.:All of My Tomorrows:.
epilogue : all of my tomorrows
The rain pelted the ground and threw specks of mud and grime onto her kimono and tabi, coating them. The grave was exactly as she remembered it, save for the widening of the tree as it grew next to it. Not one stone had been moved and Kagome silently suspected that one of the villagers, most likely Kaede, regularly maintained the grave.
She knelt in front of the grave carefully, mindful of the slippery mud and her delicate condition. The rain streamed off the top of her umbrella as she leaned slightly forward, splashing even more mud onto her, but she didn't mind. Her thoughts were too full of bittersweet memories of days long past to care about such trivial things.
Kagome reached into the folds of her haori and pulled out a neatly folded piece of parchment sealed with wax. She placed the letter on her lap and bit her lip. She spent most of the night writing that letter and now as she knelt in front of Inuyasha's grave it felt horribly inadequate. Still, her husband was waiting and she didn't want to press his patience too far.
Her husband told her that the only way she would be able to purge herself of her lingering feelings of grief and guilt was to simply ask for forgiveness, even though he made it quite clear that he felt such an act was totally unnecessary. Kagome knew he was right. She had to make amends with Inuyasha, even if her efforts were impossible for him to receive. It was the only way she knew to let go of the past completely. Knowing that, she could not help but to feel foolish asking for forgiveness for something she knew in her heart had to happen.
It was destiny, pure and simple. How do you ask forgiveness for something that was destined to happen? There was no denying fate. She had experienced far too much in her lifetime to deny providence. Even so, the same questions haunted her: why couldn't she simply let her grief and guilt go? Why does that small piece of her heart cling to the past to fervently?
She could only assume that the reason she held onto the past so tightly was due to the fact the past was as much her present as the present was her present. Midoriko was of the past, but had existed within her in the present. A small part of Kikyou had also existed within her and she, too, was of the past. Kagome lived in a time that she perceived as the past, though everyone she loved saw it as the present. What they saw as the future was the present in her mind. Time had somehow lost its depth and power to completely numb the pain. The events of the past still felt as powerful today as they had the moment they occurred.
"Inuyasha," she said finally, her voice a low whisper barely heard over the sound of the rain. "It's been a long time, hasn't it?" She smiled a bit, the expression revealing some of her pain before she continued. "I've been thinking of you a lot lately… especially after I found out I was pregnant."
Kagome paused as she rubbed her slightly swollen belly unconsciously. "You're going to be an uncle," her smile widened a bit as she pulled her haori tighter around her. The air felt crisp and clean, but the rain caused goose bumps to rise on her flesh, "but I didn't come here to tell you that."
She felt foolish, talking to herself while she kneeled in front of an alter of smooth stones, but she needed to say her peace. With a deep breath, she began again. "I… I wrote you a letter," she admitted somewhat sheepishly. "I don't know if you can hear me or if you even care anymore… but I care. I was going to just leave it here… with you, but I think I should read it to you because I won't…" she trailed off as her throat tightened, "I won't be coming back here anymore."
Kagome broke the wax seal, unfolded the parchment with her free hand, and smoothed the letter on her lap in one long, exaggerated motion as she regained her composure. "I know its kind of cliché, but writing helps me to sort out my thoughts, you know?" She shifted her weight as she lifted the letter and cleared her throat.
"Today marks five years since the day I first met you.
"I have been thinking of you a lot lately and have wanted to express myself to you, but I didn't know where to begin. Even now, I can't think of how to say what I want to say so please forgive me if I don't make much sense."
Kagome smirked at the marker of stones who stared coldly back at her. "That was kind of a dumb thing to say, wasn't it?" she asked self-mockingly with a wide grin, "Let me remind you, Inuyasha, that I was up pretty late last night writing this."
Her smiled faltered after a moment and she cleared her throat once more before holding the letter up again, "I have felt full of guilt since the day you passed on. I think of you everyday and feel grief and remorse over you because of your death. I realize now that what happened had to happen, but knowing that in my head is a lot different than knowing that in my heart. After all, it is because of me that you are dead. That knowledge fills me with guilt, but I am also ashamed because of my own cowardice while you were alive.
