Author's notes: I'm really sorry this took so long. I had a really bad case of writer's block. This epilogue is the closing scene of "The findings of earth" and "Heavenly lost".

I strongly recommend that you read the prologue of this fic before you read the epilogue. It was posted over a year ago and this way, you can remember some things that are vital to understand this last part.

Special thanks to Lysse-chan, who drew a fanart for this story. You can find it here:

www.galeon.com/lysse-chan/Kenshin/TFOE

I would also like to thank JP for beta reading these last chapters. Thanks a lot, you are great!

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Epilogue

A Moment Forever

It was a sad day. Even though the sun was shining brightly and the birds were singing like any other day, she knew it was a sad day. She was young, she had just turned ten but she was no fool. Everyone knew she was a smart girl and no one insulted her by trying to hide the truth. After all, death is a part of life and everyone has to learn that, even a little girl.

Her name was Ashka and she has lived in the same house all her life. As far back as she could remember she has always had the same neighbors. They were all nice but there was a couple she liked best of all. They lived in the house in front of hers and they were always very nice. They had always been old too. She didn't mind, she liked old people and they were like grandparents to her. Her real grandparents died before she even knew them so the couple across the street was a good substitute in her eyes. They were called Kaoru and Kenshin but to her they would always be Soba and Sobu. [1]

They lived alone – since they never had any children, and Ashka enjoyed spending time in their house, drinking tea and listening to wonderful stories they used to tell, about ancient times and other worlds. She asked them once if all those things were true and Sobu just smiled at her and told her that she would have to decide for herself. She did and she believed them.

That was why even if it was a sad day she still hoped that maybe, for them, it wasn't so sad.

They had died the same day. Ashka's father had told her that something like that didn't usually happen and that it was a proof of how much they cared about each other. Ashka never doubted that it was true.

She felt tears running down her cheeks and used her sleeve to dry them off. She wasn't the only one crying; the cemetery was filled with people, mostly from the neighborhood that had come to say their last goodbye to them.

They were buried together, next to each other, just the way they would have wanted it.

Ashka visited their graves every year and eventually, when she grew old, she told her children the story of a couple that have lived two lifetimes and traveled to the depths of hell just to be with each other.

"And did they make it mommy? Were they finally together?"

"I don't know for sure, honey, but I like to think they did."

* * *

He felt like he was falling from high up and there was no way to stop. He wanted to scream but the words couldn't leave his mouth. His eyes were closed and he didn't dare to open them. He felt like everything was spinning around him and he was unable to control anything. He wanted to breathe but he couldn't; there was no air and he was suffocating.  Then, he felt something hit him and his whole body was suddenly in pain for a split second and then it stopped. Everything stopped: the spinning, the falling, the lack of air… and it was replaced by a warm feeling inside his chest. He felt like he was pleasantly floating through the sky and a soft wind played with his hair as he took a gasp of air.

He opened his eyes slowly. At first he could only see a bright light in front of him. He blinked a couple of times and his eyes started to get adjusted. He distinguished some shadows that little by little began to clear up. He blinked again in disbelief when he realized what he was seeing. In front of him was the inside yard of the Kamiya Dojo.

It had been so long since he had seen that last. Everything looked the way he remembered it, the only thing missing was…

"Kenshin?"

He turned and looked at her. She was standing beside him, wearing the blue kimono she loved so much. Her hair was no longer gray and short. It was long and the color of the night. Her skin was a smooth as he remembered it and her eyes were no longer tired but sparkling.

"We are home," she said.

Home, he had heard that word so many times, but now it had a new meaning.

"So you finally decided to show up!" said a voice from behind them. A voice

Kenshin and Kaoru could easily recognize.

"Sano!" They both said at the same time.

Sanosuke Sagara was just the way they remembered him. He stood tall in the same white clothes he always wore. His hair was as spiky as ever and the fish bone was hanging from his lips. He looked twenty, just the way he looked when they all met, all those years before.

What Kenshin experienced when he saw his friend, after they had been apart for so long, couldn't be described by words.

His mind was still trying to assimilate that he was back in the dojo, the first place he had learned to call home. He had no words; he just stood in shock waiting to see what else could happen.

