I do not own InuYasha or any of the characters created by Rumiko Takahashi

Chapter 265

Miroku stepped through the door of his house. "I'm home."

"I'm glad," Sango replied. She had her back to the door. "Dinner won't be long."

He leaned his staff against the wall near the entry door and slipped off his sandals before looking up. His home was amazingly calm. Sango near the fire pit, keeping an eye on the pot that held their dinner while folding the clothes she had washed earlier. Naoya, their son lay in his basket cradle, wiggling his fingers and staring at them like they were the most amazing things. In one corner, his daughters were playing with their collection of interesting rocks and their stick dolls. Kaede was nowhere to be seen.

"It smells good in here," he said as he stepped up on the wooden platform of the floor and walked over towards Sango. "I didn't realize I was hungry."

Sango, still not turning, chuckled.

"Otou," Yusuko said, looking up. Noriko dropped the rock she was stacking, and stood. They both moved towards the monk, but stopped. She turned her head and stared at her father, frowning.

"Otou," Noriko said, pointing. "What?"

"That," Miroku said, pulling the large bone boomerang off of his back, "belongs to your Okaasan."

Sango spun around, clutching an unfolded towel in her hand. "Hiraikotsu? You brought it down from the shrine? But why?"

A voice from the back room began a deep and mournful keening, followed with Kaede's soft voice saying soothing words. Miroku looked in that direction, a combination of sympathy, worry and resolution.

"Just say it was a hunch," the monk said. "Just in case."

Sango got up and walked over to her husband, and took the weapon, running her hand lovingly across the bone surface. "You don't think something will really happen, do you?"

"I...I don't expect it to," he said, relinquishing it to his wife. "Let's just say, with everything going on, I'd just rather be prepared."

Sighing, she nodded.

In a much less somber mood, the wedding procession, after picking up the headman and his family, made their way past Kaede's small house and on towards the hill where Daitaro's home lay.

Some of the villagers, not attending the wedding proper, had joined in the journey, to offer congratulations, to give the bride and her family small gifts of flowers or sweets for luck, and to admire the beautiful girl in her splendid robe walking the path that would lead her out of being just one of the girls of the village into becoming a wife.

Benika, who had never gone home, even after the headman had tried to send her home, and Kimi, who had slipped away with her daughter Tazu, on a break from the crowd at her mother-in-law's house for a little, trailing behind, began to serenade the procession:

"See the green pine needles,
two by two
they hang from the bough
like husband and wife,
even when dying
they fall from the tree,
couple by couple."

Jiro, one of the young boys who trailed behind them, made a rude noise.

"What's your problem, son?" Choujiro said. He also hadn't made it home yet.

"Love, love, love," Jiro said. "Bleh."

"Oh, I can tell he's still too young." Masu, walking with Choujiro and his daughter, laughed. "Just wait. In a year or two he'll be mooning over some girl or the other."

There was a ripple of laughter.

Masayo used that as a cue to pick up the song.

"See, now, see
we bring one half
he has the other.
Two by two
husband and wife
like pine needles
together."

"Do you still remember when your parents brought you to our house?" the headman asked his wife.

"I was so nervous," she said. "I knew I was going to trip and fall the moment we entered the compound."

"I knew I was going to say something stupid," he said. "All I could hear was my heart beating in my ears."

Hisa laughed. "You? You always find something to say. But what I remember is your smile. You looked like a cross between being happy and ready to run at the first chance."

"I probably felt that way," he said. "I was so afraid you would think badly of me. You were so beautiful, and me, well you know what I look like."

"I'm glad you didn't run," Hisa said. "It would have made me very sad."

He reached out and took her hand and gave it a little squeeze. "Me too."

Takeshi and his wife exchanged glances, overhearing the older couple, giving away the fact they had been thinking about their own wedding day.

"I remember - " Ushimi started to say when there was a noise from the back, and they turned to look.

Akemi, one of the boys who was a fan of InuYasha's fishing style, was twisting Jiro's arm, and the boy was yelping.

Susumu began to move toward them, but Tameo pulled his sleeve. "They're just being boys," he said. "Like you."

The village guard gave them a hard look which the boys totally ignored.

"All right, all right," Jiro said. "I'll do it."

Akemi, and another boy began clapping an interesting rhythm.

"Don't tell me," Susumu said. "Not that one."

Hisa laughed. "Doesn't someone always sing it?"

Jiro started it, and others joined in, either singing or clapping out the rhythm

"Will the bride's tears,
will the bride's tears
pour down
pour down
as she leaves her mother,
leaves her mother
to enter her husband's house?
Yayoi sa, o so wet,"

The boys started to making mocking crying noises behind him.

"She looks like a rather happy bride," Kimi said.

Benika nodded. "Just about as happy as you did on yours."

Tazu, walking next to her mother, nodded. "I hope I look that happy when I get married."

"Me too, child," Kimi said, patting her daughter on the back.

The song did not go unnoticed at the front of the procession.

"At least it's not the rabbit song," Tama, giggling a little, whispered to her sister. Erime who was already smiling, chuckled.

"Hey, Jiro," Masu said, pulling on the sleeve of the singer. "Shouldn't you be fishing or something?"

"We already did that," one of the weepers said. "He's just mad because his fish got away."

