After throwing herself into her family's arms, throwing herself down the well- with miraculously no injury once she found out it would not take her back to the Feudal Era- Kagome immediately threw herself into her school work.
With Eri, Ayumi, and Yuka in the same high school as her, it wasn't too hard to become adjusted, though being separated into different classes had made her a bit sad. She finally came clean about what had been going on during their final year of middle school. Ever since they came to her shrine and found her family panicking at the well shed, the cat had been out of the bag.
They were first amazed and in shock, but despite their initial disbelief, (and honestly, who could blame them?) they each fit the pieces of her story together. Ayumi, as per usual, was the first to cast her undying support and enthusiasm about the whole ordeal. Eri and Yuka weren't nearly as romantic, but they all managed to pry the details of her journey out of her. They nearly laughed at how oblivious they had to have been to be in the dark for so long.
It had partially been because her family was always supporting her; her mother's vague answers and honest kindness, her grandfather's endless excuses, and her brother's thoughtfulness and care in her absence. Kagome knew she couldn't have been a luckier girl. Her family had always been so understanding, and when she was a moping mess about being unable to travel back in time, her family was the only source of consoling that could bring her back to a semblance of her self. They never forced her into anything, be it talking, or getting out of bed, or making her go to school. For that she was thankful.
Besides, if she could manage to hold her head above water in middle school, she sure as hell could catch up from missing only a day or two of class.
And she proved them right.
After initially playing catch up in the beginning of her high school career, Kagome Higurashi was her old, academic self again. She had always been a good student, despite her intense struggles with mathematics, but now that she was in school regularly, she was back on top. Her grades consistently put her at the top ranks, which had been normal before she met Inuyasha. But back then, grades were her everything; her one and only priority. She had a new outlook on life now that put experiencing the world and cherishing the people you loved above numbers on paper. It was just that she was a smart girl, and dedicating herself to studying was the best way she could distract herself from missing her friends in the past.
Math was still a struggle, but thankfully she had Ayumi the Math-wiz to help her if she ever got really confused, but that didn't happen all that often. What could she say? Kagome really just hated math.
English had been the biggest change. It was so odd to her, that she had gotten so used to the old, rural Japanese of the past, and now she was suddenly thrust into learning an entirely new language. It had always been around, and she knew some super simple English before due to how many tourists came by her family's shrine, but taking it on this intensely as a subject was a little more jarring. Still, she got used to it and even found herself indulging in more American movies to get a better hang of listening.
Unsurprisingly, she excelled at physical education. Rumors of her infamous bouts of illness had gotten to some of her new classmates and even the teachers, so she made up some excuse about intensive physical therapy to explain why she was so good.
Running was second nature to her, and she hardly broke a sweat from the leisurely jogs around the track. She probably could have run a lot faster with some actual motivation, but as she moved her legs, her mind would wander. When she reached the end as one of the first people, looking calm and with steady breath, she hadn't noticed. She wasn't the fastest sprinter, the most flexible, or the strongest, but she was always second or third best.
After seeing her run for the first few sessions, their teacher had asked her if she would like to join the track team, despite the fact that they had already held tryouts and practice was underway. The girl politely declined, unsure of whether she wanted to devote so much time to any club when she had just gotten back into the swing of academics.
Then she set her eyes on the Archery Club. Her breath caught as she watched one girl- whom she found out later was the captain- draw out an arrow and string it with poise and grace, and an assuredness that was so beautiful. As she drew it back, Kagome felt her heartstrings go as taut as the string of the bow. The release and subsequent wooden tang of the arrow striking the center of the target was a direct shot to her chest. She signed up for Archery Club that day.
She became the club's favorite first-year student. Most of the other new girls had some experience, but Kagome knew hers was different. How many other girls carried their bow and quiver of arrows twenty-four hours as a weapon? None, and it showed. It was actually somewhat difficult to pick up at first. Her stance was different than the other girls, informal and all for her own comfort. Her upperclassmen would straighten her back by a few millimeters and adjust her arms just so. Kagome wished she had had their instruction earlier when she was just learning how to fire an arrow. It would have helped a lot more than Inuyasha screaming at her, but she did miss her instructions coming from Keade's steady voice...
