Ever After by Leloi


Kagome softly closed the door to her room, careful not to wake the two who napped on her bed.  She settled into the desk chair and watched over the two.  She loved watching them sleep.  They looked innocent and peaceful.  One of the children stirred and whimpered.  Kagome picked up the little girl with short black hair with a practiced ease to comfort her back to sleep.  She cradled the child in her arms and sat back on the desk chair.  “It’s alright, Kaede.  Mommy’s here.”  The little girl fretted for a moment more before settling against her mother’s chest.

Two years… it had been almost two years since Kaede had been conceived.  Inu Yasha had taken her home and together they told her family.  Her mother’s tears easily rivaled Soun Tendo’s.  Grandpa had managed to calm her down and a wedding date was set.  Inu Yasha went along with the plans with a strange sort of acceptance.  He seemed to enjoy being pawed over as a bridegroom.  He was welcomed into the family and given a ring to wear.  The newlyweds returned to the past and searched out jewel shards until Kagome found it difficult to travel towards her eighth month.  Inu Yasha personally carried her through the well and to her family’s house.  “Stay there!” he said, tucking her in bed.  “I’ll come back for you.”  She stayed at home for the remainder of her pregnancy.  As if sensing the birth, Inu Yasha returned the day before Kaede was born to witness her entrance into the world.  He brought a sad little fox child to be protector of his wife and child.  “Take care of them, Shippou,” he begged as he returned to the well.

A little over a year passed.  Kagome sat brooding in her room, caring for two children.  Shippou had been a great help.  He was growing up before Kagome’s eyes.  He treated Kaede like a little sister.  Kaede, true to her demon heritage, developed at an accelerated rate.  She was able to walk and talk by the time she was a year old.  Being only a quarter demon, she had very few outward signs of her demon side.  Her ears were the faintest bit pointy and her smoky gray eyes flashed amber when she was angry.  Mostly she was a normal, human girl.  She asked a lot of questions about her father and Kagome was kept busy telling stories about her husband.

Kagome’s heart ached.  Where was her husband?  Not a visit or word had she received since Kaede’s birth.  Kagome read and reread her mother-in-law’s scrolls, seeing a pattern.  Inu Yasha’s father had disappeared, never to return, too. 

Kagome held her child close, fearful of her own thoughts of eternal delays.  “Where is he?”

She was aware that someone was beside her.  She turned to see the fox child.  He was getting big.  He was no longer the tiny fox demanding jewel shards.  He was tall enough to reach her waist and he lost most of his baby fat.  “What’s wrong, Kagome-mama?” he asked, holding her hand.

“Nothing,” she said, wiping her tears away.

The little boy whipped his tail and sat beside his adopted parent.  “You were worried about someone.  Was it Inu Yasha?”

Kagome gave him a sad little smile.  “He’s been gone a long time.”

Shippou used his fingers to brush through his fluffy tail thoughtfully.  “So, why don’t you go find him?” he asked quietly.

“He told me to stay here.”

“Like we ever listened to Dog Man before.  Kaede is old enough to travel.  I was her age when I was orphaned.”

Kagome bowed her head in acceptance.  “Alright, we go.” 

She left her family a note and hastily packed.  Shippou took her pack and shouldered it as Kagome strapped a groggy Kaede to her back.

“Where we go?” Kaede mumbled over her mother’s shoulder.

“To find your daddy.”

“OK,” the little girl said drowsily and fell back asleep.

Kagome glanced around the room, hoping to remember everything she needed.  It used to take her only a few minutes to pack.  She saw Kaede’s little silk dog, stained with much love, resting on the bed.  She added it to Shippou’s pack.  “To the well!” she commanded with one final glance about the room.  The fox boy howled in excitement.

The trip through the well made Kagome feel nostalgic.  She used to pass through a few times a week for three years straight.  The past year she hadn’t even ventured near the temple that housed it.  It brought back too much pain of what was missing from her life.  She held her breath and pulled herself out of the well, followed closely by the fox boy.

“Mama, what this place?” Kaede asked from her mother’s back.

“This is where your daddy came from.  There’s the tree I released him from.”

“Daddy,” the little girl echoed in wonder.  “Mama, where my daddy?”

“I don’t know.  That’s why we’re here.”

The little girl sniffled as her father used to.  Some of her mannerisms were exactly like her father’s.  It frightened Kagome. 

“Mama, let me down,” the little girl commanded.

“Why?”

“I smell something.”

Kagome sighed and untied the toddler.

