Title: Christmas Tree
Author: sarhea
Fandom: InuYasha
Categories: Canon, AR, gen, het, friendship, romance, drama
Characters/Pairing: Kagome/Sesshoumaru
Rated: PG13
AN: The final battle has been fought, the Shikon restored but along the way Kagome has fallen out of love with InuYasha. Kikyo has been wished back and the Shikon has vanished back inside Kagome, but with her new skills/training she can hide it from everyone, but youkai still seek the 'Shikon Miko' hoping to get it from her. She is still travels back and forth between the future and the past, unable to let go of both her families.
Summary: It's Christmas time and Kagome decides to bring a modern tradition into Feudal Era Japan.
Warnings: episode/series ending spoilers.
For: LJ CommunityDokuga-Contest Winter Wonderland Challenge

Happy Holidays everyone... all the best to you and your families in the new year. Hope you enjoy the fic.


Summary: Kagome decides to make some choices for herself.

AN: AU just before the end of the series.

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~ooO The First Christmas Tree Ooo~

Kagome tried to ignore the falling snow as she made her way back home, to the shrine, to the Bone Eaters Well, to the past. Somewhere along the way the past was home now, not twentieth-century Japan with all its modern conveniences and pollution. She belonged in the Feudal Era. She was done pretending otherwise. She had obligations and ties to the past and she wasn't going to let anything or anyone stop her: a sulky selfish inu-hanyou, a once clay-golem pre-carnate, any evil sadistic or crazy Shikon seeking youkai.

She had managed to graduate from high school, but not with good enough marks to qualify for a good college or university. She had given up on post-secondary education and a full-time job in the future. Instead she had opted for correspondence courses in naturopathy and other skills she could use in the Feudal Era. Her job as a part-time shrine maiden for the family shrine just covered the costs of her trips in to the past.

Kagome slowed down and turned right into a side lane leading to a square lined with stands and quaint shops dealing in one-of-a-kind craftsman pieces and old antiques. Usually Kagome loved browsing through the stands here but in recent months she hadn't had the time, money, or inclination. She didn't have the time or money today either but she felt self-indulgent enough to slow down and 'window-shop' as it were.

Then she stopped in front of a stall displaying hand crafted Christmas tree ornaments. Jii-jii did not disapprove of gift sharing but he did make a fuss about setting up a tree and decorating the shrine. A slow smile curved full lips as she realized there was no reason why she couldn't have a tree and associated Christmas paraphernalia in the past. Her face fell when she realized she couldn't; the cost would be prohibitive. Her chin lifted in stubborn insistence. Perhaps she could not afford a big tree but perhaps she could buy six to ten for a small tree? And make more decorations by hand?

Even as her mind worked - planning what she would need to do and buy, to celebrate Christmas in the Feudal Era - she went through the ornaments choosing ones that caught her eye, for one reason or another.

A pair of linked gilt rings that mimicked eternal wedding bands for Miroku and Sango.

A colourful top for Shippo.

A clear globe filled with plastic flowers for Rin.

A miniature ramen bowl with chopsticks for InuYasha.

A blue crescent moon dotted with silver paint for Sesshoumaru-sama.

A silver star glistening with sparkles for herself.

She needed to make a detour and pick up some craft and stationary supplies before going back to the Feudal Era.

~ooOoo~ooOoo~ooOoo~

Sango sighed as she turned the game birds roasting on skewers suspended over the hut's small fire.

"Why so down Sango-sama?" An irritating and much loved male asked softly.

The tajija turned to Miroku. "Just missing Kagome-chan," she confessed.

"Are you sure it isn't the weather?" Miroku asked teasingly, but still concerned. "Kagome-sama has returned to her time before. And it didn't affect you so strongly."

Sango poked the fire with a stick, stirring up the flames. "It might be the cold," she confessed. "I don't like winter. It's too easy to get sick and weak."

Both of them started at the sharp knocking on the wooden wall of the hut.

"I'm back!" A familiar voice sang out.

Sango grinned broadly. "Kagome!"

And with that the tajija knew everything would be just fine.

~ooOoo~ooOoo~ooOoo~

Sesshoumaru frowned as he re-examined what had so thrilled his ward. A tiny evergreen, no taller than his knee in humanoid form, rooted in a clay pot set in the middle of the elderly miko's hut. Sesshoumaru originally had no plans to even enter the ningen village. Rin had asked to stay with his brother's miko and Sesshoumaru had no concerns with the request. She had stayed in the village away from him before. But this time she had conspired to make him stay as well.

Sesshoumaru had considered himself immune to feminine wiles but the sight of Rin's teary woebegone look had him agreeing to stay without thinking. Now that he was present, in a small stifling hut filled with too many strong sharp scents the daiyoukai was less than thrilled with his situation. But he was still curious to know why the kitsune and his ward were so excited by a tree.

"Miko, why do you have a tree in a pot?"

She stared at him before laughing. "Oh, I forgot you weren't here for the explanation."

His head cocked. "Explanation?"

"I'll tell you after. But first the tree needs to be decorated." She knelt beside her yellow bag and removed a box made of stiffened paper. From it she produced various trinkets and passed them to specific individuals.

