A/N: One-Shot, basically I wrote this fan fiction ten minutes after finishing the book...Hope you like it. Reviews are loved!

Disclaimer: Obviously, I do not own any of the characters or the book etc.

A cool mist hung thickly in the air, floating slowly through the sky as if Mother Nature herself understood the solemnity of the days impending meeting. Already a small sliver of the sun was peering out from behind the horizon, casting a brilliantly hued sunrise throughout the early morning landscape. All was quiet.

A woman of perhaps forty or so, dressed in an elaborate kimono of deep, formal colors, walked swiftly towards a small teahouse. Though she carried an air of grace and beauty wherever she went, this morning there was a small flaw in her composure. There seemed to be no confidence left in her soul, she looked the part of a defeated soldier, who had managed to escape a brutal battle himself, but knew that many he cared about had not been so lucky.

Inside the teahouse sat an elderly man with an unreadable expression on him disfigured face. With the ease of much practice, he poured himself a glass of sake, using only one arm. Silently, he waited.

As the door of the teahouse creaked open, Nobu looked up, but made no movement to stand. Nevertheless, Sayuri kneeled and politely greeted him. Still, Nobu made no move.

Silently, Sayuri took a seat beside him. She had long feared the moment she would first speak to him after the ceremony that had bound the Chairman to herself, but had always known that it would eventually come. Half the night Sayuri had lay awake, thinking over how she could possibly put into words all she needed to convey to him, but the moment she entered the room, the entire well-planned speech fled from her head. Instead, she found herself lost for words.

"Nobu-san, I…" she began "…well…you see…" Sayuri winced as she spoke, knowing how ridiculous she must sound. "…I came to apologize. I know that no words can really change things, but somehow I felt that I must anyway."

"Don't." Nobu spoke gruffly.

"Then why did you agree to meet me here?" When she received no answer, Sayuri continued. "I came because I know what it feels like to want something you cannot have. I know that feeling all to well. I also know the feeling that it is only the hope that you will someday have what is currently denied from you is all that keeps you alive. But, perhaps best of all I know the feeling of despair when you realize that all your hopes are gone and that they never will be realized. I know that that is what I have done to you and for this I apologize. Sometimes I feel that I should have gone along with it, accepted a life that I never would enjoy in order to fulfill your longings. But other times I realize that I don't think I ever could have accepted this life, and eventually you would have come to realize this as well. And then I ask myself if what I did was terribly selfish, and the only honest answer I can give myself to this is yes, it was. I know it was. I think about how I would feel had the Chairman done to me what I have done to you and I realize how horrible I am to have done this." At this point Sayuri broke off as a single tear ran down her cheek. "I'm sorry, I am rambling." She said at last. Now, she looked up into Nobu's eyes to see rage and despair flashing through them. But when he spoke he was calm.

"I swore to myself that I would never speak with you again."

"Then why have you come here?"

Looking into his eyes, all at once Sayuri understood the answer to her question. It had been there all along, glaringly obvious staring her right in the face; she knew what sounds would come out of his mouth even before he parted his lips.

"Hope." He said simply.

Hope is a wonderful and terrible thing. It can keep one alive even in the most desolate situation, yet when smashed it can lead one to the most awful place. But in that moment Sayuri realized that hope is impossible to crush, no matter how hard it is beaten. It remains somewhere in the back of the mind waiting for its chance to soar, even if that chance may never come.

Sayuri could see that Nobu knew that she understood. She could also see that this little part of him wanted her to stay, wanted to talk to her even if the rational part of his mind knew that the conversation would lead absolutely nowhere. But Sayuri knew that she would not be able to stay, she could not make herself, it was to painful.

With tears glistening in her eyes, Sayuri gave Nobu a small, sad nod and rose to walk out the door. Just as she was turning the handle she heard a voice.

"Wait." She turned. Nobu stood and held out a small, wrapped parcel. "Goodbye." He said softly. They both knew that this was the last time that they would meet.

Later, as Sayuri sat in her room, oblivious to the tears streaming down her face, her hands pulled a dried branch of cherry blossoms from the smooth satin that Nobu had wrapped his gift in. Suddenly, Sayuri felt a as if a heavy weight had been lifted from her chest. Nobu had not forgiven her, he never could, but she knew that he had accepted the fact that she would never be his, and would move on with his life. Still, she knew that a little fragment of hope would always remain in the back of his mind, a small longing. That was okay though, for hope is all that keeps us alive.