Kaede stood on her own feet with her nose in the air.  She smiled and began to run as fast as her chubby legs could carry her.

“Kaede!” Kagome called out, following her child.

Suddenly Kaede jumped with a laugh and flew away.

“I didn’t know she could fly,” Shippou remarked dryly.

“We’ve got to catch her!” Kagome called over her shoulder, running after her daughter.

Kagome recognized the path.  She had taken it many times to the village.  She prayed that her child was heading there so she might be detained and returned.  Kagome skid to a stop on the outskirts of the village.  She watched as her daughter hovered in front of a window.  “Hi!” the little girl called out brightly to the inhabitant of the hut.

An old woman tottered out of the hut and smiled at the girl with very little surprise.  “Hello, my dear.  What can I do for you?”

“We look for daddy.  You know where daddy is?”

Kagome walked up to the two with Shippou behind her.  “Kaede…”

Both the old woman and child turned to stare at her.

“Kagome?” the old woman breathed.

“Mama!” the little girl brightened.

 “Hello Kaede-sama.  I am back.”  Kagome smiled.

Kaede hugged her.  “This child is yours?”

“Yes,” Kagome laughed, catching her hovering daughter.  “Kaede-chan, I want you to meet Kaede-sama.  You have her name.”

The little girl stared in awe at the older woman.

“She’s adorable,” Kaede smiled.  “I see she had a lot of her father in her.”

“She can be a handful…” Kagome blushed.

“And this young lad is Shippou?” Kaede indicated the fox boy.

“Hello, Kaede-grandma,” he greeted the older woman with a hug.

“What brings the three of you here to my door?” Kaede asked, staring intently at Kagome.

Kagome dropped her gaze to the dusty road at her feet.

“We look for daddy,” the little girl said.

“Kagome, is this true?  Inu Yasha isn’t home with you?”

“No…” Kagome whimpered, covering her tears.

“Come inside, child,” the older woman said, leading the three travelers into her hut.  She gave them all tea.  “Now tell me… When was the last time you saw Inu Yasha?”

“When Kaede was born.  He held her in his arms, gave me Shippou and left.”

“Shippou, where was he going after he saw his mate and child?”

“He was going off to find the last few shards.  The group found a lead,” the boy said, quietly.

“Those shards were found.  The jewel has been completed for almost two seasons.”

“Then were is he?” Kagome demanded.

“I don’t know,” Kaede replied sadly.  “I only know the quest was completed.  We aren’t all dead so I know the completed jewel hasn’t fallen into the wrong hands.”

Kagome covered her face and sobbed, “Where is my husband?  Someone has to know.”

“Mama, no cry,” the little girl said from her mother’s lap.

Kagome hugged her child and swallowed back tears.  “Where is the rest of the group?”

“I don’t know.”

“You don’t know?”

“They haven’t come here.  I assumed they split up and went their separate ways.”

“Mama, we look for daddy?” the little girl bounced up.  “I can find.”

“How can you find him?” her mother asked.

“I can smell things,” she said, touching her nose with pudgy baby fingers.

“Has her father’s nose, I see,” the old woman chuckled.

“That’s not all she has… his temper… his impatience… his…” Kagome broke off and began to cry again.

Kaede hugged her.  “This isn’t the Kagome I know.  She could face monsters and ultimate evil without a whimper.  She reclaimed her soul after it was ripped away.  She caught a demon’s heart and tamed it.  Where is that Kagome?”

“She’s out of practice.  She’s tired… and so lonely.”

“Your mate needs you to be strong while he’s away.”

“I know.”

“Strong for your daughter.”

“I know.”

“He loves you more than anything or anyone, including my sister.”

“I know.”

“He sent you home so he’d have something worth fighting for and protected for his return.”

“I know all this.”

“Then why are you sad?  He wouldn’t want you to be.”

“I know,” Kagome replied.

“Mama?” little Kaede whispered.

“Hmm?”

“I feel daddy.  He that way,” she smiled and pointed in a direction.

“I see she’s your daughter too.  She might have the sight,” Kaede said.

Kagome regarded her daughter.  “Will you come with me, Kaede?”

The old woman sighed.  “I’ll come.  I’ve been wanting to know how this story ends anyway.”

It was decided that since they were travelling with a young child and sunset was not far away, that they would start early the next morning.  Kagome lay her little girl down on the futon with her adopted brother and Inuko, the stuffed dog.

“That is a very sweet girl you have there,” Kaede remarked.

“She has a generous heart.  She’s always trying to help,” Kagome smiled.  “She’s my hope that he isn’t…”

“It’s best not to think about those things.  We will find him.”

