Part XIII – Inuyasha II

Inuyasha held very still, wary of disturbing a sleeping Kagome. Nevertheless, he couldn't help but tighten his arms around her just a little bit more. Nor could he keep himself from skimming his nose lightly over the top of her head, taking in her scent. His ears concentrated on her breath, her heartbeat, the smallest of sounds. He needed these things to convince himself of the reality of her.

That she was actually here, in the feudal era, with him, bordered on a miracle of such proportion it threatened to overwhelm his mind. He hadn't thought it possible. And though none of them would have ever said so out loud, Inuyasha knew that, as the years had passed, none of his friends had thought it possible either.

When the well had closed, he'd thought his heart would close with it. Once again, he had allowed himself to forget the hard-earned lessons of life and fate, and once again, fate had laughed in his face. But a funny thing had happened. Instead of becoming bitter and enraged, as had happened at the violent conclusion to his love with Kikyou, Inuyasha had felt only love.

He had, of course, been sad and even shed more than his fair share of tears over the course of many a lonely night spent at the well. There had even been times when he had cursed at the damned thing, or his friends, in frustration and disappointment at the fact that Kagome had been taken away from him. But even his most violent outbursts had passed and left behind them not a festering wound, but a soul slowly cleansing itself of an immense grief. And always, there had been hope and love.

Because he did love Kagome, whether she was by his side or not. And he loved her not as a means of escape, not as a chance for a different life, but as a person, single and unique. It was why he had been able to let her go when the well pulled him back to his own time. She had been safe, in the arms of her family and happy. And though he'd missed her, that knowledge was enough to banish most of his regrets.

And there was always hope. There had been no room in his heart for hope during Kikyou's supposed betrayal. And his long sleep had only reinforced that emptiness. But Kagome had given him hope through her encouragement and example. She had always urged him to believe in himself and in others, as freely as she did. With her, his hopes had not depended on cheating fate by means of a treacherous jewel. With Kagome, life itself was hope; even in her absence.

He rested his chin on the crown of her head, feeling the warmth of her body against his. His hope had been rewarded. He had not fallen into bitterness and anger, had kept a hold on his love for the girl in his arms and had continued his life as she had taught him, with friends and with love. And now she was back to share that life with him.

Inuyasha had known, from a very young age, that it was fate that threw people together, caused their lives to become tangled in each other. He used to believe that it was unkind of fate, to play with their lives according to its fickle whim. But even a stubborn dog could learn new things, with the right person by his side to teach him. Fate had brought him Kagome for the second time now.

He would take care to remember that lesson. It seemed that fate could be kind after all.