood on the stack. "He didn't even ask. Maybe he just needed a break."
"Maybe so," Kagome said, looking over at the stack of boards the woodworker had already made. "He's certainly been busy."
"So we've got some time before we start moving things back in." He leaned his axe against the side of the house.
"Got anything in mind you want to do?" Picking up the red jacket he had slipped off to work, he put it back on.
Kagome shrugged. "Not really." She moved towards the front of the little house, then headed to a tree on the other side. The road and the front of the house were visible from it, but at the same time, the angle of it and the trees near it gave a feeling of isolation. "Maybe I just want to sit down and pretend the world away."
She sat down, and looked up at the light breaking through the tree branches. "Sometimes, it's really pleasant just to pretend."
InuYasha went to sit down next to her. "You need to pretend?" His ears lowered a little. "Are . . . Did I . . . Is something wrong?"
Kagome reached out and took his hand and gave it a squeeze. "There's nothing really wrong. It's just . . . today has been . . . "She took a deep breath.
He pulled her close. "Yeah. You kind of look like you used to when you had a test thing coming up, and we were too busy fighting youkai for you to study."
She laughed a little and snuggled into his hold. "Yeah. I guess it's been kind of like one of those days. At least I don't have to go to school and face one of those. Maybe it's knowing Kaede wanted me to do the wedding purification."
"You'll do fine." He rested his cheek on the top of her head. "You always do. And after everything that happened at Toshiro's today, nobody's going to say you do anything wrong when it comes to miko stuff."
"I guess you're right," she said, stretching out her legs. "I get silly about things sometimes."
He didn't answer that with words, but put a small kiss on the top of her head.
Neither spoke for a few moments. Kagome laced her fingers into his. "It's funny about weddings."
He lifted one knee and rested his free arm on it. "What's funny about them?"
"Oh," she said, turning enough to look at him. "How much they'll change over the years."
InuYasha nodded."You're right. They do. What people do now isn't what they did when I was young," he said.
"Yeah?" Kagome said, looking up at him, curious now. "It's a lot more involved where I come from."
"Nowadays, it's fancier than it used to be. When I was young, the man would come visiting the girl, and spend the night with her if she liked him. If he did it often enough, and the parents approved and knew this was what their daughter wanted, they'd bring a meal to show their approved. If the man accepted the food, and shared a cup with the woman, the parents would welcome him to the family and they were married. He moved into her house instead of her moving into his."
"He joined their family?" Kagome asked, "Instead of her joining his?"
The hanyou nodded.
"I knew men sometimes married into a woman's family when she had no brothers, but I didn't know it was normal." Kagome thought for a moment. "That's interesting. Rin told me how Sesshoumaru's mother has a crescent moon mark just like his. Is that a clan mark? Of her family?"
"Hells, I don't know. They didn't tell me anything growing up." He lifted his hand, staring at his claws. " My okaasan's people didn't approve of my old man. Sesshoumaru for sure never told me anything except I was a stain on the family honor."
"My okaasan's father tolerated it some, but it was toleration, not acceptance or approval. I was too young to know the details. But I do know they never came by to welcome him as a son-in-law. People would gossip about it."
"I'm sorry," Kagome said, resting a hand on his chest. "I didn't mean to bring up bad memories."
"Keh." He put his hand over hers. "It was a long time ago." His eyes got a far away look, and he paused a moment before going on. "I figure you have a right to know about stuff other people don't. Once my old man died, and then her old man died, that was the end of what toleration me and Haha-ue had." He shook his head and scowled."I was living proof that Haha-ue preferred to be concubine to a youkai than let some petty noble court her. Her brother hated me for it."
Sitting up straighter, he turned around and faced her "Feh. I outlived those bastards, no matter what they tried to do to me, and nobody but me still even remembers who they were or what they looked like. How's that for a legacy?"
Kagome had no answer for that, and merely raised her hand to his cheek. Leaning forward, she brushed her lips against his.
He returned her kiss, a quick peck, and then shook his head. "I really didn't mean to talk about that. Ancient history. So, how do they do weddings in your old world?"
The young miko smiled at his use of old. "Oh, it's very complicated," she said. "There are several ways to do it. You go to a shrine, sometimes, or to a room set up for it. The bride gets dressed up in very fancy clothes, either traditional clothes or in fancy western-style clothes. Usually, the bride wears white."
"White?" That surprised the hanyou. He put another piece of wood on the fire. "I thought that was a death color."
"Sometimes. Other times, it's the color of purity," Kagome said. "That's supposed to be good luck when starting things. And then they make promises before the kami to each other, and drink together. It's usually not out of the same cup any more, and if they aren't having a wedding at a shrine, they probably won't do that, but they'll still make promises."
"Promises?" InuYasha said. "Like what?"
"To be true to each other, to care for each other, and things like that." Kagome leaned against InuYasha's shoulder. "And then the fun starts. The wedding is just close family. Then they go to a big hall, and have a party. As big a party as they can afford. And during the party, the bride's supposed to go and change clothes. She's supposed to wear three different outfits. And there's a lot of people making speeches, and eating, and then as people drink too much sake, people start singing songs."
"Sounds like a lot of trouble," InuYasha said. "But knowing Daitaro, I bet there'll be too much sake tonight. And some bad singing."