“I hope so,” Kagome responded as she curled up beside her children.

Late in the night a small figure stood and walked out the door of the hut.  It didn’t make a sound and no one noticed its passing.

Kagome woke to bird song.  Instinct told her something was wrong.  She opened her eyes and looked to her children.  Shippou was snoring softly, using his tail as a pillow, but someone who normally slept at his side was missing.  “Kaede?  Kaede!”

Kaede-sama opened her eyes and looked puzzled.

“My baby is missing,” Kagome cried.

Shippou sat up, dazed.  The three of them frantically searched the small hut, but the child was not to be found.

“She must have left during the night,” Kaede remarked worriedly.  “We must go…”

They hastily packed and left for the road.

“Which way?” Shippou asked, turning around to stare at the open countryside.

“She pointed that way last night,” Kaede said, indicating a direction.

The small company traveled for hours.  Shippou was pensive over the loss of his playmate.  Kaede was worried over the small girl.  Kagome could barely contain her anxiety.  Her only child from Inu Yasha was somewhere in the wilds of feudal era Japan.  She could be attacked by demons or worse, men.  She tried not to think about it, but her nerves were shot from her constant worry.  She jumped when Kaede said, “What’s that?”  Kagome looked, expecting to see her baby dead by the roadside.  Instead she heard a giggle.

“Kaede!” Kagome cried and ran to the source of the giggle.

The little girl looked up at the approach of her mother.  “Mama!” she greeted as she was scooped up and kissed.

“Why did you leave?” Kagome demanded with tears in her eyes from relief.

“I go find daddy.  Mama no cry,” the little girl responded as if it was obvious.  “I find little flea man.”

Something bounced onto Kagome’s cheek and she swiped it absently.

“You hurt him!” Kaede cried.

Kagome looked down in her hand and the little squashed flea demon in her palm.  “Grandfather Myouga!  I’m so sorry.”

“No problem,” the flea responded, puffing back into shape.  “My lady, you’re here.”  He bowed formally.  “My prayers have been answered.  You must follow me, quick.”

“What do you mean?  Where’s Inu Yasha?”

“There’s time for that when we’re moving, but not now,” Myouga responded.  He bounced off of Kagome’s hand and started in a slightly different direction they had been heading.  Once they started following him, Myouga doubled back to sit on Kagome’s shoulder.  “Oh, my lady.  It is horrible,” he cried.

“What happened?  Where are the others?”

“We parted company after the completion of the jewel.  Then my lord shared the jewel with Kikyou to become human.”

Kagome stopped in her tracks.  Fear clouded her heart.

“Keep moving, lady.  I left him alone.  He’ll die if we don’t return.”

“How, why?” Kagome managed.

“Keep moving and I’ll tell you,” Myouga responded, bouncing on her shoulder to emphasis his urgency.

Kagome continued in the direction he had indicated.

“She helped us.  He couldn’t let her live out the miserable existence she would have had as a demon, so he shared the jewel with her on the condition that she’d become human with him.  She did, but she retained her powers.  She asked him to live with her, and when he refused, she trapped him.  He’s in a sort of suspended animation, much like when you released him from the tree.  She wakens him to ask him to reconsider, but he won’t, my lady.  Since he’s human, he has more need for food and water while he’s stuck, but she won’t provide for him.  She hopes she can break his spirit by denying him sustenance.  It’s been my job to care for him, but she found me and threatened to rip off my legs.  I decided it was time to leave and find help.”

Kagome didn’t respond to the flea’s tale.  She continued on their course without a sound.

“So, how do we help Dog Man?” Shippou asked, breaking the silence.

“I thought that maybe Kagome could break his bonds like she did the last time my lord was held.”

“How did you know Kagome was around?  You wouldn’t have been able to get through the well on your own to find her.”

“It was a chance I was willing to take.  Besides, I took a long drink from my lord.  I hoped his blood would let me pass.  Luckily I didn’t have to find out.  I ran into my little lady here.  I knew her at first glance,” Myouga chuckled.

“She ran away from us last night, “ Kagome replied.

“Has my lord’s restless spirit, does she?  He used to wander away from home a lot.  How else do you think I came into service?  I had to keep an eye on him as a lad.”

“Maybe we should get a flea demon for Kaede-chan,” Shippou mused, smiling at his playmate.

The little girl smiled back.

“I shall serve my little lady.  After all, she is my lord’s only heir.  All he has is hers by right of birth.”  He bounced off of Kagome’s shoulder and landed on Kaede’s.  The little girl giggled in delight as the flea did a little jump dance on her arm.