"Or because it's not his sister leaving home," another boy said.

Jiro gave his friend a small shove and went on with the next verse.

"Let her wipe her eyes
on her sleeve
on her sleeve
as she leaves her mother
leaves her mother
to enter her husband's house.
Yayoi sa, o so wet."

The boys wailed and mock-wept into their own sleeves.

"Maybe Akemi's father ought to apprentice him to the actors," Hisa noted, watching his antics.

"I hear that someone said that about Kinjiro-chan," Matsume said. Kinjiro snorted. She patted her husband's arm. "Maybe it's a good thing they didn't. He'd only be good for serious songs."

While Kinjiro rolled his eyes, his parents, and those around them snickered.

"What will her mother-in-law say
seeing such a wet sleeve,
such a wet sleeve
as she leaves her mother,
leaves her mother
to enter husband's house?
Yayoi sa, o so wet."

The song's tempo increased, and Jiro did the last verse in a mock woman's voice:

"Go do the laundry, bride,
and wash the clothes,
was the clothes,
for you have left your mother,
left your mother
to enter your husband's house.
Yayoi sa, o so wet."

One of the girls who had been walking with the group had a bucket. Benika walked over to her and whispered into her ear. The girl's face lit up and she nodded. Right as he finished the verse, she ran up behind him. With a small heave, she tossed some of her water onto the singing boy.

"Who's wet now?" she asked, watching him sputter.

A lot more laughter ran through the crowd.

"And I just got dry from going fishing!" Jiro said.

As the group started up the hill, most of the well-wishers took that as their cue to go. They were about to enter the fork in the road that would lead up to Daitaro's house when Takeshi stopped the procession.

"Wait a moment, daughter," he said, standing in front of the group.

"Is there something wrong?" Ushimi asked, joining her husband.

He looked at his wife and smiled. "No, I just wanted to look at my daughter one last time while she's my daughter and responsibility, and see how lovely she is. And to make sure she's ready to start her new life."

"I am," Erime said. Her eyes glistened. There was a little nervousness in them, but a lot of excitement and happiness. What he saw pleased him.

"Good, good." Takeshi looked over at his son. "You know the proper version of that song the boys were singing, don't you?"

"The one they sang when Sakami-chan walked up to our house?" the younger man asked.

"Ah," Sakami said. "I still remember how you watched when I came up. I was wondering if anybody could smile more."

"Oh, and you weren't?" Masayo said. "That and blushing. I didn't know cheeks could turn that pink."

Smiling, she gave him a playful nudge.

He turned back to his father. "I know it enough," he said, and began beating a rhythm on his drum. "If I miss a few words, well, I'll think of something."

"I'm sure you will," Tama said, a bit cheekily. "You're good at that."

As he laughed, the line began moving again, and as they spotted Daitaro's house, and the group of people outside waiting, he began to sing.

"Is the bride happy
leaving the house of her mother
to live in the home of another,
does she wet her sleeve
with hidden tears,
her eyes bright with excitement?"

Seeing Shinjiro, Erime dropped her eyes a little, and did indeed begin to blush.

"Love, love,
how fast her heart beats."

"Huh,"whispered Tama. "I don't remember those words."

"Hush," Erime replied.

"They say love beats in the heart
like a dragon,
a dragon that causes
the blood to boil
with a wonderful heat.
Look how she blushes
the happy bride."

"It's true," Erime said, her voice too soft to really be heard.

"And what will the groom say
when he sees her coming,
walking with her mother
walking with her father
will he open his hand
and sit her beside him?
Let the other men be jealous,
for her eyes are only for him."

Chime and Daitaro moved towards the procession, leaving Shinjiro standing in front of the doorway, Genjo and Mariko to the right of it, InuYasha and Kagome to the left.

Just before the wedding procession reached them, Takeshi held up his hand and the group stopped.

"Come, daughter," he said.

She looked up at him, his own eyes filled with happiness, and a wistful something and she swallowed, then gave a quick nod. She took a step forward, flanked on each side by one of her parents.

The two groups of parents bowed their greeting.

"So," Daitaro said, jovially, smiling at his new daughter-in-law. "We didn't scare you off, did we?"

Erime laughed a little, covering her mouth with her sleeve and shook her head.

"I give you my daughter," Takeshi said. "Take good care of her, old man. That son of yours . . . well, she evidently thinks a lot of him."

"I do believe you're right," the old farmer said. "And he does for her as well. He has good taste."

"Welcome to your new home, daughter," Chime said. "We're so glad you're here."

Erime bowed "Thank you, Chime-okaasan, Daitaro-otousan." Her voice trembled only a little bit. Daitaro took her by the hand and led her to where Shinjiro, his face hard to read, but his look intense, stood.

"Takeshi has given us their daughter, son. Now she is yours to cherish." The old man put the girl's hand in the young man's. "Take good care of her."

"I will," Shinjiro said. His voice was firm, but his eyes glimmered.

Erime, not quite able to hold his gaze but smiling brightly, looked down as she moved next to her man.

"Well, everybody," Daitaro said. "Don't just stand out here. Let's go inside!"

A/N - I'm not sure but there is a chance that the next chapter may be late. I wanted to give everybody a head's up. On the road!