Well, if she ever went back, she'd show her friends that she managed to get even better at her weapon handling, not worse with loss of practice. The thought drove her to work even harder, and soon she found that she simply could not miss. She never had a bad day, hardly a bad shot. The worst was off center by less than five centimeters. It was because she had sneezed.
By her second year, Kagome had earned the respect of the club, nearly becoming the captain but refraining from the position that was more than well-deserved by her third-year senpai. They weren't upset about it, and pushed her to become the club's president the next year. She was hesitant, never having been in charge of anything like that before, but they eventually convinced her, and all the girls were absolutely enamored with the idea of Kagome Higurashi, President of the Archery Club.
She remembered the first time they had gone to a big competition. In lieu of the plainer uniform they had all worn during regular practice days and other matches, the outfits she wore then were much prettier. As her mother fussed over her ties and hair, Kagome couldn't help but feel weird. Sure, the uniforms kind of reminded her of her miko garb, but this was an entirely different level of formal. Her hair had been put up and pinned, the top kimono was beautifully patterned. She fit in with all the other girls, but when they asked her why she was being so quiet she simply replied,
"I've never been this dressed up to shoot before..."
She'd been in her regular sailor uniform almost exclusively every time she held a bow, and going from one uniform, to miko uniform, to school practice uniform all felt pretty normal. This wasn't like the Feudal Era where her skills were purely for defense. This was a show, and the performance aspect had her more nervous than actually hitting the mark.
Inuyasha would scoff if he saw her, she thought both amusedly and with a tinge of sadness. Despite the fact that he'd probably mock her for how gussied up she got merely for this, he would have no doubt shown his support if he could be here. Sure, he wasn't for all the bells and whistles, but he'd definitely be there. And with that resolve, she pretended that he was there cheering her on as she hit every single mark. Her mother nearly cried at how beautifully she had done, and the girls from the club had fawned all over her.
No matter what she did, Kagome ended up being relatively popular in school. Outside of Archery Club and class, she tended to stick with her trio of friends though. Funny enough, despite all the time she spent away from them, the more it gave them to bond over during their high school days. There were sleepover nights where they would listen and question endlessly about her other life. Surprisingly, it actually made her happier to talk about it than sad. Of course the nostalgia got her down sometimes, but getting to talk about her time there was therapeutic in a way. It solidified that it happened, that she hadn't dreamed it all.
Her friends asked her a million and a half questions about her "boyfriend" Inuyasha. She clarified the whole relationship, explaining in detail the messy complications that it had. They certainly weren't very relatable circumstances, yet her friends got more understanding the more she spoke. The girls had their share of drama as well. Yuka and Eri both had boy problems constantly, and now that they knew about Kagome's absolute dedication to Inuyasha, they had turned their matchmaking work onto Ayumi. They'd laugh and talk until the earliest morning hours before drifting off to sleep. Every night, no matter where she was though, Kagome would wonder what Inuyasha was up to.
By her third year, the prospect of university was added into the buzz of her high school life. It left her feelings confused.
"You could probably get a scholarship for Tokyo University if you really wanted, Higurashi," her teacher told her.
"Is that so?" she asked, feeling unsure. Tokyo University, huh? It was one of the most prestigious schools in all of Japan. Could she really get in on a scholarship? Did she even want to...?
"Your university choice should take into account what you'd like your career to be. I see on your application your choices are Nurse, Historian, and... Shrine Caretaker?" The teacher frowned.
"That's what my family does." It was probably what she was leaning towards, actually. Over the past three years, she had learned to love her home even more. She gave tours and told stories enthusiastically, embracing the life her grandfather had always wanted for her. She was more respectful as he told his long winded tales, and he even listened to hers. Plus he was getting into his later years, and she wanted to take care of some of the shrine duties for him.
"Still, because of your high marks and even your aptitude for archery, you could qualify for a full-ride. All four years would be paid for by the university. I suggest you talk it over with your mother."
She was quiet.
"And... if it's about staying home, then this school isn't a bad choice either. You could easily commute and live at home at the same time."
"I'll... think about it sensei."
