Chapter 7: Morning Revelations
When the sun rises,
what is there to discover
that yesterday hid?
What new thing will bloom for you
by the light of your soft smile?
Morning dawned bright and sunny.
Not long after that, Kagome and InuYasha sat in Sango’s house. Kagome had her sleeves tied back, and a scarf tied like a cap around her head to keep her hair out of the way, knelt next to Sango.
Today, she was dressed in a blue striped kosode with a checked wrap skirt, looking every bit the farm wife, but the look on her face showed no confidence about what she was about to do. InuYasha, trying not to make Kagome nervous, leaned against the wall, playing with Sango’s son. Little Nao, even as young as he was, found the hanyou’s silver hair and ears as fascinating as his sisters did, and watched the hanyou wiggle his ears at him. Luckily for the two of them, the twins still rested in the sleeping room.
The door slid open and Miroku walked in, fresh from his morning meditation, smelling of incense. He sat down to take off his sandals, and looked at the two women hovering around the fire pit. “So, Kagome-sama, Sango has told me that today you come to learn to cook,” asked Miroku as he slid open the door to let them in. He slipped off his sandals, and walked over to where his wife was working.
Kagome nodded, and grinned sheepishly. “I did learn to cook once,” she said, “But the kitchen was so much different,” she said.
“Don’t tease her, Miroku,” Sango said. She slapped at his fingers as he reached over to take a slice of pickle she was preparing.
Munching on his trophy, Miroku walked across the room and sat down next to InuYasha. Nao, seeing his father, began to fuss, and an uncertain InuYasha was happy to hand him back to his father.
“Go do something, Miroku,” Sango said.
“What do you want me to do?” the monk asked his wife. Nao grabbed one of his father’s fingers as he waved them in front of the small boy.
Sango frowned and thought for a moment. “You and InuYasha can take Nao outside. The girls are still sleeping, and I don’t want him waking them up.”
He nodded, and stood up. InuYasha looked inquiringly at Kagome, and she smiled to reassure him and nodded.
With a last silly grin, Miroku said, “Come, men. Let’s leave the women to their mysteries before they bring the wrath of the kitchen Kami upon our heads. Then what would we do for breakfast? Enjoy yourselves, beautiful women. Just don’t set the house on fire.”
InuYasha snorted and headed out of the house. Sango scowled at her husband as he slid the door closed, and then both she and Kagome broke out with the giggles.
“I don’t know why I’m so nervous,” Kagome said. Brushing a stray lock of hair off of her face and out of the way, she looked up at the ceiling above the fire pit to where the heavy wooden support for the pot hook was attached. There was a wicker basket stuffed with straw hanging up there with skewers of fish stuck in it. Thinking about her mother’s house and how the kitchen was laid out, she sighed. She knew all the people of this village and everywhere she had gone in Japan cooked over open fires like this, but thinking about how she and her mother cooked at home, she felt very intimidated. “I never really paid much attention to how Kaede cooked on the fire pit when I was here before,” she said finally. “All I know how to do is cook fish and rabbit on a stick.”
“Is it really that much different where you come from, Kagome-chan?” Sango asked.
“Yes,” she said. “More than you can imagine.”
Sango put a cast-iron tea kettle onto a tripod and stuck some small pieces of wood under it to burn hot, and then sat back up and looked thoughtful. “Well, let’s get the porridge started and I’ll show you how to make the soup stock,” she said. “I like to use a mix of dried niboshi fish and kombu for the stock. I’ve soaked the fish overnight . . . ”
Haru sipped his soup thoughtfully as he looked down the road in front of the tea shop. There were already a number of people on the road, merchants and farmers, though it was still fairly early in the morning, carrying burdens and leading pack animals. He shook his head at their industry, and considered what he should do next.