* * *

Sano, however, would have none of that. The last time he had seen Kenshin was more than a life time ago. The last time he had seen his friend alive had been a hit to the heart. Kenshin had been dying that time and his soul was burdened by the terrible feeling that he wouldn't be able to see his loved one for the last time.

Now Sano saw the Kenshin and Kaoru he remembered standing in front of him. They both looked the way they did when he first met them. Kaoru looked as beautiful as ever and Kenshin had that aura of power that had always been with him.

Sano threw his arms around his friends and hugged them tightly. "It's good to see you again," he said.

"It has been a long time," said Kenshin, finally regaining his voice.

"I hope you've been taking good care of this place," said Kaoru with a smile on her face.

"He wouldn't have been able to do it even if his life, or his after-life, depended on it," said Yahiko coming out of the dojo.

* * *

Yahiko looked grown up. He was tall and his muscles had developed. His air fell over his brown eyes and he was wearing a blue gi with the kanji of "Aku" written on the back.

Kaoru left Sano to embrace the person she had grown to think of as a little brother. Yahiko eagerly returned the hug.

Kaoru soon found Kenshin's arms around them both and smiled. They were together again.

"We've been watching over you," said Sano. "But we weren't worried; we knew you would make it."

"That doesn't mean that we didn't interfere a little bit," commented Yahiko.

"Interfere?" questioned Kenshin.

"Well, we knew you would need your Sakabatou back so we guided the sword buyer in the right direction," said Sano, nonchalantly.

"I thank you for that, my friend. My sword was quite useful."

At that moment, the dramatic atmosphere caused by the arrival of the two souls was broken and they were just, the old friends they had been, looking after each other.

* * *

The arrival of a bright light brought silence back to the dojo yard. Everyone looked at the light with wonder in their eyes. Two of them were studying the phenomenon, trying to understand what it was.

Kaoru already knew. It was her third encounter with the light and she had been expecting its arrival from the moment she realized she was dead. [2]

Kaoru took a step forward and waited for the light to talk.

"So we meet again," said the soft voice that could be assumed, was coming from the light. "I've been watching you and I've been with you through your entire journey. A decision has finally been made regarding the fate of your souls."

No one dared to speak. They just stood there, waiting expectantly for the verdict.

"Your love is strong. Stronger than anything we've ever seen. It was your devotion to each other that allowed you to leave hell. Sadly, love isn't enough to be granted passage to heaven." There was a short pause. "We believe in the goodness within your souls and that's why we gave you another chance to repent for your sins. We made your journey difficult to test your reactions. Even if you didn't consciously remember what happened, we expected your souls to have the knowledge to guide you on the right way. You were faced with difficult decisions and forced into situations, we know, you would have liked to avoid. It was a test and we are glad to say that you passed it.

"You found each other, found love again and learned to trust in each other's strength. You committed sins but every soul does that and we think you have done enough penance to make up for it.

"You will live the peaceful afterlife you deserve and you'll never have to use a weapon again. This is your heaven, you've earned it." With those last words the light faded away and Kenshin felt the weight of his sword lifted. When he looked down he noticed that the Sakabatou was vanishing. It was true; the time of fighting was finally over.

"Dad?" A voice asked from the gate. Kenshin looked up and met his son's eyes and for the first time, he saw the love that had been hidden in them.

Kenji hugged both his parents at the same time and shed the only tears that could fall in heaven, those of happiness.

"We are together," said Kenshin looking at everyone around him. These were the people he had learned to love and they were more than friends, they were his family. "And this time, it's forever."

- Owari

* * *

Notes:

[1] Soba: Japanese for Grandma, used only when a person is referring to his or her grandmother.

Sobu: Japanese for Grandpa, used only when a person is referring to his or her grandfather.

[2] It refers to events occurred on "Heavenly Lost" and the prologue of this fic.

Final Author Notes: I wanted to thank everyone that encouraged me during the time it took me to write this fic. Every mail or review I got was treasured and every critical comment helped me improve (even a little) my writing and my English.

For those of you who have been reading this since "Heavenly Lost": Thanks so much guys, I love you.

- Misanagi