Because my heart shattered every time I read my own dang story, I wrote part two...
Once again, this can be interpreted as either father/daughter or husband/wife love. You decide.
Her grave was magnificent. It stood in the center of the slayer village, ready to stand there for eternity. Her descendants would not forget her face- it was forever carved into stone. I was still unsatisfied, for the stone resemblance did not laugh, did not say my name or title, and its ears did not hear my voice. Kohaku and his progeny repeatedly thanked me for having the memorial built. I was still unsatisfied.
Her sons sported her hair. Her daughters shared her eyes. Some even had the audacity to smile and smell and sound like her.
I finally understood why I held rage for Kohaku. He was with Rin when I was not. He, through the course of many years, had heard her laugh and sing more than I had. He received her flowers in my stead. He looked into her eyes more than I. He had shown her more love than I could fathom.
With one more look at Rin's stone likeness, I flew away from the slayer village. I wandered, recalling the days of her youth, when she followed me on my quest to defeat Naraku. My wanderings took me to Inuyasha's village.
Inuyasha was no longer my enemy. His human priestess had tamed and civilized him to a decent level. My brother was saddened of Rin's passage to the afterlife and quickly called his children and grandchildren to tell them the news as well. Many of my nieces and nephews had moved to the slayer village, but some of the quarter and one-eighth demons remained. Kazuto, Rin's son, and his family remained in the village, and he seemed the most upset. Kazuto was middle-aged now, and yet again reminded me of the fleeting life of humans. Kazuto, who turned out to be much like his gentle mother, stood next to my form and radiated a comforting aura. When I could take his likeness to his mother no longer, I left with little goodbyes.
Many years had passed by since the passing of my most beloved Rin when I came back to the slayer village. Her face was becoming blurred in my memory. Her laugh was no longer the forefront of my thoughts. I no longer felt pleasure when I smelt fresh flowers.
My Rin was fading.
I landed in front of her memorial in the dead of night. With my superior senses, I could easily see her elegantly clothed form and smiling stone face. I could smell the budding flowers that lined the stone centerpiece of the grown village, and sadness overcame me. I could not mourn her death before, with her husband and family at every side. I suppressed every thought of her passing ever since. With the death of Rin, there was no being, demon or human, that believed in me without fear or expectation. She had been the only one to ask nothing of me. And yet, she died. Died of sickness.. such a silly cause. The only thing I could not truly protect her from.
I dropped to my knees before her stone likeness and bowed. I had not bowed to anything, dead or alive, since I was a child. And there I was, kneeling before the stone image of a human girl. If I was any younger, I would have called myself pathetic, weak, vulgar. But that is what love had left me, kneeling before her.
I did not notice the rising of the sun. My thoughts were only on the memory of Rin. I could see and touch her cold, stone face. But I could not smell her or hear her. I was still left unsatisfied.
Then, I became aware of a small child looking at me from behind Rin's statue.
She kept staring, with no sign of fear or apprehension. Her eyes curiously scanned my form, which had remained unchanged from Rin's time.
I was reminded of when Rin had found me in the forest when I was recovering from battle. She was startled at first, but she was never afraid.
I looked closer at the girl and noticed her similar appearance to that of Rin's. She was likely some descendant of my Rin, so I asked her if she knew who the statue of the woman was. She answered that she was her honorable great-great-grandmother and a founder of her village.
More time had passed than I had originally thought.
She asked, unafraid, who I was.
After deciding on my wording, I told her that I was a friend of her great-great-grandmother. She seemed to want to ask more questions, but was deterred by a voice calling her name in fear- no doubt a villager fearing that a demon had come to eat their children.
I decided that I didn't want to deal with the humans and flew off without a word. I would visit Rin's memorial another time. I left, unsatisfied.
I was making my way back in another decade or so and ran into Inuyasha. Time passed quicker for him than it did for me, and now my younger brother looked ten years my senior. Time continued to tame his wild ways, and Inuyasha greeted me with more warmth than I'd ever heard in his voice.
"What brings you to the old slayer village, Sesshomaru?" Inuyasha asked while he walked with me toward the town's erected perimeter.
Inuyasha's scent changed to suggest excitement and said, "You've finally found her again?"
"I had the memorial built, brother. I would not lose it."
Inuyasha gave me a strange look, then seemed to catch unto something. "Sesshomaru, I thought you were talking about Rin's reincarnation... You haven't found her then. She'd likely show up around here though..."
He continued on the subject, but I ignored him to let his words sink in. Then, I remembered Kagome. She was a reincarnation of Inuyasha's past lover. Of course, humans reincarnated!
"You think it likely that she would reincarnate near the slayer village?" I questioned the half-breed, a new mindset of determination blatant in my voice. If I could find Rin's soul, I had the possibility of clearing my head of the sickness Rin had given me.
Inuyasha clearly heard the change in me, and answered, "Kagome's spirit reincarnated in Edo a few years ago. Kagome's was born not far from where Kikyo died." Then, he sheepishly added, "I'm waiting for her to grow up before I tell her... So maybe Rin hasn't come back yet. But if you haven't been looking for her, she might have."
