Et Cetera

Disclaimer: I don't own Okami. I really wish I did.

Warnings: Pure speculation

AN: I'm a little vague on canon in parts, so please just go with it. Last line was pseudo-borrowed from Edmondia Dantes Redux.

He doesn't cry when he first learns of her fate. A vibrant and beautiful and benevolent goddess reduced to a stone statue. Little more than a wolf carving in some tiny village in the middle of nowhere.

There are no tears then. Just a deep and aching sorrow. A strike that lands true and not the least bit shallow. Reaching right to the heart and beyond. Going down so far that it spears through flesh and bone to the spirit beneath.

He knows it's only a matter of time. She'll be back; she promised. And she always keeps her promises. He just has to wait. To be patient. But it's hard. So incredibly hard. A different sort of agony as he goes back day after day and still attempts to free her.

And slowly, desperation grows. Alongside it is the fear that she'll never revive. That they were both wrong. That this is her end. Her final fate. All she'll ever be from now on. His heart breaks as he gazes at that lupine face frozen in rock and stone, and he hemorrhages inside at the knowledge that this is his fault. That his prophecy sent her to her doom.

And his soul is still bleeding when the months slip into years that fade into decades. But she doesn't waken. She stays the same no matter what he tries or how much power he pours into her stone form. Until all he can do is kneel at her feet – her paws. And stare up in abject misery and failure and despair.

But still, he doesn't weep.

Then, just before the centennial of her loss, she wakes. Bursts free from her rocky prison like no time has passed at all. Elegant and vivacious and brilliant. But more importantly, alive.

And yet… yet…

When he finally goes to see her, when he can finally sneak away, there's no spark of recognition. No happy reunion. No pleased bark or lick to the face. No pleasure in a spar gone well. Nothing at all.

A hundred years isn't terribly long for a god, but she doesn't even remember his name. She doesn't recognize him; he can see it in those lupine eyes. In the stance of her canine body and the swish of her paintbrush tail. In her raised hackles and the bristling of her fur. More wolf than woman. And still so painfully familiar that all he wants to do his throw his arms around her neck.

But she doesn't know him. She doesn't remember him at all.

Not the tea they drank gazing out at the meadows of Takamagahara. Nor brushing her luxurious fur or tweaking the tips of her pointed ears. Not their laughter and dancing through the flowers. Nor listening to him play his flute for hours. Not even the touch of his fingers on her hand that said all the words he couldn't voice.

She doesn't recall any of it.

Worse than desertion for a century is being forgotten. As if he doesn't matter. As if their time together meant nothing. As if all she was to him, all he hopes that he was to her, never even existed.

He can't get away from her fast enough. Isn't even certain what he says or how he manages the façade of calm as he flees to his headquarters in the city. Doesn't know how he gets to his room without anyone seeing. All he knows is the press of the wall at his back as he slides to the floor in an undignified heap. The burning of his eyes. The desert in his throat. The sword that has pierced his spirit and then ripped back out.

And once the tears start, he can't make them stop. Can't fight the sobs that wrack his body. Can't do anything but curl under the weight pressing down on his soul and put his head in his hands.

"Amaterasu," he murmurs and feels like dying.

Ever Hopeful,