Once she discussed it with her mother, she still didn't know what to do, whether or not she'd actually attend college or what she wanted to do even if she got in. The entrance exams were approaching, and if she really was worried about getting admitted, it might have been a good idea to go to cram school... though that'd really disrupt her time as the Archery President.
In the end, she decided she would apply to school, but she would be fine if she didn't get in or get a scholarship. If she did get in, she could still not go. There was no harm in trying.
Honestly, she was actually afraid to attend university. University was a completely new chapter in her life, one that would undoubtedly separate her from her middle school friends. At the onset of high school, Inuyasha had been there. She graduated middle school, and her new classes began as she was off in the final hunt for Naraku. High school had been just like the visions given to her by the Shikon no Tama, right before Inuyasha found her and she wished the thing to disappear forever.
But she hadn't said goodbye to Inuyasha after. Even if the well had cut off their connection, it was as if some of those days had bled over into her high school life. She wasn't at all ready to say goodbye though, to close that chapter of her life once and for all. Going to university meant moving on, letting go, and knowing that her life in Sengoku was in her past... and Kagome just didn't feel prepared to do that. For the past few years, she had felt askew here, slightly out of place. It was like she was looking at her world as if it was merely her childhood home. She had grown up elsewhere, and now she was back. Would she just have to keep going in this world for the rest of her life like this? Feeling like she used to be from here?
Her acceptance into Tokyo University was met with more confusion. Her friends supported her, encouraged her to do what felt right. The same went for her brother and grandfather. Her mother though, sat with her and rubbed her back soothingly as she advised her to listen to her heart. They sat underneath Goshinboku as they often did during their deep conversations, and Kagome came to the conclusion that she really wanted to stay home, at least for now. She was the happiest at the shrine, felt the most at peace near the Sacred tree and in her room. Even though school was going to end, she could hold on to the past here. Home was the only thing that made her feel like she wasn't completely out of place.
After all, she had wanted to come home so desperately when she was stuck in the Meidou. It only felt right that she stayed where she wanted to be. She had been so utterly relieved to see her family again; she scurried to them and flung herself into their arms. They cried and held each other, and then... Inuyasha was gone.
She'd thought of him every day since. Once, she had told the hanyou that she would never be able to forget him. Three years since she last saw him, and that statement proved to be true for her. Kagome could try and plunge herself into her schoolwork and activities as much as she could, but thoughts of Inuyasha were always somewhere in her mind.
She couldn't fire an arrow without remembering what it felt like to do so while she was in Sengoku, when the consequences of her hitting her mark were much more dire than scorecards at competitions. She could not sit over her books and study without recalling how she had tried so hard to do so back when they were chasing down Shikon fragments, and the way that Inuyasha would peer over her when she attempted to study in her time. He was everywhere, but it was at home that she felt the closest to him. It was also where she felt the farthest from him... because if she was being honest with herself, her house no longer felt like a complete home. Inuyasha's absence was noticeable, and every time she saw that her windows were shut, her bed was empty, and there was no place setting for him at their table, it made her sad.
She'd reached out to Goshinboku many times over the past three years. It brought her comfort, whereas the well house only brought a deep grievance. Every failed attempt made her heart ache, but... she also had her reservations. Every time she tried to use it, there was a part of her that was afraid. She wasn't afraid of seeing Inuyasha, but she had always been scared that if she went down that well, it would be final. She'd never see her family again if she were to go. She wondered if the magic that let her cross the border could sense her hesitation. What Kagome might have feared about all of that was if she did pick a side, his side, would it even make a difference? Could she go back?
It was after graduation that she decided to visit the well again, this time with a determination.
So she wasn't moving on quite yet, but graduation had definitely felt final. Kagome didn't have to go to school anymore, and she could make a life here with her family.
But... it'd be a life without Inuyasha, and Kagome just wasn't sure how happy she could be with that future. The only thing she knew, that she always knew...
Ah, so that was it, wasn't it? That was where she really, really wanted to be. Her home wasn't a place. It was a boy. She loved her family so much, but Kagome finally felt like she was ready. She did need to move on from here. The well knew what was in her heart...
Inuyasha, I want to see you...
And then her breath caught when she heard the sound of air...