Dear god, please don't let it be that she has come and gone again without me!
I picked up speed suddenly at these thoughts, causing Inuyasha to have to sprint to keep up.
I found myself staring at the memorial again. I loved the flowers surrounding the statue, they smelled wonderful almost all year round.
My father often told me the tales behind the woman, Rin, who inspired this elaborate centerpiece of our town when I was a small child. She had a demon, a creature of myths, as her guardian. She was the one to help build this town, which in the stories specialized in destroying demons, even though the money to rebuild the village came from a demon. The demon often Then on her deathbed, the demon confessed his undying love to her. She had died, and stories tell that the demon was so distraught that he turned into an evil spirit and haunts the forests surrounding the town.
I don't know how true the tales are about her, but I want to believe in them. Father told me many years ago that demons don't exist, and therefore the woman's stories must not be true. I used to insist that demons do exist- that I'd seen one, right here, in this very spot! But father, and even my mother, tell me that I simply imagined the demon.
My grandmother, however, believes me. She tells me without the knowledge of my family that she saw the demon too. She believes that he is simply the demon that haunts the forest. My grandfather thinks the demon exists too, but that he wanted to kidnap me from the town in the early hours of the morning for gazing upon his forlorn face while he looked upon his love.
All I remember from the incident is his face. He looked more like a beautiful spirit than a child-eating demon.
I know he stood right where I stand now, in front of the traditionally dressed woman, whose beauty easily shows- even in the stone.
I've looked at her stone face at least once every day since the day I saw the demon about a decade ago.
It is easy to believe that this woman could capture the heart of a demon. From the stories, everyone loved her, especially her husband- who was a legendary slayer of demons. Thinking about it, wouldn't that be a weird entanglement? A beautiful woman who is married has a demon in love with her? A demon, who from tales, is the foundation of the town...?
The woman's stone carved eyes were indeed only stone, but connects with me in ways which a stone statue should not. I feel a deep sadness in the stone eyes- or maybe I feel sadness surrounding this old grave site.
I bowed deeply to the statue, showing my regards for my ancestor, then left to attend to my chores.
"Sesshomaru!" Inuyasha blocked my way into the grown town, and looked me straight in the eye. "You mustn't barge in. These days, the humans wield terrible weapons of fire and do not believe in the benevolence or existence of demons!"
I gave him a look from our past: an elegantly arched eyebrow paired with a questioning golden glare.
"If you're gonna go sniffin' around, at least wait until it's dark! I'll even come with you to smell around for her!"
Sesshomaru complied, albeit with a great sigh of annoyance. His brother had gained much logic since the days of Naraku.
After dinner, I went about cleaning the dishes my family had used and had to fetch water from the well for the next morning. On my way back to home, I stopped once again in front of 'Rin.' Something felt different about today- especially about this statue.
Home didn't need me right this second, I decided. I put down the heavy bucket filled with tomorrow's water and sat non-too-gracefully in front of the flowers lining the mysterious statue. I played with their petals and considered why I felt strange this night.
'Rin' gave me no help.
Like normal, her face stayed stone and helped nothing.
Inuyasha deemed it dark enough and quiet enough a couple of hours past sunset and we both stealthily jumped from roof to roof. We stopped by each home and sniffed the homes with much consideration- ignoring the smells of fresh dinners.
They were coming around to the last few homes when Sesshomaru spotted Rin's memorial. I left the rest of the sniffing to Inuyasha and approached the statue from behind. It was good to see and smell the flowers- which remained the same since I had the memorial built.
When I came around to the front, I nearly stepped on a young girl sitting stupidly in front of Rin. I cursed myself for not realizing she was there and braced myself for her next move.
She stared at me with wide dark eyes and kept sitting there. Surely she must have the inclination to scream or run away?
I looked closer at her and realized she was an older version of the little girl who had spoken to me nearly ten years ago. I sniffed her discreetly and realized that her scent blended in with those of the flowers- oddly like Rin herself.
Could this awkward teen be Rin?
She reacted much like her great-great-grandmother did to me so long ago: no fear, just awe.
"You are a demon?" she asked, turning from my gaze to the statue and back again.
"Yes," I answered. Would she remember me if she was Rin? Would I have to remind her?
"Sesshomaru!" Inuyasha said with a hushed intensity. He walked up beside me and must have shocked the Rin look-alike. I heard him sniff and profusely and look at me with a question on his face.
"Is she Rin?" I asked, not sure. Did I want to know, really? If she was... how would I apologize from what I did- and didn't- do in her past life? How would I get her to remember? Would she remember?
"Ah, my name is Suzume?" the girl offered, standing slowly as she did so. She was obviously shocked by the encounter with two 'mythical' demons.
"She smells like her." I said, looking at every aspect of the girl.
"She has Kohaku's freckles," Inuyasha commented, earning him a menacing growl. Rin's long-dead husband still stirred nasty feelings in me. "But she has Rin's eyes," Inuyasha observed, looking from the statue to the girl before them.
Suzume interrupted, "I saw you as a little girl, right here. Right?" She turned her all-too-familiar eyes up to mine.