“Little flea man, little flea man,” she chanted.

“I used to be able to amuse my lord like this when he was young,” Myouga laughed.

Kagome stared off into the distance.  She saw a house on the hill.  “Grandfather Myouga… is that where we are going?”

“My lady?” the flea responded jumping to her shoulder and looking in the direction she pointed to.  “Yes, my lady.”

Kagome closed her eyes and tried to use her powers to feel a presence.  In the past she could always feel when Inu Yasha was near.  His spirit was wilder than any human was and yet it was warmer than anything demon.  Most demons gave a numbing cold aura that physically sent shivers down her spine.  The gentler ones were more like a cool breeze.  Inu Yasha was comfortable and yet exciting.  His presence made her feel good.  It was that presence she searched for in the house ahead.  She ignores Kaede-sama’s psychic heat and the two demons’ cool touch.  Her own daughter’s aura, so similar to her own and yet comforting like her father’s.  Kagome pushed past them and into the house that each physical step brought them closer to.  It felt empty, alone, sad and faintly cold.  She stopped and opened her eyes.

“My lady?” Myouga called in concern.

“There’s warding.”

“What do you mean?” Kaede-sama asked, squinting at the house that stood only a few hundred feet away.

“Something doesn’t want us there.”

“My sister?” the old woman asked.

“I can’t feel her or Inu Yasha,” Kagome shook her head.

“I think I remember Kikyou telling my lord that no one could come or go except them.  If that is true, how did I get out?”

“His blood,” Kaede-sama replied.  “You held his blood within you.  Maybe it works the same as the well… Only Kagome and Inu Yasha can pass unhindered.”

“Daddy in there!” Kaede-chan giggled and began to skip to the house.  She jumped and flew towards her destination.

Kagome looked up to see her child go.  “Kaede-chan, come back!” she cried.  She ran after the little girl.  As the child neared the house there was a visual shimmer.  “She passed through…” Kagome thought as she neared the same spot. 

A shock of cold passed through her and many voices screamed, “No!  You may not pass!”

Kagome pushed against them until they gave and she found herself in the warmth of the world again.  She looked back, but only felt the coldness from the ward.  She could no longer feel her companions who stood on the other side, staring at her.  “I’ll be back,” she told them and turned towards the house in time to see Kaede slip though a window.  “Kaede!” she called, following the girl.

*              *               *
The child alighted on the floor in a long hallway.  To her right was a door.  She slid it open and looked inside.

A man stood against the far wall.  He was wrapped in something brown.  The little girl took a timid step into the room and approached the wall with the bound man.  If he saw her, he gave no indication.  His eyes stared dully forward.  “Hi!” the little girl said brightly.  She jumped up and hovered near the man’s head.  “My name is Kaede.  Who are you?”

The man made no response.  His eyes didn’t even flicker.

“We look for my daddy.  Have you seen daddy?” she asked, undisturbed by the man’s lack of reaction.  “Mama misses him.  She sad daddy no return to her,” Kaede went on quietly.  “Hello?  Man?” she tapped the man on the head.  “Listen to Kaede.”  She bopped him on the nose with her ever present stuffed dog, Inuko.

For a moment the man’s eyes flickered and flashed on the smiling child.

“Hello daddy,” the little girl whispered, kissing the man’s cheek.  “Time to return to mama.”

A teardrop ran down the man’s cheek.  He sniffled and choked on a cry.  He blinked back tears.  “Kaede, my baby?” he whispered.  “Is that you?”

The little girl smiled and sat on his shoulder.  “Now we go find mama.”

The man sighed.  “I can’t move, little one.  I am stuck.”

“Then we wait for mama,” the little girl decided.

*                 *                *

Kagome ran through the hallways, frantically searching for her child.  She could feel Kikyou’s presence and she prayed to find her daughter before the other did.  She heard muffled footsteps and quickly entered a random room to hide.

“Mama!” a joyful screech echoed through the room.  Kagome turned to see her daughter perched on a man’s shoulder.  Not just any man.  She covered her mouth in surprise.  “Inu Yasha,” she breathed.

“Kagome.”  He gave her a faint, hopeful smile.

She rushed to him and held him.  She noticed the way he was held to the wall.  Wood encased him much like when they first met.  “What has she done to you?” Kagome cried, burying her face on his free shoulder.

“Mama, no cry.  Daddy found,” Kaede laughed.