No longer dressed in the robes of a runaway foot soldier, but like an artisan of moderate means in garments of well-washed indigo blue, he watched his companion Jiro handle the horse that was now carrying all of their war gear. It made them seem less of a threat and made it safer for them to travel down the road instead of cross country. It had been a stroke of luck that the Kami had put an unwary group of travelers in their way yesterday. They would be able to travel much faster on the roads this way, and it was even luckier that they had found this rest stop where an enterprising fellow had decided to put up a tea shop between post towns. He was getting tired of eating his, or even worse, Jiro’s cooking.
“Well, how soon to you think it’ll be before we reach your sister’s village?” Jiro asked as he rejoined Haru. He picked up his soup bowl and started gulping it down.
Haru scratched idly at his head. “Damn fleas,” he muttered. “First thing I do when I get to Haname’s is to take a long, hot bath and drown whatever’s making me itch.” He took another drink of his soup. “I suspect we’ll get there tomorrow,” he told Jiro.
“What’s it like there?” the younger man asked.
“Sleepy. Quiet,” he replied. “Although if I know my sister, I suspect she causes the occasional hard time for her husband and her sons. She was always a hard woman to live around. Why the Kami let her be born as a woman instead of a man is one of the things in life I’ll never understand.”
“It’ll be good to rest for a while,” Jiro said, finishing the last of his soup.
“Don’t you get any ideas,” Haru said. “You get itchy, you let me know. I owe my sister that much at least.”
“Yeah, yeah,” said Jiro. He grabbed his partner’s empty bowl to return it to the shop owner. “Let’s get on the road.”
Myouga, hidden in Haru’s tea-whisk pony tail, once again contemplated the wisdom of his choice of rides.
InuYasha sat outside under a tree not far from his front door. As he leaned back against the tree trunk, he flicked his right ear as he watched Kagome walk past him in the bright midmorning sunlight as she made yet another circuit around the house. Stopping for a moment, she bent down and ran her fingers over the ground, and picked up a pinch of dirt. She looked up at the sky, and the trees overhanging the spot. Shaking her head, she began walking again.
His curiosity totally engaged, he got up, and began to follow her silently. She stopped at a different place, looked up at the sky, and again repeated of bending down and sampling the soil. She turned around and suddenly found herself bumping into a smiling but curious hanyou.
“This is the fourth time you’ve walked around the house,” he said. “Is this some miko thing from your time?”
“I know,” she said sheepishly, then chewed on her bottom lip. “No, it’s not miko anything.” She looked up at the sky, and then back at the ground again. “I’m not sure . . . ”
He smiled gently at her.“I’m sure of one thing. I don’t have any idea of what you’re doing,” he said, lightly wrapping his arms around her waist and resting his head on her forehead. “You wanna tell me about it?”
She gave him a small wry smile, but pulled back from his hold and turned around. “Oh, I was just thinking. We need a vegetable garden,” she said. “And I need to figure out where I want to put the laundry out to dry, and we’re going to want a storage building, too, unless you want to smell the miso and pickles making all the time, and . . . ”
“We don’t have to decide it all right this minute,” he said, pulling her close against her chest. He rested his chin on her shoulder.
She pointed. “I’d like to put the garden there, but it gets too much shade, I think.”
“So we’ll take a tree down if you really want it there,” he said, nuzzling the side of her neck. “We can use the wood for the shed.”
“That might work,” she replied. “And we could do the laundry over there. I don’t think the ground is as good.” With a sigh, she pulled out of his embrace and moved into the house.
She was sitting by the fire pit when he followed her inside. As he came and sat beside her, she stirred up the fire and filled the tea kettle with water. Before she could put it over the fire, InuYasha picked up her hand and wrapped it in his much larger one.
“You did good at breakfast,” he said. “Sango sent us home with lunch, so you don’t have to worry about that. We know where to put the garden. Wanna tell me what’s really bothering you?”
“It’s silly,” she said, chewing her bottom lip again.
“Try me,” he replied.
She covered her face with her hands. “I think they’re plotting something, and it’s driving me crazy.”
