Author's Note: I don't like this story. I know that sounds odd, considering that I'm the author, but I don't like it. It makes me sad, and I don't like to be sad. But this idea came to me awhile ago, so I wrote it out, and I just happened to run across it again. I wrote it mainly because I've seen a lot of angles taken on this particular issue, but to the best of my knowledge I've never seen it dealt with in quite this way. There's probably a reason for that… (grin)
On a completely different note, I posted a piece of fanart from my story Good Dog at my DeviantArt account yesterday – the link is on my bio if you're interested.
I used to think often about what it would be like to say goodbye to them if the time ever came. I hoped it wouldn't, but I knew that it would most likely be unavoidable. I imagined a tearful scene by the well, tight, lingering hugs, and maybe even an impromptu kiss from Inuyasha in the heat of the moment. Or maybe we would say our goodbyes at Kaede's hut, and I would walk away slowly, glancing back several times until they were out of sight, and gradually feeling myself become removed from their world as I went.
Maybe it would be something more dramatic – maybe Inuyasha would run after Kikyo one too many times, and we would fight, and I would leave in a flurry of anger, vowing never to return, and this time keeping my promise. Or maybe it would come unexpectedly – we'd kill Naraku, purify the jewel, and all of a sudden I would find myself back in my time, and the well sealed, and I would sit by it every night and weep silently, all alone. Or maybe the night before I left, Inuyasha would profess his love for me, knowing that time was running out, and we would spend our last hours together locked in a passionate embrace.
It never occurred to me that things would play out as they did. When I left them for the last time, none of us had any idea that it was the last. Life was growing busier and busier on my side of the well, and my visits to the feudal era had gradually become shorter and less frequent – but nonetheless, when I left I had every intention of returning the next weekend. Something came up, and I wasn't able to make it, but I saw no harm in putting it off a few days until life settled down again. Inuyasha had stopped coming to retrieve me by then, having finally learned that I always came back eventually if he was patient enough.
A week became a month. A month became a year. Just a few more days, I thought, then I'll have a chance to go and apologize for being away so long.
I don't know when I realized that I was never going back, that I was never going to see them again. By the time I knew it, my life was already so separate from theirs that going back hadn't really been a possibility for a long time. I didn't belong there anymore.
I wondered how long it had taken Inuyasha to realize the same.
I never returned to the feudal era, and eventually that chapter of my life closed upon itself and took up its position on the tidy bookshelf of my memories. Occasionally I pull it out and feel the texture of the pages, marvel at how distinct its feeling has become from the life I live now. I feel nostalgia, but no longing – and occasionally I miss the longing. Because you can only truly long for something to which you feel connected.
I left the feudal era forever, one day – but I never said goodbye.
A/N: See what I mean? Depressing, right? I mean, there's just something so utterly sad about the idea of Kagome's time in the feudal era ending not with any sort of definitive event, but simply because she drifted away from them.