Sesshoumaru stared at the trinket in his hand. A crescent moon shaped from an oddly light material painted blue and silver. There was a small loop on the top with silver thread strung through it and knotted to form a loop. He watched quietly as his half-brother's packmates and Rin pick up white paper chains and knotted red threads and draped them around the tree. Then each one hung their trinket on the end of a branch by the knotted thread loop. Feeling a little confused he mimicked their actions with his own 'moon'. And then he watched the younger miko hand Rin an odd doll crafted from stiff yellow and white paper, with a long cone-like skirt and appendages resembling wings. A youkai?

Rin stood on tiptoes to put the paper youkai-doll on the very top of the tree. Then she stepped back to stand next to the kitsune and sigh and stare at the now decorated tree with awe. After some time both children squealed and latched onto the miko begging for a story, a song, anything! The miko laughed and complied, kneeling down next to the fire to spin her tale, a dream world where toys came to life, of nutcracker princes and sugarplum fairies, where an unafraid Clara intervenes to do what is right.

More confused than ever he contented himself with watching and listening, trying to understand what was happening, the purpose, the reason for such activities.

~ooOoo~ooOoo~ooOoo~

He didn't get an explanation until the children, exhausted from their frolicking, settled down on convenient blankets and fell asleep. The glowing, still cheery, miko picked up a jug of sake, two dishes, and stepped out of the hut. A warning look directed at the hanyou kept the cur from following the miko and Sesshoumaru outside, into the meadow between the village and the forest.

She was humming something, singing softly in an unfamiliar tongue.

"What are you singing miko?"

She started. "Oh! Sorry Sesshoumaru-sama."

The daiyoukai waited and was irked when the answer was not forthcoming.

"You did not answer my question miko, what are you singing? I do not recognize the language."

She smiled gently at him. "I would be surprised if you had. It is a foreign tongue from a land far beyond the continent and Qin; an island nation called England, on the other side of the great land mass."

"And the song?" Sesshoumaru was not certain of why he wanted to know.

"It's a love song called 'Last Christmas' written a singer called George Michael," she explained. Seeing his demanding expression she provided a rough translation in Japanese.

Upon hearing it understanding dawned in bright gold eyes.

Now I know what a fool I've been

But if you kissed me now

I know you'd fool me again

My god I thought you were

Someone to rely on

Me?

I guess I was a shoulder to cry on

"The song describes your feeling for the hanyou," he surmised accurately.

She nodded and did not say anything else. They stood under the light of the full moon in silence for a while. He glanced at her and asked her about something that was niggling him.

Now I've found a real love you'll never fool me again

...

Maybe next year I'll give it to someone

I'll give it to someone special.

"The last part of the song..."

"Yes?"

"It insinuates the singer is ready to let go and look for a more dependable mate."

"Yes."

"Are you?"

Kagome smiled and nodded. "Yes."

Sesshoumaru looked dubious. "Humans are very emotional. You invested a great deal in the hanyou."

She met his eyes with a calm knowing look. "And humans know how to let go and not hold grudges. Envy and hate are corrosive emotions. They harm the one experiencing those feelings the most. Me? I prefer to be constructive and try to build a future for myself than destroy someone else's, because I disagree with their choices."

He stared at her uncertain if he believed her or he Wanted to believe her. Deciding he needed time - to absorb what he had been just told - he turned away and instead stared up at the moon.

The miko was quiet for a while before she broke the silence between them. "We originally came out here to talk about Christmas. Is now a good time? Or would you prefer I leave you alone tonight?"

He turned towards his head and shook his head. "Now is acceptable."

She nodded and began speaking, explaining to him the basics of Christianity and what Christmas meant religiously and culturally.

It was odd, her knack for turning his worldview upside down. She made rigid absolute truths as fluid as water, turning reality into a wonderland that followed rules he had no idea existed. In the past he would have -and he had- fought any and all changes to his reality. But now paradigm shifts were simply accepted and carefully examined before being integrated into his new worldview. His old inflexible qualities had been a weakness. Now that he was willing to change and grow, he had become stronger. He gained Bakusaiga because he had willingly discarded old ambitions, changed old worldviews.

'Have you someone to protect?'

Sesshoumaru realized somewhere along the line his father's truth/reality/worldview had become his own as well. He wondered how many other shifts he would live through before he died. Something deep inside told him he could endure anything as long as someone who saw Sesshoumaru walked with him. In recent years it had been Rin but she was getting to a age where she could no longer follow him. For the hanyou it had been the miko Kagome. But she had insinuated she was no longer content following him.

He snuck a glance at her through the corner of his eye. Her head was tilted back, basking in the cool moon light. Perhaps she would be agreeable to an offer. But with the Shikon restored and gone her plans were uncertain. In the past he never would have made the first move, indicated interest, because he'd believed it was showing a weakness that would be exploited by enemies. But the miko Kagome was not his enemy.

"Do you have any plans? You mentioned your desire to complete more scholarly studies."

She made a face, wrinkling her nose. "I did. But the future is not my world, not any more. I don't belong there." She held up a hand, glowing pink with her powers. "I am an anomaly." She laughed softly. "The people in my time will fear and envy me as humans do youkai in this time. I would have to hide what I am from everyone, even a potential husband."

He stared at her directly. "Could you live here without hiding?"

She smiled brightly at him, like Rin. His breath caught. "I could."

He inclined his head once and turned away. He would not rush in recklessly, like the hanyou. If the miko was truly agreeable to the possibility of more it would be best to give her time to heal and regain her equilibrium.

~ooOoo~ooOoo~ooOoo~

The End.

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AN: There is one more part but all the prompts required for the Winter Wonderland challenge are in this chapter.

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