Under the moonlight
Like a silver mirrored dream,
You showed me my heart.
The late afternoon sunlight was honey warm and sweet. Miroku sat down on the ground, leaning his back against the bench in front of Kaede's hut, resting his head lightly against Sango's knee. She was bent over some sewing, something new for her brother, as she sat there, a content picture of female domesticity, weaving her needle back and forth through the fabric she was stitching, with her eyes focused on her work. At this moment, she was blushing prettily as Miroku's violet eyes glittered with amusement. A passer-by on his way to the shrine would never have guessed what a powerful fighter she was, instead of a pretty housewife.
Kohaku, her brother, came and sat down near her. "Have you seen Shippou?" he asked. "Kaede wanted to ask him something."
"I think he went down to the river," Miroku said. "He's trying to catch fish for some reason or other. I think there's this girl he's trying to impress." Miroku grinned widely.
"He's spent too much time around you, Miroku," Sango said, nudging him with her knee.
The monk sighed, but was secretly pleased to hear his name said by the young taijiya. It had taken him a long time to persuade her to call him by his name, even after they had become intendeds.
"Why don't you go and see if you can find him?" Miroku suggested to the young boy. Even with his his fresh face and freckles, Kohaku had an old man's eyes, having seen and done too much too early in life, and Miroku wished he could do something to help him recapture his childhood. He had made a habit of trying to encourage him to rediscover his youth, but without much success. But the boy was sweet-natured, and happy to do what he was asked.
Kohaku stood up. "I'll go see if I can find him," he said, and wandered down the road.
"An interesting day," Sango said.
Miroku shifted a bit, and rested his cheek on Sango's knee. "I have the strange feeling that all of this was a plot hatched by Kaede and the village elders, my lovely Sango," Miroku said.
"Everybody who knows them knows that there is no way to separate our hanyou friend and miko. I think they offered him a place and are hoping that by doing so that they can at least make something respectable looking out of the situation. And perhaps, after nearly a year, Kaede might like her house back."
"Did the headman say something about that directly?" she asked, suddenly sticking her finger in her mouth after accidentally stabbing it with the sewing needle.
"No, but Kaede told me she had a talk with our friend. We'll find out soon if it was enough, or if I will have to sit down and explain the facts of life to him." He reached up and took her hand, and kissed the offending finger. "You must be more careful, Sango my dearest."
"Swords sometimes are easier than needles," Sango murmured, blushing at his attention. Taking her hand back, she asked, "So what did the headman actually tell you?"
"He's expecting us to continue acting like the village protectors. In exchange, he set aside that land over there and will build two houses on it. He made some broad hints about what a nice place it would make to raise families."
Sango looked into Miroku's smiling face when he said that, and what she saw made her drop her eyes and return to her sewing.
"I think, though, when InuYasha joined us, he thought he was going to be asked to leave. He really doesn't understand how many people here appreciate what he's done, and how he takes care of Kagome-sama." Miroku looked down at his right hand, so long hidden behind its wrap, and stared at the unscarred and naked flesh. It still felt strange for it to be uncovered. He missed the weight and feel of the prayer beads. "So many of them think of her as Kikyou returned to them. Most never knew Kikyou-sama, but she has almost a kami status with them. This last year he has become not the monster in the woods, but the hero released from the spell to protect the miko as they sought to end the evil that took Kikyou away from them to begin with."
"Then he must have been very surprised when the head man told him about the land." Sango said.
"Oh, yes indeed. It was hard to describe, the transition from InuYasha with that disgruntled look on his face, you know the one where he expects to have to deal with bad news or rejection, to surprise. He's not used to being accepted, and can act gruff and embarrassed about it, but he does like it." Miroku stood up, straightening his robes. "Once the headman left us, he ran back here as fast as he could. All he told me was that he had to go talk to Kagome." Miroku sat down on the bench next to Sango, looked at her needlework, and said, "You have a very fine hand, Sango my dearest, with needle or sword."
She smiled into her work.
They grew quiet for a few minutes. Shippou walked up to the hut carrying a fish, with Kohaku trailing behind him.
"Well," said Miroku, "Did you find your friend?"
Shippou sighed. "Yeah. But Kohana told me it wasn't as good a fish as the one Yoshi got. But she smiled at me this time."