I nodded in response and sensed curiosity rising within the girl- a trait she shared with my Rin.
"Are you the woman's lover of legend?" Suzume asked me, gesturing to the stone Rin.
The question greatly confused and startled me. I loved her, yes. But I didn't tell her so until it was much too late to matter.
Inuyasha cut in by asking, "What legend?"
"The legend our town is built on. This lady was my great-great-grandmother, and a founder of the village. She had a demon guardian, who is said to have been her lover and began to haunt the forest after her death..." she left off, looking my form up and down. "Are you that... demon?" The question hung from her lips with a great amount of anticipation.
"I loved her," I said out loud and was surprised to hear no wavering in my voice or hesitation. After Rin's death I came to accept the word. Not that it mattered, then. Rin was dead by the time I could say it.
Inuyasha let the words sink in before he turned toward me so that he could whisper, "Sesshomaru- this isn't her. Kagome and her reincarnation knew me. She's real close, but she doesn't know who you are."
I accepted this answer, and let my eyes wander over the girl once more. No- this wasn't Rin. She shared many features with Rin, including her uncanny likeness to her smell... but it just didn't fit. Maybe Rin would not be reincarnated. "We leave, Inuyasha."
The demons left in a blink of an eye, leaving me shocked and awed in their wake. I knew that demon, Sesshomaru, wasn't a distant dream or a part of my childhood fantasies. He was real. And he confirmed at least some truth in the legends of the beginnings of our town.
Almost a full year after the encounter, Sesshomaru came back to Rin's statue- which I still visited at least once a day to pay my respects.
He turned to me with neutral golden eyes and did not protest when I sat next to him in front of the shrine.
"What brings you back here?" I asked, breaking the minutes-long silence between us.
"Rin," he answered simply, merely staring at the stone of his long-lost love's face.
"Do you long for her?" I questioned him again, feeling his attachment to the woman in the air. "Why do you keep coming back for stone?"
He sighed, not in annoyance, and surprisingly told me a long explanation. In the end, it boiled down to the need to see Rin's face, even if it was only stone, and because he kept up a search for Rin's reincarnation. I believed him easily and told him that I would be here paying homage to Rin every night if he wished to talk.
It didn't really surprise me when he showed up every few months. It seemed like he was becoming more and more anxious to find Rin. He even told me that he had gone to other villages where Rin had lived to search those places as well, to no avail.
Almost a year since the beginnings of his visits, I told him that a man in town had asked for my hand. Sesshomaru congratulated me, and surprised me when he came back not a week later, baring gifts for the wedding. He'd even gifted me a traditional red kimono and black obi for the ceremony. When my soon-to-be husband, Ren, asked where the expensive gifts came from, I finally told him of my meetings with the legendary Sesshomaru.
The next time Sesshomaru came, the demon agreed to meet Ren.
Ren, to say the least, was shocked.
On my wedding day, Sesshomaru surprised me by coming to congratulate us. In secret, of course. This was demon-slayer village by blood and tradition, after all.
Some time after Suzume's wedding to Ren, I came back to the village to once again sniff through the village and speak with my unlikely companion. For the first time in almost three years, Suzume was not in front of Rin.
For the first time in a very, very long time, I felt anxiety. I quickly started to sniff her out and followed her scent to an unusual home, outside of which Ren was pacing.
"Lord Sesshomaru?" he was surprised and stopped his worried pacing to question the me, the scary demon.
"Where was Suzume?" I questioned the man with more animosity in his voice than he intended.
"She is inside, giving birth!" Ren exclaimed with worry still evident in his voice.
I heard the woman's pants and outbursts of pain as well as the murmurs of the midwife inside the house. I then realized that there had indeed been enough time between his last visit and now for a baby to be conceived and birthed. I jumped to the roof and decided to wait out the birth and keep vigil, just to be able to use Tenseiga if the situation arose.
Long into the night, the cries of life were finally heard and Ren raised his head toward the stars and thanked any deity listening. I also felt much relief when I heard the cries as well as Suzume's voice. Both were alive and healthy.
I watched while Ren went in and the midwife left sometime later, content to listen to the new family below me. I couldn't really smell the baby yet, for the blood and gore of the birth still permeated the air.
Close to the sun rising, Ren emerged from the house and called up to me, beckoning me to follow him inside. "Suzume wants you to meet our baby!"
I followed. On the way I thought about how much I had changed in the past couple of centuries. If a human man had asked me to come see a human baby back then, I would've turned up my nose and huffed at the audacity. Rin changed me more than I thought, I mused.
My thoughts were interrupted when I was handed a swaddled sleeping child, much to my surprise. I was reminded of Rin handing me her firstborn all that time ago.
I questioned Suzume and Ren with my eyes, silently asking for the name.
Suzume got the question, and blushed, looking to the baby with adoration. "Sesshomaru, I wanted to name her after Rin, I mean, if it's with your permission..."
My eyes betrayed my feelings, and my nose betrayed my Rin.
I sniffed once more to be sure, and granted Suzume and Ren the permission they sought. How appropriate.
Rin was named Rin.
I finally found her.