"I was always afraid to tell you my feelings because I was afraid of rejection. I knew Kikyou was first in your heart, but I was always afraid to hear you say it. I was afraid to learn that you only saw me as Kikyou's replacement, or that you thought of me only as a friend and 'shard detector.'"
Kagome paused, feeling suddenly uncertain if she should read the next sentence aloud. She knew her husband was nearby and listening. He'd been gracious enough to take her here upon her insistence, rain or shine, and she didn't want to hurt him… but this was something she had to get off her chest, too. She stole a deep breath and plunged forward, "The truth is, Inuyasha, I loved you and I miss you… and I will always mourn for you."
The rest of the letter came out in a rush, "I wanted to die when Sango told me about your death and my role in it. I never left your side after they buried you. I could not bring myself to leave you. I think I will always feel guilt over what happened and sincerely, I am sorry. Nothing I can say or do will ever make up for what happened. I can only pray that you are at peace now, you and Kikyou both.
"Shippou is growing fast." Kagome continued with a smile, "You wouldn't be able to recognize him if you saw him now. I often catch him saying or doing something that reminds me of you and it fills me with bittersweet memories. He misses you very much.
"Last I heard, Sango and Miroku were married. They make a living exorcising youkai and they now live in the southern part of Japan. They have one son with a second one on the way. Unfortunately, Miroku is as flirtatious as ever so Sango has her hands full, but I know they are happy.
"As for me, my heart has found a place where it can finally know peace. It took me a long time to reach this point. I lived in the past for nearly two years. I kept refusing to let you go or to allow myself to admit that I had fallen in love again with someone you consider to be an enemy. I hated the fact that I gave your sword to your brother, but I hope you will believe me when I tell you that it was something I had to do.
"The true reason I am writing you tonight is to say my final goodbye. I cannot keep feeling this guilt and regret. I have a new life now and I owe it to my husband and my baby to put the past in the past. Believe me when I tell you that I have found my soul mate. Sesshoumaru fills my heart with unimaginable love and joy and I live to do the same for him. He completes me and I am thankful to be the one he chose to be the mother of his children.
"I know you and Sesshoumaru never understood each other very well while you were alive, and my heart breaks knowing what you both missed out on, but I believe you two will meet each other again. I hope when that time comes, you both will be able to mend old wounds and love each other, as family should.
"I resisted the urges of my heart because I did not want to betray you, but I cannot deny what I feel and I cannot continue to hurt Sesshoumaru and my unborn child by holding onto my guilt. I have promised Sesshoumaru my heart, body and soul for the rest of my life, for all of my tomorrows. He is my mate, and I am his. I hope you can understand this.
"Until we see each other again,
She sat for a long moment, staring down at the letter as she reread it before lowering the umbrella to fold the parchment and place it under one of the stone grave markers. Kagome stood and pushed a wet lock of hair off of her face as the watched the rain saturate the paper and cause the ink to run off of the page and soak into the earth. She wasn't certain that visiting his grave one last time would ease her heart, but somehow it did. It felt good to say all those things aloud, even if the person she wanted to say them to couldn't hear her.
Kagome knew it was time to go when she felt the presence of her husband behind her. She knew he didn't understand her need to make amends this way, but he still respected that desire. It never ceased to amaze her how patient her husband was. She never realized the depth of his resignation until after they bonded and that depth continually surprised and delighted her.
"Are you ready?"
Kagome stepped toward Sesshoumaru and nodded to him as he took the umbrella from her hand. He moved both umbrellas to one hand and pulled her toward him with the other, embracing her tightly.
She snuggled against him and breathed in his scent. "Thank you," she murmured.
"Do you feel better?"
His eyes softened as he leaned down to kiss her delicately on her forehead, then more deeply on her lips. She returned the kiss eagerly as she held onto him tighter, enjoying their brief moment of intimacy. She felt him smile a split second before he bit her lower lip playfully and gave her one more kiss.
"Let's go home."