1I do not own InuYasha or any of the characters created by Rumiko Takahashi

Chapter 5

He woke up as the first morning light filtered into the room.

It didn't happen all at once. InuYasha's ears twitched first, taking the sounds in around him, and then his nose woke up. Something in the air was different. Not bad at all – in fact very good – but he knew it was not what he expected to scent. He felt warm and comfortable and surprisingly content. Memories of the night before suddenly flooded into his mind as he grew alert. He opened his eyes to see a pale shoulder with black hair cascading around it, and he realized he was spooning a warm body close to him, his hand wrapped protectively across her middle.

"She's really here," he whispered, a touch of amazement in his voice. "She came back to me. And we . . . "

For a long time he just lay there, breathing in the sweet scent of the woman in his arms, a scent now blended together with the fragrance of their union, as he watched the light grow brighter as the morning deepened. A smile touched his lips as he admired how their hair, silver and black, fell intertwined together across the bedding. He could feel the heat pooling in his middle as images from the night before crossed his mind, and he found himself moving his hand across the softness of her tummy, and up to the swell of her breast, enjoying the satin of her skin and the delight of how it felt to be able to hold her like that. She stirred a little, and he nuzzled the crook of her neck, and planted little kisses on the top of her shoulder. In response, she snuggled closer.

InuYasha kissed the lobe of her ear, and Kagome rolled onto her back, still mostly asleep, eyes fully closed. He studied how the light touched the planes of her face, the line of her eyebrow, the shape of her lips, the relaxed contentment she radiated. He planted a light kiss on her forehead. It was enough to just lie there, enjoying how everything that mattered in his life had changed since yesterday morning. Then suddenly, he sighed deeply, having realized something, and propped himself up on one elbow. "Kagome," he said softly.

"Mm . . . InuYasha, " she said, too groggily to be really awake, but it was a content sound.

"Good morning, Koibito." He pulled back the hair covering her ear and neck, touched his tongue to the shell of her ear. She jerked a little at the sensation.

Trying to pull away and move her ear out of his reach, she grumbled and wrinkled her nose. "Tickles."

"You need to wake up, Kagome. They're going to come looking for us soon if we don't show up somewhere. We have to get to Kaede's or Miroku's."

She rolled over onto her stomach. "Don't want to."

InuYasha pulled back the blanket and gave the tops of her shoulder little kisses. "Oi, woman - did you forget what a tease and hentai Miroku is? Just cause he's married hasn't changed his sense of humor any. You want him to find you in bed like this?"

Kagome grabbed the blanket back, but sat up, holding the cloth around her. Looking at InuYasha with sleepy eyes, she smiled a crooked grin at him. "He'd tease us all day, and maybe all week."

"You know it," InuYasha said, returning her smile. "Maybe for a month."

She reached out, and touched him gently on the cheek. Her smile got very large. "Good morning, InuYasha. What a good thing to wake up to find that I'm really here. That you're really here." She leaned over and kissed him lightly on the lips, then pulled away, bringing the covers up almost to her chin. "It's cold in here."

InuYasha sat all the way up and reached over her for his fundoshi that sat on the stack of clothes they made the previous night. "A little cool, but I doubt we'll be back for a while, so I didn't want to start a fire. Hurry up and get dressed. There's nothing for breakfast in this house."

Staying wrapped up in the quilt, she reached over to the pile of clothes and fished hers out of the stack. InuYasha stood up to get dressed. Kagome turned away at first, blushing at seeing the sunlight touch his lean, golden body, but she sneaked glances at him as he wrapped himself in his undergarment then walked around the futon to pick up the rest of his clothes. He moved with an easy grace on muscled runner's legs. Not for the first time, she wished he didn't hide them in the baggy red hakama that made them so hard to appreciate.

Smiling at her silliness, she stood up and let the blanket drop as he was fastening the ties of his hakama. It amused her to see InuYasha's eyes grow big and his cheeks color as well. Then she turned her back, slipped into her under things, and put on her skirt.

"If we hurry," he said, shrugging into his suikan, "maybe we can get breakfast at Kaede's before she starts her morning work."

"Kaede? I'm sure she'll feed us, but why go there? Why not go to Sango's? She's closer." Kagome picked up her blouse and pulled it over her head, and then began dragging her fingers through her hair, trying to give it some semblance of order.

