Author's Note: Spoilers for Chapters 536-537 in the manga.

Blurb: A series of interconnected drabbles, exploring the demise of Kagome and Inuyasha's relationship, and the birth of a new, completely unexpected love. Time may wear down mountains, but a distant promise of hope always lies in the future. /SessKag/

A Distant Promise – Drabble #1

It was time.

Sango smiled thinly – she never had been good at letting go of those she considered family. Kirara chirped happily. Miroku sagely promised to write down their history, telling the story of Naraku's treachery and defeat for ages to come.

Kagome tearfully hugged each of her friends, lingering longest at Shippo's side.

It might be that all of this heartache was unnecessary. Perhaps using the Jewel of Four Souls would not cause the Bone Eater's Well to close, after all. But just in case, she and Inuyasha had agreed to say farewell now, to ensure they had no regrets.

Oh, but leaving would be hard! Saying goodbye to Shippo was especially heart-rending. For over a year, through thick and thin, the fox-kit had traveled at her side, and she truly thought of him as a son. At first, he had cowered behind her leg when a fight broke out, tiny claws pricking through her socks and scraping at her calves. Gradually though, he had grown braver, trying new tricks and techniques against even the strongest-looking enemies. But he had always defended her first and foremost – he was loyal. He had been a part of their little merry band of travelers longer than any other, save Inuyasha. And when she first held him in her arms, something had melted inside her chest, leaving behind warm and fuzzy feelings. It just felt right, his small form against hers. Kagome had never been a very good babysitter, and she often had grown cross with her little brother Souta, but not her little kitsune… Shippo…

It's not fair! Kagome moaned inside her mind, trying to put on a brave face for the others. Why can't Shippo travel through the Well too? He would love the modern era – so many opportunities for mischief…

Her deep attachment to her adoptive son was almost enough to swing the balance, but not quite. In her heart, she knew that Shippo would be fine with Sango and Miroku. And even if she lingered in the Feudal Era with all her friends, Shippo was a youkai – demons aged more slowly than humans. She would be old and grey, long before Shippo tied his first topknot or smiled at a girl and really meant it… It was selfish, yes, but Kagome wanted him to remember her as a strong, independent woman. So she was leaving him in the care of her two best-friends, and he would protect the villagers that she left behind.

Besides, she knew she would miss her family, if she chose to stay in the past. Souta had been without a big sister for too long – it was time to return to normal life.

"Someday, when you meet a little girl named Kagome," she whispered to Shippo, too softly for the others to overhear, "Promise you'll look after me, like I did you."

His bright-green eyes swam with emotion, but the young kitsune only nodded and hardened his resolve. When Inuyasha and the others had gone to fight the final battle against Naraku, he had been asked to stay and defend Kaede's village. But instead, when Jaken had needed a ride toward the blackened orb in the sky where the final fight was taking place, he, Jaken, and Kohaku had flown toward the battleground on the back of the two-headed dragon, Ah-Un. He had been derelict in his duty and exposed the villagers to danger. This time – he would do better. With brief smile, he stood as straight and tall as he could, clenching his fists furiously to avoid clinging to Kagome's skirt and begging her to remain.

One day – if he was strong and brave and clever enough – they would meet again.