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

Chapter 75

Hisa beamed at the young couple, beckoning them to come inside. Kagome looked at Hisa and then at InuYasha, chewing her bottom lip, but made no move toward the house. Sango, as if sensing her friend's reluctance, stepped out from behind the older woman.

"Did everything go all right?" Sango asked the hanyou. "Is Miroku on his way back?"

"Yeah, everything went fine." InuYasha said, nodding. "We got there, took care of the youkai, and left. We were already on the road when Shippou found us. Miroku's coming back with Hiseo and Yume's old man. It's safe for them to go back home now. I'd expect Miroku and Masuo back in another hour or two."

"That's good news, cousin," Susumu said. "Seems like we all had a busy day. But you know, a long day that ends well is still a good day."

"I guess," InuYasha said.

"Ah," Hisa said. "I guess we should get the guest house ready then. And let Rika-chan know there are going to be more for dinner. It's certainly going to be too late for that man to leave tonight, especially not with two children."

"Speaking of it getting late, maybe I should go home now," Sango said. "I'm sure Chime-sama is getting tired of chasing my daughters. And I need to think about dinner as well."

"Are you sure, Sango-chan?" Hisa asked. "If Chime-chan is getting tired, Erime-chan is there to help out."

Sango nodded. "It's about time to feed my son. I really ought to be going. He gets fussy when he's hungry, as will his father if he comes home and there's no dinner."

Hisa gave her a knowing nod. "Oh, yes. We know about that here, don't we, Emi?" she said to her daughter-in-law, who had come up to stand next to her. "Do you mind getting started on the guest house?" she asked Emi, who nodded and moved off. Turning back to Sango, she added, "It was nice having you here today. Please don't forget what I told you about coming back."

"In two days?" Sango asked.

"Yes, yes," Hisa said. And looking at Kagome, "And bring our cousin and your little ones, too. After lunch. We'll have tea, sewing, and a lot of talk."

Sango smiled, and began to move off, but Kagome caught her sleeve, which made her stop.

"Kagome?" she asked.

"Maybe . . . maybe we should go now, too, Hisa-obasan," Kagome asked. She looked up at her husband, who looked at her and gave her a small nod. "If you don't mind. You've been so kind today, but . . . "

"Are you sure?" Hisa asked. "I just thought it might be a nice time for InuYasha to learn about what's been going on."

"It can wait if you need to go home," InuYasha said, looking at Kagome. He took her hand, then turned to Tameo. "The guy that grabbed her, you took care of him, right? He didn't just run off, did he? Kagome said everything was fine now."

"Oh, he's definitely taken care of," Tameo said. "There's no chance he's going to be able to try something else." He tugged on his chin, giving the young miko a good look.

Daitaro nodded. "I'd say he got what he deserved. More than most folks."

Susumu snorted. Kinjiro, frowning, elbowed him. InuYasha looked at the brothers, questioningly, and his ear flicked once, but he didn't say anything.

"Kagome-chan, go home with your husband. This has been a hard day," Tameo decided. "There are some things we need to discuss, but they'll wait until tomorrow, when the village leaders meet about Aki and Isao."

Daitaro nodded. "If our party's breaking up, I'll be heading back with them, then." He lifted up his sake flask, shook it, and turned it upside down. One small drip came out of his bottle. "I'm out of sake' and I should walk Chime home."

"I guess that settles that," Hisa said. "Susumu, go bring your children home. It's time to give Matsume her home back."

"Finally," Kinjiro said, and headed towards his house to hurry the process.

"What a day," Daitaro said, as they headed through the gates of Tameo's compound and onto the street.

"It's been . . . different," Sango said.

"Seems like I missed a lot," InuYasha said. He was walking next to Kagome. Taking advantage of the long sleeves of their clothing, he slipped his hand around hers, letting the cloth hide it, and gave hers a little squeeze, She looked up at him and gave him a tiny smile.

