A/N: Those of you familiar with my typical Sessh/Rin writing style will understand.

Against All Hope

Rin couldn't remember when she'd first laid eyes on him, only that she instantly thought him handsome.

No, handsome was too tame a word. Handsome was for that boy with the freckles and square chin. This tall daiyokai lord, who looked more like a young god than a dog-demon, was beautiful.

She was a woman of seventeen summers now, she knew that much and this was the man she wanted. Rin fiddled with a loose thread on the cushion where she knelt. Lord Sesshomaru had finally called for an audience with her alone.

The soft whisper of the opening and closing of the shoji screen announced his arrival, but the breathtaking appearance of his unrivaled splendor commanded Rin's full attention and held it captive.

Sesshomaru was mesmerizing to say the least. He barricaded himself in an icy demeanor, shrouded in his own silence. For months on going, Rin wished she could break that barrier. Yet there was something unnervingly sad misting over in those golden eyes.

Sesshomaru studied the flurry and fall of the sakura petals outside for a long time before returning to the fidgeting girl-woman before him. She blinked at him curiously in that way only Rin could and he had to look away again. He knew if he parted the curtain of raven black strains at the back of her head he'd find that despicable scar, a visible schism for the unseen one between him and his most cherished human now.

Rin tilted her head to the side as if the new angle would give her a fresh vantage point into Sesshomaru's thoughts. He was kneading his brow. Why? Were words always so difficult for him? She couldn't remember. She trouble recalling a lot actually. Still, the last memories Rin had were crystal clear – wolves chasing her and that man, the same one seated before her, at the forefront of her thoughts; she had been hoping he'd protect her. The next thing she knew she was awake, but not in the forest any more. When she started asking about the wolves a little green imp informed her it had been many years since then and how could she be so stupid still?

Then the princely demon was at her side. Perhaps he saw the recognition in her eyes because his expression melted to relief. Rin remembered smiling brightly at that.

Now, still waiting for Sesshomaru to utter even two words to her, Rin pondered if she should have tried to play that card a little longer. Would Sesshomaru have become more fond of her then? No, by the second day the charade was rendered transparent, soon everyone knew the fall from the spooked mare had damaged more than just Rin's skull.

The past few months she tried connecting with all the memories the other villagers had to share with her, but none of it felt real. Certainly not as real as the growing urge she had to seek out the enigmatic daiyokai. But he seemed uncomfortable sharing with her. Did he honestly think she would still want to be lost in the past? Here they both were and she had a clean slate of memory to work with. Why did he skirt her advances?

Then again, she was in his home today. Maybe he was finally ready to let go as well.

"I suppose you are wondering why I brought you here."

Rin quickly looked up. He was talking at last. "Yes, my lord."

"Come searching for me no more."

"Are you so afraid of love?"

"I fear nothing," Sesshomaru said flatly. It was true for he currently confronted his worst nightmare. He stood, the meeting was over. "You may take Ah – the dragon back home." Rin had named the endearing beast-of-burden. This female didn't know the left head from the right. "Leave."

"No." A token's defiance.

Sesshomaru gave her only his back as he waited for her to depart. His patience crumbled at the sudden intrusion of hands upon his person, touching his mane.

Rin cried out in terror when the formerly fetching daiyokai whirled on her with blood red eyes. A fear etched into her features where none had ever crossed before – never when she knew Sesshomaru anyway.

He scoffed mirthlessly. "You are not my child but a simple woman. You can lust for me, you can fear me, but you cannot love me unconditionally as you once did. You are not Riβ€”" With the discipline of centuries, Sesshomaru silenced himself. No matter who she was, he couldn't bring himself to ripping away this last shred of identity.

Could she still be Rin?

Sesshomaru's tapered fingers unfurled, reaching out perhaps for one last moment of reassurance. A final try at recovering hope. What he saw mar her face made him recoil.

"Very well, then. Stay."

Rin didn't have time to thank him for the sudden generosity, already Sesshomaru was enveloped in a blazing white aura and streaking over the western horizons with only his memories for company.

He'd lost Rin at last, and unfortunately not to a death that would have perserved her self. Today Sesshomaru only said goodbye to a stranger.