Miroku nodded with a sage look on his face. "Very good, Shippou. Perhaps next time, she'll do more than smile."
Sango nudged the monk with her elbow. "Don't teach him your hentai ways - Kagome will skin you!"
Miroku, with a mock frown on his face, shook his head. "I am so misunderstood."
Shippou laughed and sniffed the air. "Where is Kagome?" he asked, coming up to the two of them.
"She went for a walk with InuYasha," said Sango. "She should be back soon."
"Then I'll go find her. I want to show her my fish. Come on Kohaku!" Shippou said. Miroku grabbed him by his collar.
"Not this time, Shippou. I know she'll be proud of you, but this is one of those times they need to be together alone. Why don't you go show it to Kaede? She's awake now." Miroku said. "Maybe she'll fix it for dinner."
Frowning, but realizing Miroku was serious, Shippou sighed and said, "Oh, all right," and walked into the hut with Kohaku following him.
Not long after the boys went inside, Miroku looked up. "My, my," he said, nudging Sango with his elbow. "InuYasha and Kagome are returning. Look at them, Sango my dearest."
Kagome and InuYasha were walking quite close together. From time to time, Kagome's eyes would meet those of the silver-haired hanyou, then drop away, but she kept a small soft smile the entire time. They both walked with an easy gait, and even though InuYasha's ears were on alert as always, listening for potential problems, he only had eyes for the slight woman at his side.
"Well, what do you think?" Sango asked. "And don't you dare tease them."
"Well, if he asked her anything important, she didn't say no," the monk replied. "I give you my solemn word I won't, but it won't be easy."
Miroku's eyes danced with an amused light as the two drew up to the front of the hut, and it was obvious he was suppressing an even larger smile than he had.
"What's your problem, bouzu?" InuYasha said.
InuYasha stood there, with his arm wrapped around Kagome's waist, and she was looking up at him, her blue-gray eyes sparkling, with a contented smile, a light dusting of color across her cheeks.
"You look like a man who's much too happy, InuYasha," Miroku said.
"Keh," InuYasha said. "You should speak for yourself, Monk."
"I will admit to being pleased by events," said Miroku. "Sango and I have been discussing what to do next."
"I have two more months of mourning for my father," Sango said. "But after that, we will be officially wed, and I will move into the house Miroku is going to have here," she said, putting aside her sewing. "I think it would be better for Kohaku, too."
'Wonderful," said Kagome. "I'm so glad that you will be staying here in the village."
"And what about you, my friend?" asked Miroku, smiling. "You too will be staying in the village, will you not?"
"Somebody's got to keep an eye on you, bouzu," InuYasha replied.
"But I need to ask a favor before you give up your robes and become a full-time taijiya," InuYasha said.
"Oh?" Miroku said, raising an eyebrow.
"I need a wedding done. Might be hard for me to find a Shinto priest to agree to it, and I'd rather not have one of them try to purify me to a crisp during the wedding," InuYasha said. "I know it's not common, but we'd like you to do the ceremony for us with the Buddhist blessing."
Sango jumped up and squealed loudly enough to make InuYasha flatten his ears as she ran to embrace the younger girl. "I'm so happy for you!"
"Ow, Sango! I believed they heard you in Edo," said InuYasha, rubbing his abused ears, but smiling even as he complained.
Kaede and the boys, hearing the noise, stepped out of the hut. "Well," said the older miko, her single eye glittering in amusement. "From the sound of things, I do believe some congratulations are in order. Come in and eat dinner. This may be one of the last quiet days you have for awhile."
After dinner, the circle of friends sat in the hut lit by the light of the fire pit, as they had done so many nights for the past year.
Kagome was sitting next to InuYasha, where she had been most of the evening. "So, Sango, what made you decide to stay here instead of back at the Taijiya village?" she asked.
Sango looked up from the cord she was braiding, a piece created from bright linen threads for her slayer's gear. "It is too quiet and still there any more," she said. "The difference between the way it was in my mind, and the way it feels today - I just realized I didn't want to live there any more. We will go there if we need things, and to tend to the graves, but it's not a place to start a family or make a life any more. Miroku, Kohaku and I - I want us to be happy." Sango smiled into the violet eyes of the monk who sat next to her, then quickly looked down again.