"Yeah," Kagome said. Her voice was thoughtful and a little sad "You did. But it's probably better this way."

"Feh," he replied, unconvinced.

Kagome took a deep breath and let it out slowly. InuYasha stopped and looked at Kagome. She was tired, but there was more, something he would need to find out more of when they were alone. He gave her hand another squeeze, and this time she returned it.

Daitaro looked at the two of them, and reached for his sake jug before remembering it was empty and dropping it back into place. "Eh, at least those brats won't be sneaking around our side of the village causing mischief anymore," he said. "I was getting tired of cleaning up after their messes."

"They came back already, after spoiling your sake' and you almost getting them?" InuYasha asked. "How'd you catch them?"

"By accident," Daitaro said. "Or maybe the kami was smiling on us. Stupid kids let one of my cows out of the pasture, and she tossed Isao-kun, and chased Joben's Aki. Stupid boy ran straight into Kinjiro while trying to get away." He grinned at the hanyou. "Although, by that time, he forgot my cow was after him. He was rather busy trying to get away from me."

InuYasha snorted. "Well, maybe that explains why I smelled so many people up the hill by Sango's house."

"There were quite a few of them," Sango said, nodding. "Whoever thought two boys doing a prank could cause so much activity?"

"Well, considering who their relatives are, it's not so surprising. Especially who Aki-kun's grandmother is." He scratched the back of his head, then grinned. "You should have seen the stink when Susumu got in trouble as a brat about the same age."

"One day," Sango said, "someone's going to have to tell us the story about that."

"We'll have to do it someday when we've got him penned down in the same room," Daitaro replied. "He turns an interesting shade of red when people bring it up."

Sango giggled, and InuYasha snorted.

As the four began their walk home, Kaede attended to the pots sitting in her fire pit - a small medicine pot, and another, larger stew pot. She lifted the lid off the stew pot. A fragrant steam rose from it, smelling of onion and fish and ginger.

"Rin, could you hand me the salt box?" the miko asked.

Rin, who was sitting in the corner, working on her sewing, looked up and nodded. Getting the salt box off a shelf, she handed it to Kaede. "What are you making? Rin thinks it smells very good."

"It does, doesn't it?" Kaede said. "It's something for Kagome-chan. I suspect she's going to be too tired to do much at home tonight."

At Kagome's name, Chiya, sitting next to her mother, looked up "You're really training her to be a miko?"

"She already is a miko," Kaede corrected. "I'm just giving her training in how to be a better one." She added some salt to the pot, and gave it back to Rin.

"I still don't understand how she can do that and live with that . . . person." Chiya shook her head.

"It's her destiny," Kaede replied. "And the kami have blessed it."

"I heard what the kami said today," the younger woman said. "I just don't understand why. " Haname groaned in her sleep. Chiya looked down at the troubled woman, and gently stroked her mother's hand. "How . . . how long will Okaasan be like this?"

"The sleeping potion I gave her will help her sleep several hours," Kaede said, recovering the pot.

"Poor Okaasan," Akina, Joben's wife, said, adjusting the coverlet over her mother-in-law. "Was what happened today all caused by that amulet you found around her neck?"

"It had some very strong magic," Kaede said. "But until your mother-in-law wakes up, we won't really know. Or if there are any side effects. Strong magic sometimes harms the people whom it touches."

"Was that yamabushi really that strong?" Chiya asked. "I thought he was just another charlatan that my brother had taken in. If I had known he was going to hurt my family like this . . . Okaasan and Isao-kun and Aki-kun. I hope you were right letting Isao-kun go home."

"He had some reiki," Kaede said. She stood up, and with a cloth, picked the pot up off the heat. "But not enough to make a charm like that one. I suspect we'll never learn exactly where he got it now. He must have known some people with real power along the way." She wrapped the cloth more securely around the handle. "Not that it matters. The amulet won't hurt anybody anymore. It's sealed away. And Isao, he'll have a headache for a time, but he's a strong boy. He'll be all right."

