Title: Sakura
Author: Nicluv1787
Prompt: Existentialism Card # 50 Long Forbidden Love
Song: "Sakura Sakura" by Rin

Rating: K
Genre: Romance, Angst

Characters: Young Kaede / Inuyasha

Word Count: 1,353 (including lyrics)
Summary: Kaede visit's Inuyasha on his first anniversary of being sealed to the tree of ages.

A/N: Thanks to Sunsingergirl for looking this over for me. *hugs*

'Beneath the cold and the blooming cherry blossoms

I want to see you once again'

Spring had come again, delicate petals of pink and white dusting the ground surrounding the village. The weather was light, and the sun warmed Kaede's skin as she slipped away from the village for the afternoon.

Since the death of her sister Kikyou a year ago, things had changed for her. She'd been taken in by the village headman, and a new miko had come to take Kikyou's place; Kaede herself was studying beneath her, and, one day, Kaede would be the village miko.

Knowing it was the anniversary or her sister's death, she'd been given the afternoon off to pay her respects. Though she'd visited her sister's grave many times since her passing, Kaede had yet to revisit the spot where Kikyou had taken her last breath. The breeze picked up, pressing her on; it was as if it urged her to the forest edge, where Inuyasha was trapped in eternal sleep. As she reached the edge of the forest, the hairs on the back of her neck began to rise, a tingling sensation prickling at her scalp. Then she saw him pinned to the tree, his features peaceful. Nothing stirred around him; though the wind blew around the through trees, nothing seemed to touch him.

It was as if time stood still for Inuyasha.

'A crowd of people like an array of numbers

stepping firmly on something, hurrying forward

forgotten hopes and dreams in the midst of the crowd

the smile of somebody who was by my side'

Though she tried to forget him – tried to hate him for what had happened - she couldn't. She knew Inuyasha; he had loved her sister, and Kikyou had loved him in return. She had hoped he'd be her brother one day.

She wanted to believe that her sister hadn't died in vain, but she also couldn't believe Inuyasha could betray Kikyou like that.

For one year, he'd been pinned to that tree. For one year, she'd been utterly alone - without Kikyou, without Inuyasha. It was as if they'd both left her behind. Tears pricked at her eyes, but she held them back, instead dropping to the ground. She sat with her feet pulled up beneath her, studying his features.

She'd chosen today specifically to visit, to answer her unspoken questions. The wind made a delicate dance around her, pulling her ebony strands from her pony tail.

After a time, she knew there were no answers, but she wanted to be by his side today. She didn't want him to spend eternity alone.

'The sunbathed wind flutters

Its warm breath colors my cheeks

beneath the cold and the blooming cherry blossoms

I want see you once again'

Sun filtered through the trees as she passed the afternoon watching him, her mind wandering to better days - days when she'd almost had a family again. A song came to mind; it was one her sister had taught her many years ago. It was a song about cherry blossoms.

Even though she didn't have Kikyou's gift for singing, and she wasn't nearly as elegant and beautiful as her sister had been, she thought it was a fair tribute to Inuyasha. Maybe, somehow, it would make its way into his dreams.

She finished her song and fell silent, a gentle blush gracing her cheeks. She imagined singing the song to Inuyasha - had he been awake to hear it - and her heart beat a little faster. Such foolish thoughts were not becoming of a miko in training, but if she were ever to fall in love, she would want it to be with someone like Inuyasha.

'Since then, many seasons pass

how much of an adult were you able to become?

so much that the freedom you wished for should have been placed in your hands?'

Years passed, and Kaede grew from a naïve young girl to a fully fledge miko. Every year, when the cherry blossoms bloomed on the anniversary of Kikyou's death and Inuyasha's sealing, she'd return to that tree and sit beneath it, singing a song that grew over time. It was once a simple song about the changing of spring, but it changed into a song about a love that could never have been - and a young girl who waited on a sealed hanyou.

It was childish and foolish, and she tried to deny it. Over the years, though, she'd grown to love Inuyasha, more than a brother, and more the way she would have felt about a sweetheart, had she been an average girl.

She only allowed herself to indulge herself in these silly feelings once a year, as the cherry blossoms bloomed, and, after an afternoon spent longing for a love she would never have, she would return to her life.

But, for one day a year, she was a girl in love.

'Your reflection in the mirror is averting its eyes

It's warm breath colors my cheeks

beneath the cold and the blooming cherry blossoms

I want see you once again'

Ten years passed, then twenty, and then thirty. A head full of dreams soon became filled with the particular nature of a wise, thoroughly seasoned woman. Despite that she returned every year, always to the same place where she could let her heart roam free - where she'd allowed herself to love for once. Though he could never return the feeling - and she knew he never would - she still sang to him each year as cherry blossoms scattered through the village. Each song changed with the time, to tell the story of her life; each year, her voice became a little weaker, and it was a little harder to sing, but she still sang all the same.

'People are sad creatures

even though we cry out for happiness

really, the only important things are memories

abandoning them brings tears to my eyes'

After nearly fifty years of being sealed to the tree Inuyasha was freed by her sister's reincarnation, Kagome. It was bittersweet to lose that connection she'd spent fifty years making, though Inuyasha held no knowledge of her devotion. It still lifted her heart to see Kagome and him together. They were meant to be, and she was an old woman now. Foolish ideas of forbidden love and songs of romance no longer appealed to her; she was happy for them. When the anniversary came around again, however, she couldn't help but sing the song she'd sang for nearly fifty years, under her breath as she travelled around the village doing her work.

Spring comes, summer will pass, the sun will set

autumn lives, winter will tell, the sun will rise

after this and before this, it doesn't change

because at any time, many times, I can smile'

After fifty-five years, her world was in place. Naraku had been defeated, Kagome was back for good, and Inuyasha and Kagome had already begun a family. Kaede was happy. She'd lived a long life, and she'd experienced many things. It was her time to go, she knew as she lay on her cot inside her hut, surrounded by friends. Kagome held her hand, stroking it lovingly. Miroku and Sango sat back, straight-faced, quiet words exchanged behind their hands. There was no hiding it from her; she knew her time was short. She looked to the doorway and saw that Inuyasha was standing there – and, behind him, the cherry blossoms fell. How funny, that it would be today. Breathing was difficult, but the old tune came naturally. She started out slow, her voice a mere thread. Tears were in the eyes of everyone around her, and Inuyasha…

Inuyasha moved closer to her, his eyes dancing with an unreadable emotion as she continued the song - their song. Then he locked his golden gaze with hers, and a moment of understanding passed between them. As the song came to an end, so did her life, dwindling slowly like a dying candle. She passed with a smile on her lips, knowing that he'd heard her singing in his dreams after all.

'The sunbathed wind flutters

It's warm breath colors my cheeks

beneath the cold and the blooming cherry blossoms

I want see you once again'