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Fuyu, and Fuyu no Kokoro by Kanna37

Fuyu

Disclaimer: Do not own Inuyasha or any other original characters, only the storyline herein portrayed.

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Kagome tilted her face up to the sky, eyes closing, she concentrated on the feel of the snow touching her face like butterfly kisses across her cheeks. Winter had come... fairly early this year, and she thought idly that it suited her that way. Her life's winter had also come, and she was ready. She was tired. Life had not been kind, and it was time for her to find some peace.

Her mind drifted back to the days of her youth, her trips through the well, falling in love for the first and last time. Inuyasha. A small smile broke over her face as she thought of the inuhanyou who still, even now, when he belonged to another, held her heart.

After the defeat of Naraku, he had come to her, asking for Kikyou's life. He could not let go of the older priestess, she would always hold his heart. Kagome had been heartbroken, but she had never let him, or indeed anyone, know that. She would not ruin his happiness by visibly suffering, so, once Kikyou had been restored, and the Tama purified and gone, she had quietly gathered what few belongings she had, and set off to find a place for herself.

She could no longer go home, since the well had closed with the passing of the Shikon, the magic to fuel the well no longer existing. However, her friends didn't know that. She hadn't told them, and it was good that she had kept it a secret. This way they simply thought, when she disappeared, that she had gone home through the well. And after all these years, they still didn't know.

She sighed, deeply, wearily. Opening her eyes, she gazed out at the beautiful scene before her, and wondered if they ever thought about her. If they remembered, that once upon a time, there was a young, idealistic, happy girl that had loved all of them, enough to sacrifice everything for them. Or had they forgotten, in their happy lives... was her memory not necessary?

She shook her head at the memories, and continued walking. After leaving her friends, she had traveled for weeks, heading north - into remote areas that it was highly unlikely any of her friends or acquaintances from her shard hunting days would ever venture. The break, for her sake, had to be a clean one... it was the only way she'd ever survive the heartbreak, and she knew it. And it had been clean, indeed... in forty years she'd not seen hide nor hair of any of her old friends.

The one person she had seen, was the daiyoukai of the western lands, Sesshoumaru himself. He had come upon her one day in the fields of the high northern mountains, as he was passing through in his nigh continuous travels. He had been alone. He was surprised to see her there, and made that fact known immediately.

A slight smirk crossed her face for a moment... the inuyoukai had never been one for showing much of any emotion, but for some reason, the few times that he had, had usually been instigated by her. When he demanded an explanation for her continued presence in his era, she had explained the circumstances, and he had agreed not to tell any of the others about her if he ever happened to cross their paths, at least while she still lived.

He had had only one demand for that favor... that when she finally passed on, the village she was associated with would send a message to him informing him of her death. She had thought it odd that he would want to be told, and despite years of wondering about it, had never been able to come up with any good reason for his request. She finally gave up even questioning it.

She had seen him a couple more times over the last decades, always in passing, with only a few words exchanged each time. In all the time she'd known him, he'd never changed, still the quiet, stoic, beautiful youkai she'd known from the first. In some ways, that was comforting to her. It gave continuity to her memories.

It had been a good fifteen years since she had last seen him, and she knew that she would not see him come north again.

For all the time since she'd finally gotten rid of the Shikon jewel, she had existed in this far northern realm as the miko to a tiny village perched at the edge of the world. They knew the tales of her youth, even here, and as the fabled protector of the jewel, it gave her the excuse she needed as to why she hadn't aged. She still looked the same as she had at the moment she had wished on the jewel... the only changes had been inside. She was almost sixty years old now, and she felt every one of those years, even if they couldn't be seen.

That seemingly immortal youth had led to several proposals from the young village men who thought that someone of her power would make an excellent wife. She'd always turned them down... that life wasn't for her, and she knew it. Maybe she'd finally earned absolution enough for her past life's mistakes to be allowed that happiness in her next life. She could only hope, because she didn't want to live another life alone. It hurt.

She continued in her walk, heading home from a day working in the village. She had chosen to have her hut built somewhat away from the rest, for her own privacy's sake, and she had never regretted that decision. Even now, with white all around, and a cold, mournful wind blowing sadly against her skin, she enjoyed the walk... the melancholy sounds and sights of the storm suited her soul. It portrayed how she felt inside.

She let her eyes wander over the bare, jagged peaks of the mountains surrounding her, and nodded softly. Yes, it was time. She was more than ready to let go. She would sleep this night... and not wake again.

Everything was already in place for her death - if she didn't show up in the village for more than a day, someone would come check, and they knew to send word to Sesshoumaru, on pain of death if he did not receive notice. Even here, in a place so remote, his reputation was known, and would ensure that they carried out her wishes. Her few belongings she had left instructions for, they would go where most needed.

And that was really all. It seemed such meager preparation for her death... she who had once traversed time, and saved a world, was now a forgotten footnote of history, there wouldn't even be a marked grave to hail her passing.

She chuckled. It seemed the Kami could be very harsh when punishing one for one's past mistakes. Inuyasha would never know that when she gave Kikyou new life, she had taken on her punishments... the ones that had been deemed for Kikyou's actions, had passed down to her in the moment she had made that wish. She was pretty sure that Kikyou herself knew, but she would never tell, either.

She had loved Inuyasha enough to give every part of herself for his happiness... and this had been the price that she had willingly paid. But now, finally, it was over. She could move on, and pray that she had suffered enough to atone for Kikyou's mistakes.

Yes, she thought idly, as she reached her final destination in this life, maybe in my next life I can finally be whole... and not alone.

 

INUYASHA © Rumiko Takahashi/Shogakukan • Yomiuri TV • Sunrise 2000
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