Doesn't follow the time line, at all, but it does contain spoilers.

- -
- - -
- -

Follow your heart is such an impractical, ridiculous concept, because the heart likes to play tricks and change its mind and falter. Kagura doesn't trust her heart, because it is the part of her that is still connected to Naraku, that beats out her secrets and weaknesses into his palm, but she trusts her head and her instincts and Some Day.

Follow your heart is such impractical, ridiculous advice, but it's the only advice Kagura has, so she does.

- - -

Sesshoumaru has reached an impasse in his life.

His dilemma is this: Kagura is going to die. Thus far he's been a man of inaction, but doing nothing won't stop it from being done. Compassion, he knows, would kill her faster.

But then it wouldn't be painless.

- - -

I think, she tells him one afternoon, when the heat is so stifling the only way to escape it is in sleep, I've greatly overestimated you.

Sesshoumaru doesn't like talking to Kagura. He likens her to a corpse, and every word he spends on her is one more she's going to bury in her grave. Sesshoumaru doesn't like talking in general, because it's all such a waste. It's time she should be spending saving herself, instead of draping herself on his arm and waiting for the axe to fall. (She imagines on Naraku's neck. Sesshoumaru does not correct her, because that is useless, too.)

And the real truth of the matter is that she underestimated him. Sesshoumaru's kind it odd ways, and one of his ways is to make sure he expects nothing from anyone.

- - -

Kagura wants to live.

She wants it as badly as an animal caught in a trap wants it. She is gnaw-off-her-own-foot desperate for life.

But then, he explains, you would have no way to stand.

Kagura fancies Sesshoumaru could be just the one to carry her afterward.

You're wrong, he says. I already gnawed off my arm. I can't carry anyone.

But he wants to.

He never wanted to when he could.

Tenseiga throbs in place of his injury.

- - -

Kagura wants freedom. She wants the rolling, grassy plains; the bright morning sunlight; the gentle evening breeze; the birds; the trees; the harmony; the sugar-floss rose-tinted world.

Sesshoumaru thinks Kagura is in love with nonsense. He thinks it would be a horrible tragedy if she ever did get what she longed for.

He thinks she is more free than most could ever wish to be.

Kagura tells him he is free, and glares while she says it, as if it is his fault he is and she is not. And maybe, in her head, it is. He doesn't care. He's been blamed for worse. He's free to die, and free to wander homeless; free to mistakes, free to loss, free to hunger, free to disgust and disgrace and disappointment.

Kagura does not have her heart in her possession, so it does not weigh her down.

He envies that. A stone heart is heavier.

- - -

Afterward, they say he has changed for the better, and earned a better sword, and redemption, and a whole slew of things he probably shouldn't.

The truth is, he preferred himself before. Doesn't anyone realize, he wonders, putting a crack in an ice heart is another way of saying you broke it?

- - -

Kagura is free falling, in the end, and Sesshoumaru is getting really tired of being right. He couldn't catch her, even if he tried.

(He knows because he did try.)

Sesshoumaru doesn't blink often. He does everything a human does - he simply does it less and later. He loved like a human does, but it was too little too late.

In the scope of his life, the months he knew her would stack up to nothing against years of years. She was a blot of ink, not even worth a footnote. Blink and you would miss her.

When Kagura died it occurred to him that he was only just living.

He blinked.

And he missed her.

- - -