InuYasha gave her a sheepish grin."I don't know if I'm ready to deal with Miroku," he said, tying his obi. "Hells, I'm not sure if I'm ready to deal with Kaede, but at least she's not a tease."

Kagome's eyes grew wide for a moment, then her eyebrows knit together as she frowned. "You're . . . you're not ashamed of us, are you?"

InuYasha sighed, stepped to where Kagome stood biting on her lower lip, and wrapped his arms around her. "Never. Never. Don't ever think that." He kissed the top of her head, and then tenderly on the lips. "Remember what I told you last night? About how it's never easy when a human takes a youkai partner? It won't be any easier because I'm a hanyou." His face was very serious, and his ear was twitching, always signs he was stressed and wasn't sure what to do next.

"You're afraid Kaede will disapprove?" she said. Her eyes studied his face. "I can't believe that."

"No," he said, shaking his head. "I don't think so. But I'm not so sure what will happen when the news gets out."

He let her go and bent down to pick up his sword. As he tucked it into his obi, she rested a hand on his arm. "Whatever happens, we can deal with it, InuYasha."

"Keh." He walked over to the entry way, and picked up Kagome's sweater and handed it to her. Although his eyes were still solemn, he smiled for her. "If we're lucky, she'll have some soup left. That is, if Shippou didn't show up and eat it all."

She laughed, and put on her shoes and together, they left the house.

Very few villagers were out along the street by the old miko's house when Kagome and InuYasha walked up, only a few children who gave them a curious glance, but then returned to their games. The bamboo mat door at Kaede's house lifted up right before they reached it, and the old miko stepped out, looking at the young couple with an amused grin.

"Well, children, come in. I've been expecting you," Kaede said. "Although I must say, I really was expecting to see you last night. But I'm not totally surprised I didn't."

Kagome blushed, and for a moment, was fascinated by the toe of her shoe, then decided she was being childish and smiled at the older woman. "I'm sorry, Obaachan. We had a change of plans. I hope we didn't cause you any trouble."

InuYasha squared his shoulders and shoved his hands into his sleeves. Glancing up at him, Kagome thought he looked almost as wound up as he did when he went into battle.

"No, no, child. It's all right. Come inside. I suspect you two are hungry. I've got soup on the fire." She turned, still smiling, and went back in.

"It's going to be all right, InuYasha," Kagome said, very quietly. "And you're going to get your soup."

"Feh," he said, and held the door open for Kagome.

She stepped into the entryway of the house that had so many memories for her, and slipped off her shoes. The air smelled of smoke and herbs, miso soup and rice. The walls were lined, just like she remembered, with chests and jugs, storage jars and all the things of the everyday life of a village miko and healer. Kaede had already taken her place by the fire pit, and was ladling soup out into bowls for the two of them.

InuYasha sat down next to the older woman, and motioned for Kagome to sit next to him, as if he needed to shield her from Kaede with his body. With a small nod, she settled down where he asked.

Kaede handed a bowl of soup to the hanyou, and raised an eyebrow when he in turn handed it to Kagome. After handing him another, she passed them bowls of rice.

"Where's Rin?" the younger woman asked.

"Ah, I sent her to keep Sango company while Miroku does his business with Chiya-sama," Kaede said. "Sometimes, taking care of the twins and Naoya is more than one person can do."

"Or sometimes, there are things you don't want her to hear," InuYasha said, sipping his soup.

"Blunt as ever, InuYasha. Yes, or that. Especially when it's time to talk to a nervous hanyou who's afraid I'll tell him something he doesn't want to hear." She looked at him steady with her one eye, but there was a small smile she didn't quite hide.

He stared into his bowl, then took another sip. "You knew we were coming here?"

"I suspected as much." Instead of eating, Kaede sipped a cup of tea. "I knew you would either show up here, or at Miroku's. Somehow, I'm of the feeling you'd rather see me than him."

"Keh," he said, then drank his soup down.

Kagome hid her smile, then sipped from her bowl. It tasted of miso and fish and kombu and something extra she knew Kaede put in her soup. She wasn't quite sure what it was; it added a rich taste that made it different from the soup her mother made. Sipping it flooded her with memories of the last time she sat here, drinking soup in the morning. That was right before the final battle with Naraku. Miroku and Rin were laying in their sickbeds. She looked up and caught the old miko's eye. "So much has happened since the last time we did this."