The hanyou’s eyebrows knitted together as his smile disappeared, and he wrapped her in his arms, pulling her close. “Who’s plotting? Did you hear something? Did someone say something to you? You need to let me know that type of thing.” He gently kissed the top of her head. “You know I won’t let anybody do anything to hurt you.”
She reached up and touched his cheek. “No, not any of the villagers, InuYasha. Our friends.”
“What are you talking about?” InuYasha asked, visibly relaxing, but not yet ready to let her go.
“Sango asked me not to stop by her house until tonight. When I went down after breakfast to talk to Kaede, she said she was going to be busy all afternoon. She even sent Rin out to do some chores, with instructions to come here after she was done, in case I needed any help. Miroku asked me to keep you busy today.” She rested her head on his shoulder. “You should have seen the smile on his face when he said that! I know they’re up to something. And I don’t know what it is.”
InuYasha chuckled. “And there I was afraid you were having second thoughts about being here, or someone had frightened you.”
She shoved at him playfully. “I knew you would think it was silly.” She stared at him for a moment, caught the glint in his eye and the smile he was working to suppress. “I bet you know what’s going on.”
“Not in detail,” he replied. “Miroku mentioned something to me this morning.”
“Well?” she asked.
He drew her closer, ran his hand through her hair. “Our friends,” he said, breathing into her ear, “are plotting a wedding.” He brushed his lips over hers. “Our wedding.”
Kagome’s face lit up. For the moment, as she fisted InuYasha’s suikan and pulled him closer, she totally forgot about the tea she was going to make.
Rin, dressed not in her good kosode, but in a worn blue hemp cloth one stained at the knees, walked along the rice paddy dike, heading towards the field just beyond that. She carried a hoe over one of her shoulders and a basket in the other.
A boy was walking along another dike that met the path she was walking along. He was about 12, and like her, dressed in indigo blue clothes. Looking up, he saw Rin walking and waved.
“Where ya going?”he asked as he drew nearer.
“Hello, Nakao-kun,” she said, looking down. “Rin is going to work in Kaede-sama’s garden.”
“Ah,” he said. “Can I walk with you?”
She looked up at him. He had a soft and pleasant smile. She had seen him working and playing around the village. Once in awhile, he would do an errand for Kaede.
She chewed her bottom lip. “If you want to,” she said. “Rin is going to pull weeds.”
He smiled. “I had to do that yesterday morning for my mom’s garden. Today, I was helping mend one of the dikes. That’s why I have so much mud on my legs.” Rin looked down and saw that his legs were indeed mud streaked. “But that’s done, and my father let me go do what I want for awhile.”
“Kaede-sama let me go do whatever I wanted today, too. I wanted to work in the garden,” Rin said, adjusting the basket she was holding.
“You want to pull weeds?” Nakao asked, incredulously.
She nodded. “Kaede-sama has been very nice to me, and gave me a part of the garden to grow flowers in. It hurts her, some days, to work in the garden.”
“My grandmother’s like that, too,” he said, looking down, nudging a rock with his toe.
“Nakao!”a voice shouted.
The two children turned to look as a boy in his mid-teens came walking up. “That’s Sukeo, my brother,” Nakao said.
Rin shifted her grip on the hoe she was carrying as she watched the older boy come up. He looked much like his younger brother, but had a worried, out-of-breath look about him. He was about fifteen, and unlike Nakao who still wore his hair in a boy’s cut, Sukeo wore his tied up tea-whisk style, like an adult.
“There you are!” the newcomer said. “Father’s been looking for you!”
“Oh! I guess I have to go, then” said Nakao. “I’ll see you later, Rin-chan.”
She waved at him, and turned to go, but was not quite out of earshot when she heard the older boy saying, “What do you think you were doing? Don’t you know she’s that youkai’s girl? No telling what will happen if you get too friendly with her.”
Suddenly, Rin felt very lonely.