“Look at this touching family reunion,” a new voice chuckled.

Kagome turned to the source of the voice.  Kikyou stood in the doorway.  “Kikyou,” she breathed.

“I see you’ve awakened him.”

“What have you done to him?”

“That doesn’t concern you.  He’s mine!  He was always mine.”

“Kikyou,” Inu Yasha began.

“Quiet, you!  Did I say you could speak?  As I said, future self… he belongs to me.  We shared the completed jewel and found humanity.  Now we are going to live together and die together like he promised.  No one can stop us.  I suggest you and your little friends leave… or die.  I still have my powers.”

“You mean old lady!”  Kaede screamed, jumping down from her perch.  “You no take daddy from mama!”  She stamped her little foot and her eyes flashed amber.

“How amusing, a brat.  No matter, Inu Yasha and I will make plenty more to replace her.”  Kikyou gave a nasty smile and reached out to touch the child with her powerful hand.

“No!”  Inu Yasha writhed against his bonds.  “Kikyou, stop!  She’s my daughter.  Harm her and I’ll never forgive you.”

“Threaten me?” Kikyou mused.  “Tell you what… You surrender yourself to me and I’ll let your spawn and her mother go.”

Inu Yasha stared dully at the ground.  “Deal,” he whispered.

“Inu Yasha, no!” Kagome cried, wrapping her arms around him.

“Kagome, my light…” he whispered.

She stared at him with tears running down her cheeks.

“My body may be taken by her, but my soul is with you, my mate… my wife.”  He strained forward to kiss her.  “I love you,” he whispered.  His eyes filled with hopelessness and he closed them.

“No, no!” screamed Kagome, holding him, but he refused to look at her.

“Go, love.  Live… for me.”

“You bitch!” Kagome seethed, turning to her previous incarnation.

“Careful girl.  I may be tempted to kill you despite his sacrifice,” Kikyou smiled in response.

“What the hell is wrong with you?  Your claims to him died when you died.”

“He promised me, even in death…”

“And you died.  And I was born to go back and set things right.  You lost your chance.  You screwed up, Kikyou.  You didn’t trust him and you punished him for it.”

“He loved me…”

“And he always will, but his heart is his own to do with as he pleases.  And if he chooses to love another…”

“But you are me.”

“No, I’m not.  We share a soul, but I am not Kikyou.  I’m Kagome, shrine maiden in twentieth century Tokyo, mother of Kaede.  There are parts of me you never had.  Things this soul learned after you died.”

“Such as?”

“Trust.  I trust, Kikyou.  I trust Inu Yasha.  He is willing to give up everything he has, just to save me… Including his hope.  And he does it freely… without being bound.”

“You are wrong there.”

Kagome stared fiercely at her rival.

“You see that thin band of gold around his finger?  You put it there.  Take it off of him so he can be free,” Kikyou said.

“You do it.”

“I can’t, only you can.”

Kagome sniffed and stared at Inu Yasha’s wedding ring.  “If I release him, then you do too.  Let him choose where he wants to be, who he wants to follow.”

“Kagome, don’t…” Inu Yasha breathed.  Opening his eyes to give her a pained look.  “Please don’t take my ring.”

“It’s only a symbol.  Trust me,” Kagome whispered, reaching for his hand.  “Do you agree, Kikyou?”

“Fine.  If we both release him he can choose his own bride.”

Kagome pulled off his wedding band and the wood that bound him disintegrated.  He crouched on the floor, staring at his left ring finger.  He stood and took the ring from Kagome’s hand.  “That’s mine,” he whispered and replaced the ring.  He bent down and picked up the little girl.  “This is mine too,” he said.  He stood before Kikyou.  “You were once mine, but I release you… We don’t hold things we love against their will.  Kagome taught me that.”

“But she bound you too…” Kikyou insisted.  “That ring…”

“I bound myself.  Understand that, Kikyou.  She’s my mate.  I mate for life.  That is my way.  You can’t take that away from me,” Inu Yasha said, pulling his child onto his shoulders and taking Kagome by the hand.

“Inu Yasha!  Inu Yasha!” Kikyou screamed as the small family found Kaede, Myouga and Shippou.

“I take it your business is done with my sister?” Kaede asked once they were safely on the road back to the village.

“It was done a long time ago,” Inu Yasha breathed.

“Inu Yasha-papa… You’re so… so human,” Shippou remarked.

Inu Yasha twitched. 

“I think he’s just fine,” Kagome said, leaning against her husband. 

The group of mismatched travelers followed the road into their futures.

--The End? 

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