To Dust We Return

Genre: Tragedy, Romance
Rating: PG
Time Frame: Sure ain't cannon
Characters: Sesshoumaru, Kagome

Summary: On painfully mortal days, when her hair was winter swept and her tone was frail tired, she asks you to remember her forever.

Notes: I started out writing a fluffy fun follow up to 'Foot in the Door', and then my muse quite violently decided that she wasn't in the mood for fluff. Actually, she's in the mood for angst of 'The Notebook' proportion, minus the necessary therapeutic Ben 'n Jerrys. Sheesh, but if she isn't a vindictive little thing. That, and she's on a second person POV kick. Dunno why, I've given up trying to figure her out . . .

To Dust We Return
by Mira-Jade

On some days you can forget that she was mortal.

There had always been such a shimmer of power about her - a faint pink glow that hugged her form in the corners of your senses and manifested itself as electricity on the too warm summer air. It had been the first thing you ever really noticed about her. A young thing of barely fifteen, the loudly arching waves of her power sung out a bright cadence from next to your brother's more earthly tones. You had actually felt small next to her – for while you were stronger in practice, she was stronger in soul, and it is that dwarfing that would forever draw you too her like the moon around the Earth. Years later, when her powers were more grounded and tempered, and her eyes shone with wisdom as well as flame, it was hard to believe that she could ever even begin to fade.

But she did.

Oh yes, you knew what would eventually happen when you gave your heart away to a mortal. She knew what it would mean to accept that gift(burden) you gave her. You had known then, but in those years it was easy to ignore.

As time went by, it was impossible not to see. The years were kind to her at first – manifesting only in the calmer twinkle in her eyes and the fluttering of silver at her temples. She had been slightly slower when you crossed the country together, and you took to carrying her more often than not, glad to feel her slight warmth through the empty weight of your armor.

Then, one day you noticed that less of raven black and more of snow silver shimmered in her hair. She had laughed your observations off, and the sound broke on the early autumn wind. You could scent her fear on the breeze, and the long looks her mortal friends would give her ensured that you spent the rest of the day trying to put her mind at ease.

When her laughter showed in creases around her eyes and her hands shook from where she instructing her pupil(replacement) how to gather herbs, you finally acknowledged a fear that you both tried hard not to give voice to for so long.

So, on one day long in the making, when her hair was winter swept and her voice was tired(frail) she brokenly asked you to remember her forever.

Your entire body went cold, and something so suspiciously like fear flooded your veins at her words. It was an odd emotion, and you took a moment to draw strength from the numb chill it inflicted. One last shuddering breath passed, and still your words shattered. "Don't speak such foolishness," you try to be crisp, but it comes out broken.

A long sky escaped the Miko you now call your own. You try not to notice how it shakes in her lungs. "It is not foolishness," Kagome whispered.

You look at her long and hard then, studying the tears that had started to bead on her long lashes. You knew then that she needed this. In a way, you know that you did as well. So, you gathered her to you, and ignored the fact that she was so light and fragile in your hold. She was glass boned and paper skinned, and just a flick from you could tear her asunder.

So you grip her tighter.

She senses some of your pain as her own, and her time weathered hands stroked through your hair in a calming gesture. Your hands pass over her gently(greedily), and for all the world, you try to tell yourself that you are not memorizing her.

"I will never forget you," you swear to her on a clenched breath. The passion(desperation) in your voice surprises even you, and you can feel her shudder at the words. "You have forciably asserted your presence on me by now," he tried to modify. "However inconvenient, I daresay that I cannot be rid of you now."

She smiled softly, and you feel part of your task fulfilled when she swatted your shoulder playfully. "Cheeky jerk," she whispered affectionately.

Her amusement overwhelms her tears, and so you lean forward to bury your nose in her hair. Beneath the scent of fading winter and healer's herbs is a scent that is uniquely Kagome. You seek it now, and imprint it to memory for the long years ahead.

You both stay entwined like this until twilight dusts over the horizon. The dying sunlight painted her in shifting ribbons of flash and flame, giving it a golden(healthy) glow. For a fleeting moment you could pretend that she still has forever to spend with you.

The stars start to twinkle, splattering against the black of the oncoming night, and she sighed. "I'm sorry," she breathed on a whisper, and you stiffen at the words.

"Sorry?" you repeat.

She nodded, and hid her head in your chest. The move reminds you of something Rin would do when she was still a child, and you know that whatever her age, she was still such an innocent(child) at heart. On her next breath she offered an explanation, "I . . . I can spend the rest of my life with you. And I will - gladly. But the thing is . . . you can't spend the rest of your life with me. And I worry for what will happen to you after I'm gone," she ended on a shaking whisper.

It is the first time she has ever acknowledged her mortality in spoken words, and they knotted on the air between them, making it heavy in their lungs. You tried to grasp them past the lump that was growing in your throat.

"All that lies before you," you finally start on a fond(tired) sigh, "and still you worry for me?"

She smiled. "It's my job."

You are reminded why you love her in moments like these. The strength of her heart was ten times greater than any immortal you know – including yourself. How odd that such a flame should be surrounded by such a restrictive form. It isn't right that her sun and joy should fade so quickly while you live on detached and cynical.

Earlier on, you had convinced yourself that any time with her would be precious - sacred(enough). You had been convinced that you could blaze with her for a short time and then could go right back to flickering on slow and steady for eternity.

But that is no longer enough.

You need forever.

And it is the one thing that you cannot give her.

"I would give you forever, if I could," you whisper against her hair, and the sound of your defeat hung heavy on the air.

She sighed, long and slow. "I know," she whispered back. "I know."

In that moment you promise yourself that while she may not be flesh and blood by your side, she will be alive and whole within your thoughts. You could burn enough for the both of you, and carry her memory on through time – crinkled(weathered) but never faded(forgotten).

It will have to be enough.

Autumn came early that year. Winter lingered on for an unholy time, and when it left, she left you as well.

You knew it was coming, and you try your best not to fall in on yourself as she had begged you not too. It is hard, but by the time spring and summer thawed the ice from the forests you are strong enough to visit her grave for the first time.

You leave flowers(smiling daises and lacy white blooms) in a ridiculously human display of mourning.

But you promised her. That alone is enough for you to carry on the ritual yearly.

Forever, you had promised her.

And you had meant every word of it.