Epilogue

Everything was ready. After the purifying of the Shikon jewel and the consequent end to the demon aggression in the area, a wedding was just the excuse the villagers needed to celebrate. The houses had been swept and scrubbed and hand made decorations hung everywhere, filling the village with a holiday atmosphere.

Days of preparation had gone into the food and drink for the wedding feast. Brightly colored materials covered each back as the villagers dug out their best from old trunks under floorboards.

Sango and Miroku were delighted to hold their wedding here. For the last year, this had been their home. After each perilous adventure, they had returned each time to Kaede's village to refresh themselves and revitalize from the rigors of demon fighting. In that time they had become - well if not close then well aquatinted with most of the people there. Also, with Sango's village having been completely decimated by demons, there weren't many other options. Miroku's only family was his mentor, Master Mushin, who had been invited to come and attend.

There was one other reason for holding the wedding at Kaede's village. It was nearest to the well. The Bone Eaters Well was their best friend's only way to come to their time, the location of the warp that would bring her back one last time. It lay just beyond the forest of Inu-Yasha. The forest was the one where the half demon had been trapped so many years, and Miroku and Sango had chosen to have the ceremony at the edge of the village just under its branches. It seemed appropriate somehow, as if some of the remaining essence of their lost friend would also be in attendance.

The stage was set, the guests were seated, only one thing was missing.

"Where is Kagome?" Shippou whispered, fidgeting in his seat.

"It is not like the child, to be so late," Kaede murmured from in front of the couple.

Miroku and Sango exchanged worried glances. "Maybe we should . . ." Miroku began. Just then, some birds took flight past them above the trees. There was a disturbance in the forest. Villagers tensed and hands were laid on not so hidden weapons nearby. Then a different sound filtered through the trees. It was the sound of voices, and they were arguing.

"Why do girls have to take so stinken long to get ready anyway?"

"You should know, you were one for a while. Besides, if your 'friends' hadn't interfered, thinking it was our wedding,"

"The $#&*! When I get back it's going to be major payback time."

That voice, it sounded like, but it couldn't be!

"Well I'm glad you listened to me and didn't ruin your clothes," Kagome said, patting Ranma on the shoulder just as he leaped down from the branches next to the platform.

Placing Kagome on her feet, Ranma turned to see shocked faces all around. "What?"

"You are late," Kaede said, eyeing the boy.

"Sorry," he muttered, yanking on his ponytail. Kagome quickly pulled him down to sit next to her, trying to look embarrassed and smug at the same time.

"Well well well," Miroku smirked, exchanging glances with Sango. Maybe they didn't have to worry about Kagome so much after all.

"If he isn't Inu-Yasha's reincarnation, then I'm Jaken," Sango replied, hiding a smile. Kaede raised a hand to get everyone's attention. "Let us begin."

It looked like everyone was going to have a happy ending after all, but if anyone had said that to Ranma he would have laughed in his or her face. He, above all people, knew that it was just another beginning.