Picking up the stew pot, she headed for the door. "I'll be back shortly."

Kaede opened the door mat just as InuYasha and Kagome, followed by Sango and Daitaro were nearing her house. She could hear Kagome say, "Maybe I should stop by and check on Kaede."

Stepping out of the doorway, Kaede looked at her young apprentice, studying her carefully with her one good eye. Not liking what she saw there, she frowned briefly, and then smiled. "Maybe I should check on Kagome-chan." She looked at InuYasha next. "I see you found her, InuYasha."

The hanyou nodded.

"How is Haname?" Kagome asked. "And what about Isao?"

"Sleeping. I gave Isao some medicine for his headache and sent him home. There's really not much to do, actually. I found the amulet that was affecting her. With it gone and some sleep, I think she'll be better, but we won't know until she wakes up."

"But shouldn't I - " Kagome started.

The old miko shook her head. "No, child. You need to go home. There's really nothing for you to do here. I made you this," she said, lifting the stew pot. InuYasha took it from her hand.

"What is it?" InuYasha asked. "It smells good."

"Dinner. Now go home. If I need you, I'll send for you." And before Kagome could say anything else, she turned and went back into the house.

"That . . . that was a surprise," Kagome said.

"A good one," Sango said.

"My cousin is a good cook," Daitaro said, "and suddenly, I'm hungry. Let's get going so I can collect my wife and get my own dinner."

With a nod, Kagome let herself be lead away.

Not much later, Kagome and InuYasha stepped into their own house.

"I was afraid it was going to look worse," she said as she moved over to the clothing cabinet. She pulled open a drawer, and pulled out a set of her own clothing.

"Cow didn't do too much," InuYasha agreed as he put Kaede's pot next to the fire pit. "Although, I'm not sure Kinjiro's going to agree. Looks like she walked all over the garden."

Kagome turned around and gave InuYasha a little smile, then folded her arms like the headman's son liked to do. "I can hear him now. 'Stupid animal just doesn't understand how much I have to do. Dropping cow pies in my garden like that. Just get out of my way and let me work.'"

"Keh." He knelt down next to the fire pit and grinned at her. "I think you're right." Taking the fire tong, he stirred the ashes looking for hot coals.

"When do you think Miroku will get back?" she said, unfastening the obi to the robe Hisa had lent her.

"Another hour or so," he said, watching her unrobe in quick glances between breaking up a small piece of wood for kindling. "I was surprised. The villagers loaded us down with rice and cloth for doing the extermination. Wasn't expecting anything."

He bent over the coals and blew on them, then started feeding them small bits of wood.

Kagome slid the kosode off her shoulders, then shook it out. "So how is he getting it all here?" Carefully, she began to fold the garment.

"Hiseo's dad, he's pulling a hand cart. Said he wanted to do that so he could put his daughter on it for the ride back." He reached for some larger wood.

"That's handy, I guess," Kagome said. She slipped out of Hisa's under kosode and shrugged her own on.

"Yeah," InuYasha said. He set the tripod near where the small fire was burning and added some more wood.

Kagome slipped back into her own clothes, the beige kosode, and walked over to her place by the fire pit. Kneeling down, she put the stew pot near the little fire, enough to stay warm without coming to a hard boil.

InuYasha walked over to the water bucket. "Looks like I need to go get some more water," and with his back to her, picked up the dipper. He took a drink. "So, you want to tell me about your day?"

Kagome sighed deeply.

"You're sure you're all right?" InuYasha asked, then dropping the dipper, turned around.

She was sitting there, kneeling, hands limp in her lap. "Tired," she said. "It's been . . . an exhausting day."

His right ear flicking, he walked back over to her, and squatted down next to her, putting a finger under her chin. "Kagome?"

She looked up at him, her eyes glistening in the late afternoon night. Without warning, she threw herself at him, wrapping her arms around him, burying her face in his shoulder. "It was such an awful day! I'm so glad you're home."