What I love most about rivers is:
You can't step in the same river twice
The water's always changing, always flowing
But people, I guess, can't live like that
We all must pay a price
To be safe, we lose our chance of ever knowing
What's around the riverbend
Waiting just around the riverbend

To Rin, being left in the care of Grandmother Kaede by her precious Lord was a truly sad moment. She was eleven years old, and Lord Sesshoumaru had declared that her scent had changed. Abruptly he had turned and brought the small company to the village. A brief exchange passed between himself and the priestess, and Rin was left behind when her Lord left with Jaken and Ah-Un.

Rin had run after him, asking when he would return. Jaken had sharply reprimanded her that Lord Sesshoumaru had no reason to return at all, that she was a foolish little human and the others like her in the village would suitably care for her now.

"When you are older Rin," Sesshoumaru had answered, once the toad had finished. "When you have learned that which you will need to learn." Then he turned once again from her, and continued into the tempting shadows of the forest beyond the village.

"I grow older every day my Lord," she whispered to where he had stood moments before. "I shall learn quickly then." Rin dragged her feet, however, as she returned to the hut of the old priestess.

I look once more
Just around the riverbend
Beyond the shore
Where the gulls fly free
Don't know what for
What I dream the day might send
Just around the riverbend
For me
Coming for me

She felt so confined within the village. It was not like the times when she rode Ah-Un. Sometimes she even got to fly on his back. Rin dreamed of the day Lord Sesshoumaru would return for her.

I feel it there beyond those trees
Or right behind these waterfalls
Can I ignore that sound of distant drumming
For a handsome sturdy husband
Who builds handsome sturdy walls
And never dreams that something might be coming?
Just around the riverbend
Just around the riverbend

Rin was thirteen now, and the girls she had spent the last two-and-a-half years with were beginning to take notice of the boys in the village. The boys were starting to notice back as well. She saw one older boy building a house, his father helping, but she knew that there was nothing wrong with the one that the family currently lived in.

A week after the hut was built, Rin saw her first wedding. After the ceremony, one of the girls nudged her and whispered that in just two years, the village would be coming to their weddings.

The very idea of marrying a village boy scared Rin terribly, and she ran desperately out to the forest edge as the celebrations began. She heard the drums and the singing and even so far away could feel the heat of the bonfire that had been built.

"I'm older now Lord Sesshoumaru," whispered the girl-woman into the night. "I've learned the things I need to know. Come back for me soon."

The only answer from the darkened forest was the whisper of the summer breeze and the chirp of insects.

I look once more
Just around the riverbend
Beyond the shore
Somewhere past the sea
Don't know what for ...
Why do all my dreams extend
Just around the riverbend?
Just around the riverbend ...

It was winter when Rin turned fifteen at last. Through the previous summer and autumn months, a boy had been watching her, and she was not comfortable with it. Her dreams were not filled with the life that the village offered her. She had no want to be a labouring mother in a dirt hut, caring for children by day and being struck into by a work-wearied farmer husband by night.

That is not to say that she did not was love or a home or children, but she recalled her childhood fondly. According to Kaede, she recalled it too fondly. This, Rin privately conceded, might have some truth to it. That her Lord still figured in her dreams every night was something she felt to nee to conceal. That the nature of the dreams had changed over her time in the village, however, she kept to herself.

Rin could no longer think of her Lord as merely her protector, guardian and saviour. She loved him. She loved him dearly and deeply, living her life as one given to her by him, for it was. Any life he offered to her, she would gladly accept, for she would be near to him again.

But the village boy continued to watch her.

Should I choose the smoothest course
Steady as the beating drum?
Should I marry Kocoum?
Is all my dreaming at an end?
Or do you still wait for me, Dream Giver
Just around the riverbend?

When the summer came, the boy approached her as she stood where the river met the forest, carrying some of her favourite flowers in his hand. He should not have picked them. Rin barely concealed her distaste for his act. They were her favourite because she had picked them as a child, and Lord Sesshoumaru had allowed her to bestow them upon his brow in a wreath, on more than one occasion.

No, the boy should not have picked those flowers.

He said that he had asked Kaede if he might be allowed to marry Rin, and he held out the flowers to her.

Rin ignored the bouquet, inquiring as to Kaede's response. Mentally, she smiled at how like Lord Sesshoumaru she sounded then, demanding an answer so imperiously.

He faltered. "She said it wasn't up to her to give say yes on your behalf," the boy answered, the question of why this was so clearly laced into his face and voice.

"That is correct, it isn't," declared a voice from just within the shadow of the trees.

Rin's face lit as it hadn't in the past four years, stunning the boy who had picked flowers for her. He had never seen her smile like that, had never seen her whole face light up from within, had never seen her large brown eyes sparkle with delight and love the way they did now.

"My Lord Sesshoumaru!" she cried, clearly blissful to see him as he emerged from the trees, Jaken and Ah-Un just behind him. "Master Jaken and Ah-Un as well!" Rin exclaimed, moving a few steps forward herself at last.

"Rin! Impudent girl, what are you doing alone in the company of this human boy?" Jaken demanded.

"It was not my choice, Master Jaken," Rin replied, looking down further than she remembered needing to in the past to address the green retainer. "He is the one who sought me out and wishes to marry me, I have no inclination to his company."

Sesshoumaru looked over at the boy at this exchange. The boy wisely moved cautiously backwards.

"You do not wish to marry this boy?" Sesshoumaru asked, his golden, distasteful gaze on the boy in question.

"No my Lord," Rin answered simply. She remembered well her Lord's dislike for foolish prattling. The frequency with which he would beat and threaten Jaken for such still in her treasured memories of her days in his company and care.

"You do not wish to marry any of the other boys in the village?" His golden eyes were upon her now, and there was no distaste, but just a questioning.

"No my Lord," she said again, frowning. To marry any of them would be terrible, she was sure. They would never leave the village themselves except maybe to fight, and certainly if she married she would never be allowed to leave.

"Do you perhaps wish to follow me then?" Rin prayed she wasn't imagining the hope laced in his golden eyes as he asked her that. He showed no other sign of anticipating a particular answer from her.

"For as long as you will allow it my Lord!" Her answer drew one of her Lord's rare smiles, and Rin's heart thumped in her chest at the sight. It had been so long since she had seen him, and she loved him so much.

"Come then."

Rin resisted the urge to embrace him for those two simple words. He would likely not appreciate it. Nevertheless, her smile broadened further and when Ah-Un knelt before her she climbed on without a moment's hesitation. There was nothing important she was leaving in the village that she did not know how to replace, and the only one that was precious to her had finally come for her.

She was surprised when, rather than taking the lead on foot, Lord Sesshoumaru straddled Ah-Un behind her, reaching around her to take the reins himself. Jaken just managed to gain the beast's tail before Lord Sesshoumaru ordered Ah-Un into the air.

"How I've missed this," Rin sighed in delight as she relished in the feel of Ah-Un below her and the presence of Lord Sesshoumaru behind her.

From the air, the party followed the river below until the sun began to set, and Ah-Un descended to a grassy clearing.