"You deserve it," Kagome replied. She leaned her head against InuYasha's shoulder.
Shippou came and sat next to Kagome, looking at her with big, but worried eyes. She rested her hand on the little kitsune's head. "But Kagome, if you're going to marry InuYasha and live with him in his new house, what's going to happen to me?"
"What do you think, Runt?" said InuYasha, smirking at the kit. "You're coming with us."
Kagome nodded in agreement, ruffling his hair. "You'll always have a place with us, Shippou."
"Good," said the boy, looking up at InuYasha. "Somebody's gotta make sure you treat Kagome right!"
Miroku, leaned forward, and suppressed a laugh.
"So what's next?" InuYasha asked the monk.
"Well, the houses, I guess, although from what the headman said, the village will see to their construction, mostly, although we will need to find some wood. And after you and Kagome are settled," he said, with a knowing grin, "Sango and I will go to visit Master Mushin, after which, I will need new clothes, and there will be another wedding," he said, taking Sango's hand. She blushed prettily. "I'm sure the women will find lots to keep us busy with all the wedding plans in the meanwhile."
"Oh, I am sure they will find a thing or two for you to do," said Kaede wisely.
"I need some fresh air," InuYasha said, standing up. "Let's go for a walk, Kagome." He offered her his hand.
"Can I go?" asked Shippou.
"No, you stay here with me," said Kaede. "You can show Sango and Kohaku that new illusion you were doing when I wanted you do bring more firewood in the other day."
InuYasha stood by the door, holding the mat open. Kagome grinned as she walked through the doorway, remembering how Kaede had almost tripped over the wooden pickle barrel that was standing in front of the house the other day, where no pickle barrel had ever been before. It had gotten Shippou stuck in a corner with a sutra on his back for half an afternoon.
Once they were out of the hut, InuYasha kneeled, and Kagome got on his back. He ran under the moonlight, its light highlighting his pale hair into a softer silver, making the red of his robes almost a black.
Suddenly, they were at the Goshinboku. InuYasha stopped, and Kagome slid down. He quickly shed his suikan, laid it on the ground.
He sat down. "Sit with me?" he asked.
Kagome sat down, and rested her head against his shoulder. His arm wrapped around her, pulling her close. "Happy?" he asked.
"Yes," she replied. "And excited. And nervous."
"Me too," he said, resting his cheek on her head. "Do you get the feeling our friends have been plotting about things behind our backs.?"
"Maybe," she replied. "They sure seem to know everything we're supposed to be doing the next few weeks. I was listening to Kaede and Sango talking while we fixed dinner."
"Wouldn't put it past them," he said. "Maybe we should start calling Kaede 'Go-between-sama.'"
She laughed a little at that. InuYasha lifted her chin up, looked at her deeply, intently. He kissed her gently on the forehead, the nose, the mouth. Kagome relaxed into his kiss as his arms encircled her, felt herself overwhelmed by his taste, his smell, the strength of him enfolding her.
He broke off the kiss, rested his forehead against hers, taking a deep breath, as if trying to regain control. "Damn, 'Gome, you taste so good." She reached up, and gently touched his cheek. He caught the hand in his, brought it to his lips, kissing the palm, then intertwined his fingers with it, and pulled it away.
"Listen, Kagome. Tomorrow the word will be all over the village. Lots of people here mean us well. But if you hear anything, anybody make a rude comment about you and me, you tell me. I can't protect me if you don't let me know." His face took on a totally serious, intense look. "Some of'em aren't going to like the fact that the Inugami is marrying the Inugami-mochi."
"InuYasha!" she said, sharply. "You are not an Inugami! You may be part InuYoukai, but you are not my familiar spirit to control. I'm not some old woman who has a dog spirit to do my bidding."
He sighed, and straightened up. "I know it, although you used to use the beads around here enough that I know some of them think just that. Just tell me, Kagome, if someone treats you rudely or says something. It could be important."
She searched his face, saw traces of anxiety there. "You're thinking about your mother," she said.
"She went through hell before she died, Kagome. I don't want that to happen to you." He sighed.
She kissed him gently on the cheek. "I promise," she said.