"It's a lot of work." She looked up at him. "Way more work than Chime put it. There's a lot of people who make their living put together weddings because of that. But even so, it's hard work."
InuYasha shook his head. "Maybe things were smarter in my mother's day. I don't know if Chime would have made it through a wedding like you're talking about. Why do people do that?"
Kagome leaned more into his hold. "I guess they're just trying to make it clear it's a special day because it marks the start of their new life." She took his free hand and laced her fingers into his.
They sat there a moment, then InuYasha had a sudden, troubling thought. He let go of her hand, and slipped a finger under her chin so he could see her eyes. "Did...did we do wrong? I mean, I didn't even give you a chance to have a wedding dinner."
Kagome smiled up at her husband, ran her hand into his shining hair until she reached the base of his ear. "I seem to remember that it was me who didn't give you a chance, InuYasha." She gave him a light kiss on the lips. "That day and night will stay special in my memory forever. I mean, how many people can mark the beginning of their new life together by traveling 500 years?"
"You're sure?" His amber eyes searched hers deeply.
"Absolutely," she said. Her smile was brilliant, and her eyes were filled with love. "I wouldn't change it for the world."
Down in the village, Eiji and Haruo, still feeling rather pleased with their wedding gift to Shinjiro went back to the property where Eiji and his parents had their houses.
"I see you still have company," Haruo said. They stood for a moment at the fence that separated the property from the main street, and looked at the people gathered in the open space between the main house and the little house Eiji lived in. Emi was sitting next to Fujime, watching the children. "I can see why Chichi-ue decided to stay out in the bean fields instead of coming home for lunch. Maybe we should have stayed longer."
"We'd have missed Shinjiro," Eiji said, observing the gathering. "And I still have to make the rounds. It's still my ten day on guard duty."
Two small boys were playing off by themselves. Rin and Tazu had gathered some of the girls together and were telling them a story. Emi's oldest daughter was sitting with the women, sewing.
"Let's see. All of Susumu's kids are here, and Jun's boy, too," Haruo said, counting. "Maybe I ought to go get Teruko to help out Haha-ue."
"We'll see what Haha-ue says. And what's Susumu doing here?" Eiji asked, seeing the headman's son talking to Emi.
"Well, his wife is here," Haruo said. He pointed. "But I'm more interested in what Michio's doing here."
Kimi stood up, and walked up to the two men, her arms crossed, and frowning. Susumu said something, and Kimi shook her head.
"Something's going on," Eiji said. "It takes a lot to get Kimi-chan that unhappy, although these last few days . . . "
"They have been a little hectic," Haruo said, nodding. "But I thought today would go more smoothly. With Shinjiro's wedding and all, and this being an auspicious day."
"Would have, if Seiji hadn't decided to show his ass yesterday," Eiji said. He spit. "We have two main trouble making centers in this village - the women in Tsuneo's family and that man. There are times I don't know who causes the worst problems - Chiya or Seiji."
"That's an easy one. Seiji, if you ask me." Haruo leaned against the fence rail. "Chiya may act like a spoiled brat, but she doesn't pull the same crap. Her tool is gossip and getting the women all agitated at one another. She didn't get Masu's kids almost sold to a teahouse. Or get Masaki beaten up at the marketplace. Or chase his son down the road as he tried to beat him. She didn't try to burn down the house of her rival in love, either. "
Eiji nodded, rubbing the back of his neck, then spit again. "And these last few years, he's been getting worse."
"I guess we're going to find out soon," Haruo said, as they walked up.
Fujime was the first to spot them, and then Kimi and the other women. Kimi got up, putting her sewing down, and hurried towards her husband.
"Did you hear the news?" Kimi said. Her eyes were rather troubled.
"What news?" Eiji asked as she stopped next to him.
"Such strange news today. First about Haname, and then about Maeme." She rubbed her forehead. "Good and bad."
Haruo looked at his brother. "A double dose?"
Kimi looked at her brother-in-law, confused. "Don't worry, Kimi-chan," Eiji said. "I'll explain later. It was part of a bad joke." He brushed a stray wisp of hair off of her face. "Tell me what happened."
Michio walked up to join them, with Susumu in tow. "The good news is that Kagome-sama was able to totally heal Haname-okaasan. It was the most amazing thing."
"Kwannon is merciful," Eiji said. He gave Michio a nod of his head. "That is good news, and a reason to celebrate."
"But," Haruo said, crossing his arms, "I take it that is not the whole story today."
"No, it's not," Susumu said. His eyes were stern, not nearly as cheerful as usual. Like Haruo, he crossed his arms. "If it was, all we'd have to do is be dealing with someone's being dog piss at my place. A nuisance, but something that cleans up easily. Instead . . . "
"She . . . she threw herself in the river today." Kimi pulled on her husband's sleeve. "She did it on purpose!"
"Who did?" Eiji said. "Someone drowned?"
"Almost drowned," Susumu said. "InuYasha-sama and Houshi-sama managed to fish her out before she died."
Haruo scratched his head. "It wasn't an accident? You're sure?"
"That's what she told the monk," Susumu said.
"But why?" Eiji wrapped his arm around his wife who was clinging to him.
"Only one reason," Michio said.
"Seiji?" Eiji asked.
"I told you he was more trouble than Chiya," Haruo said. "I hate being right."