"Indeed it has, Kagome-chan," the older miko said, nodding. "I must say that I was surprised to see that the magic let you come back. I was afraid your time here was done."

"So was I," Kagome replied. "I don't think it will let me go back anymore, though. The well must have decided I belong in this world instead of the other."

"I suppose," Kaede said, chuckling, "that the kami who controls the well knew you had something more important in this world than that."

"I do," Kagome replied. She looked at InuYasha.

He met her eyes and stopped eating. A soft smile touched his face. They stayed like that for a long moment, before breaking their gaze and suddenly returning to their breakfast, which they quickly finished.

After the last bite was eaten, Kaede put down her teacup. "InuYasha, Kagome, we must talk." She filled tea cups for Kagome and InuYasha and passed them down. Kagome, returning the favor, refilled Kaede's cup.

Suddenly, all the tension InuYasha carried coming to the miko's house returned, and he stiffened, but taking a deep breath, he took Kagome's hand and rested his on top of hers. "Kagome is under my protection, Kaede-babaa. I have taken her for my wife."

The old miko gave him a reassuring smile. "Good, good. I had no doubt that was going to happen, InuYasha. If not last night, I knew it would only be a matter of a few days to come. If the kami are kind enough to let her return to you after all your devotion to her, who am I to say anything against such a match?"

InuYasha visibly relaxed at the miko's words, and Kagome gave his hand a little squeeze.

Kaede poked at the fire in the pit while she thought about what she needed to say next. "Most of the villagers are now comfortable with you being here, InuYasha. They approve how you avenged my sister, now that they know the truth of what happened. They've seen what you've done since, and how you work to keep the village safe. They will not forget how you fought against the bandits last year."

"Bandits?" Kagome asked.

"I'll tell you later," he said.

"Still," Kaede said, "There are always some who may try to make trouble, especially with you taking a bride, and which bride it is. Don't think you don't have friends, though. My cousin Tameo, the headman, is pleased to have you staying here, and his family is the largest one and has the most influence on what happens in this village." She sipped her tea. "Still, not everyone is so inclined. There's Tsuneo's family. Tsuneo's wife, Haname, lost her father to a youkai attack many years ago and has a strong hatred of them. All of them. She uses the damage that Naraku did to the village as a reason why she thinks the village elders should chase you away." She sipped her tea once again. "She is a bitter, unhappy woman. And her daughter Chiya isn't much better."

"Chiya?" Kagome asked, surprised. "She was always nice to me. Isn't that who Miroku was going to talk with today?"

"Keh." InuYasha said, frowning a little. "She's nice to you cause of Kikyou. She's nice to Miroku cause she's trying to go to Amida's heaven when she dies. But you haven't seen the looks she's given me when you weren't around."

"I didn't know," she said, touching his arm. "I'm sorry."

"Not your fault." He shrugged, then covered her hand with his. "Chiya's brother Joben's no better. I've heard what he says when he thinks I can't hear him."

Kaede nodded. "If there's trouble, it will come from that quarter, I believe." She finished her tea. "I will talk to my cousin today and tell him the news. He, as well as I, expected this turn of events. We will figure out what to do." She stood up. "InuYasha, come here and help me with this."

Curious about what the miko wanted, he nodded and stood. Together they walked to the back corner of the room. Kaede stopped by a wooden tub covered with a bright piece of cloth. "Take this to your house."

InuYasha picked it up. "What is it?"

"Useful things," she answered. "Congratulations, you two. Now go home. Stay out of the village for the next day or two. I'll come see you after I talk to Tameo-sama."

They headed for the door, and Kagome held open the door mat while InuYasha walked through it.

"I am glad you are back, Kagome-chan," Kaede said before the younger woman stepped out. "I still remember the first time both of you sat down around my fire. That day, I never would have expected this day." She smiled. "He's changed so much since then."

"He has, hasn't he?" Kagome smiled. "I'm glad I'm back, too. I missed all of you so much."

"But especially him."

Kagome nodded. "But especially him."

"Go be with your husband, girl. It will all work out. If the kami brought you back, it's meant to be." Kaede took the door mat from Kagome's hand.

"Yes it is. Thank you." Giving Kaede a beautific smile, she bowed to the older woman, and went out to join InuYasha.